Is the face of Wolf Blitzer about to fade away from CNN?
A report over the weekend by the New York Daily News suggests yes, although the cable news network is denying it.
The paper indicates the struggling channel is planning many changes in it effort to win back viewers lost over the years. The biggest shake-up is said to be for on-air talent, including the familiar host of “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
“Wolf is going to be gradually phased out and replaced with a younger, hipper host,” a CNN insider told the Daily News. “The decision has been made that people want to look at beautiful people, and although Wolf is no beast, they’re thinking younger.”
“Of course they want journalists with great credentials, but they also want reporters with a face, and body, for TV – not radio,” the source added. “Anderson Cooper is the networks’ poster child for a reason: He is super-cute and charming.”
Jeff Zucker took over the helm at CNN in March, and some staff changes have already been made, including the addition of Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo, while other names got the boot, including James Carville, Mary Matalin and Roland Martin.
“Everyone is a little worried,” the CNN source told the Daily News. “You know the on-air talent is scared when you see Piers Morgan eating a salad at lunch. If he is spotted at the gym, then you know the most trusted name in news will also be the prettiest.”
A spokeswoman for CNN is throwing cold water on the report about Blitzer, telling several media outlets:”The ‘CNN insider’ must not be watching CNN air. Wolf has been anchoring additional hours as of late.”
Blitzer made some comedic headlines last month while interviewing tornado victims in Moore, Okla. Not knowing that the woman he was interviewing, Rebecca Vitsmun, was an atheist, Blitzer asked her if she was thankful to God she was alive.
“Well, you’re blessed. Brian, your husband, is blessed. Anders (you son) is blessed,” Blitzer said. “We’re happy you’re here. You guys did a great job. I guess you gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?”
“I-I-I’m,” she laughed. “I’m actually an atheist.”
“Oh, you are? All right,” Blitzer said with a chuckle. “But you made the right call.”
“Yup – we are here,” she said, laughing. “And, you know, I don’t blame anybody for thanking the Lord.”
“Of course not,” Blitzer responded.
The exchange went viral on the Internet, with one YouTube clip collecting more than 2.5 million views.
“He found the only atheist in Oklahoma, and he didn’t know it,” opined top-rated radio host Rush Limbaugh. “That’s just too rich. He thinks everybody he talks to is being ‘all God all the time.’”