It has been the great question looming over the new CNN since former Today show guru and Katie Couric buddha Jeff Zucker started his network takeover in November: Who's going to be the new Katie?! Insiders has long said Erin Burnett was on the inside track to become CNN's new morning show host once it became clear that Soledad O'Brien was out and Chris Cuomo would fill one side of the couch, but on Thursday the pick came in, and the new face of your cable mornings is... Kate Boulduan. From the network's release: "CNN announced today that Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan will co-host the network's new morning show, which will premiere this spring. Michaela Pereira will join CNN from KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles, as the program's news anchor." Which... who?
The 29-year-old Bolduan may be young, but she's not new to CNN. She's actually been with the network since 2007 (and has acquired a small, but creepy YouTube following in the process). She's spent the past six years being overshadowed by Wolf Blitzer's beard as "co-host" of The Situation Room, and she's been one of the network's Congressional correspondents, too, so she's got Capitol Hill chops, Savannah Guthrie-style. "Bolduan reported on the legislative cycle and congressional events, including the negotiations to increase the federal debt limit and the super committee deliberations," reads her bio on CNN.
Bolduan's federal debt limit experience certainly doesn't sound like the soft news program people have been expecting from Zucker's experiences at Today, his poop-cruise obsession, and the whispers about the still nameless morning show: "Soledad is talented at producing in-depth, serious pieces of journalism, and is a tough interviewer," an anonymous source had told the New York Post's Page Six in the days leading to O'Brien's departure. "That doesn't seem to fit the direction the network is going."
Alas, in Zucker's eyes, Bolduan is the new Katie, Cuomo is the new Matt Lauer (or at least a young, pre-evil Matt Lauer), and Michaela is the new Ann Curry (or at least a young, pre-firing Ann Curry). It's like he's got his old gang back together from when he produced Today in its '90s heyday of high ratings, soft news, and star anchors who didn't hate each other. The two-anchors-and-a-newswoman format is a departure from O'Brien's current roundtable setup on Starting Point, and O'Brien, who will be leaving behind her full-time CNN work this spring, obviously won't be the new Al Roker. Although Page Six says that Zucker has been knocking on Elisabeth Hasselbeck's door. And that would be more like the new Hoda and Kathie Lee than anything.