Jonathan Klein (CNN)

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For other people named Jonathan Klein, see Jonathan Klein (disambiguation).
Jonathan "Jon" Klein
Alma mater Brown University
Occupation Entrepreneur, Media Executive
Known for TAPP, CNN, CBS
Title CEO of TAPP

Jonathan Klein is an American media executive. He is the former president of CNN/US.


Klein graduated from Brown University in 1980 with a degree in history. He was news director and then general manager of WBRU-FM, a student-run 50,000-watt commercial radio station.

Klein began his television career in 1980 as a news producer at WLNE in Providence, R.I., and the following year moved to a similar position at WPIX-TV/Independent Network News in New York. In 1982, he joined CBS News as a writer and news editor on the overnight broadcast Nightwatch. He served as broadcast producer on CBS Morning News and then CBS Evening News Weekend Edition, where he won an Emmy Award for live coverage of the 1986 Reagan/Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.[citation needed]

In 1988, Klein joined the fledgling prime-time magazine series 48 Hours as a field producer, eventually winning an Emmy Award for coverage of Hurricane Hugo and a Peabody Award for an hour he produced on the pro-life movement.[citation needed] Klein served as senior producer for CBS’s 1990 late-night series America Tonight with Charles Kuralt and Lesley Stahl, as senior producer for the network’s coverage of the 1991 Gulf War and later for the documentary Back to Baghdad, in which foreign correspondent Bob Simon returned to the Middle East following his imprisonment by the Iraqis during the war.

In 1993, Klein launched the documentary series Before Your Eyes, two-hour movies-of-the-week that explored social issues such as child abuse, AIDS and juvenile delinquency. In 1997, Klein conceived and executive produced the CBS documentary Inside the Jury Room, in which network television cameras were permitted for the first time to observe deliberations in a criminal trial. The documentary won a Columbia-DuPont Silver Baton.[citation needed]

Klein also wrote the story for the TNT Original film Buffalo Soldiers, a 1997 historical drama starring Danny Glover.[citation needed]


Employed by CNN/US as president in November 2004, one of Klein's first acts was to deploy a large contingent of U.S.-based correspondents to cover the Asian tsunami. Previously, CNN would usually send locally based overseas correspondents to cover breaking international stories. This tactic of "flooding the zone," as Klein called it,[1] became a hallmark of CNN's breaking news coverage on other major stories as well. CNN won the DuPont-Columbia Award for its tsunami coverage,[2] and the George Foster Peabody Award for its coverage of Katrina.[3]

In early 2005 Klein canceled the long-running program Crossfire and replaced it with The Situation Room, saying that he agreed with Jon Stewart's criticism that the talk show was incendiary and detracting from reasoned political discussion.[4]

In late 2005 Klein named Anderson Cooper, who had become renowned for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina, as anchor of CNN's 10pm hour, and released Aaron Brown, who had anchored NewsNight in that hour since 2001.[5] The stated goal was to make CNN more competitive in prime time through aggressive reporting. In 2008 Cooper's program, AC 360, became the #1 rated cable news show among adults 25-54, a first for the network in that time period.[6]

Klein attempted to hire Keith Olbermann away from MSNBC in 2006 to replace the struggling Paula Zahn at 8pm. The idea was rejected by Jim Walton, President of CNN Worldwide, and Phil Kent, CEO of Turner Broadcasting, of which CNN is a part.[7] Instead, Campbell Brown was hired away from NBC News as CNN's 8pm anchor. Her program never caught on in the ratings, and she left the network in the spring of 2010. In November 2009, Lou Dobbs announced that he had decided to leave the network to pursue advocacy journalism more freely.[8] Klein replaced him with John King as the 7pm anchor, and named Candy Crowley, a longtime political reporter, to replace King as host of the Sunday morning talk show, "State of the Union."

In 2008, Klein hired Fareed Zakaria, then editor of Newsweek International, to host Fareed Zakaria GPS, a weekly Sunday talk show focused on global affairs. Zakaria recently left Newsweek to join Time magazine, a corporate cousin of CNN's under the Time Warner umbrella.

Faced with declining ratings in prime time in the year following the Obama inauguration, Klein hired Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, and Kathleen Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, to anchor a new 8 pm program; Parker Spitzer debuted in October 2010, shortly after Klein left the network in September and Ken Jautz, former head of CNN's HLN, became the president of CNN/US.[9] Klein also recruited and hired Piers Morgan to replace Larry King as host of the network's 9 pm interview show.[10]


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