Who’s that girl?
New CNN host Erin Burnett was feted with a party in New York Tuesday night for her new show Erin Burnett OutFront, which premiere Oct. 3. And the news network is hoping the 7 p.m. anchor can win over viewers with her enthusiasm, passion, and yes, geekiness.
Mark Whitaker, CNN executive VP and managing editor, told the crowd at Tuesday’s party that he was struck by three things when he first met Erin when he was at NBC News and she at CNBC: That she’s a real reporter who wants to get out and meet the newsmakers, she’s a genuinely nice person – and that she’s a geek.
“But she’s a geek in the best way,” he went on to say, “as she genuinely cares about the forces whether they’re in business, in politics, internationally that are shaping the lives of ordinary Americans and people around the world that they might not quite understand, but that she feels it’s important for them to understand.”
Ken Jautz, executive VP of CNN/U.S., earlier alluded to that same dorky interest in the news.
“One thing I’ve learned in the last few months is even by the standards of television news, Erin Burnett is really enthusiastic and passionate about the news,” he said, saying that if you stop to ask her about a story she’s working on, you’re likely to still be standing there 20 minutes later. That is a really rare and maybe ineffable quality, one we think she’s going to bring to her show and the reason were really excited about her show launching next week.”
And CNN, which experienced ratings gains in the recent third quarter after it shook up its primetime line-up, certainly hopes that its newest news girl will resonate with audiences the way that Fox’s quirky Zooey Deschanel has.
“It is great to see so many Erin fans, really great, it makes me hope you all have Nielsen boxes,” Jautz joked to the crowd of about 300 gathered at Robert Restaurant at The Museum of Arts and Design.
After the gentle poking-fun, Burnett took the mic to thank her fiancé, her agent, and her family for encouraging her to join CNN, saying she can’t wait until Monday’s launch.
“I really see it as a blank canvas that we have this amazing opportunity to paint something on,” she said. “As a journalist and someone who believes in news, it is the most thrilling opportunity I could imagine and our whole staff could imagine.”
Many CNN faces were among the attendees Tuesday night, including anchors Anderson Cooper and Piers Morgan, HLN host Joy Behar, president of CNN Worldwide Jim Walton and chief business correspondent Ali Velshi. Also spotted in the crowd were JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, CNBC host Jim Cramer, talk show host Maury Povich and wife Connie Chung, NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan, former MSNBC host Contessa Brewer and ABC News legal analyst and Mediaite founder Dan Abrams.