CNN cuts Eliot Spitzer from its primetime arena

Joe Pompeo

CNN is shaking up its primetime lineup, and one of its evening hosts didn't make the cut.

The network unveiled a new fall lineup Wednesday that will move 10 p.m. anchor Anderson Cooper into the 8 p.m. slot that former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has manned since last October. "John King USA" and Wolf Blitzer's "Situation Room," meanwhile, each have been bumped back an hour to make room at 7 p.m. for a new general news program hosted by CNBC alumnus Erin Burnett. Piers Morgan will sit tight at 9 p.m. and "Anderson Cooper 360" will re-air at 10. The changes take effect on Aug. 8.

"The new line-up showcases anchors who are experienced reporters in covering stories that span the globe," said Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN U.S., in a statement. "We created a nightly schedule that brings together the best of CNN's journalism on a wide range of topics from politics and the economy to global and world events, as well the best newsmaker and celebrity interviews. This line-up ensures viewers access to the best of what CNN has to offer whenever they tune in at night."

The re-tooled schedule is something of an embarrassment for Spitzer, who'd seized his platform at CNN as a way to re-establish credibility following the prostitution scandal that cost him his job as New York's top politician back in 2008.

CNN brought the so-called "Love Guv" on board last summer in an attempt to bolster the network's third-place primetime ratings, but Spitzer failed to build up an audience, even after he ditched co-host Kathleen Parker and re-branded the nightly opinion hour as "In the Arena" with an expanded cast earlier this year. For instance, when Keith Olbermann's new show premiered on the little-watched Current TV several weeks ago, he managed to pull in more than double the viewers in the key 25- to 54-year-old demographic than tuned in to Spitzer during the same hour--even though the CNN's audience trumps Current's overall.

But there might be a place for him at CNN yet.

"We are in discussions with Eliot Spitzer about an alternative role," Jautz continued. "We thank him and the entire In the Arena team for creating a program that moved many political and economic issues into the national spotlight."

Spitzer was upbeat in his own parting remarks.

"We engaged serious people in conversations about national and global issues in a way that was informative and challenging," he said. "I believe that we provided diverse and valuable perspectives during the show's tenure. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at CNN."

Cooper, for his part, also spoke favorably of the changes.

"I'm looking forward to the new time slot and am excited to share 'AC360'  with a new audience at 8 p.m., while still connecting with my regular viewers at 10pm," he said.