The morning shows used to compete to have the splashiest street-level studios and big stunts. But now it's about being the next Morning Joe.
CNN announced it will launch a new program with Soledad O'Brien next year that moves away from the traditional morning-show format of guests and segments and more toward conversation. O'Brien will lead an ensemble of regulars who will talk about the issues of the day.
"I see the tone of the program as having a very smart breakfast with your friends who are funny and interesting, who are willing to push back when you ask questions and willing to argue in a thoughtful way," says O'Brien, who has done morning duty on CNN's American Morning and NBC's Weekend Today.
CBS News has also revealed plans that it will turn its Early Show into a more thoughtful discussion program and is in talks with Charlie Rose, whose PBS chatfest is a favorite among high-minded viewers, about serving as host.
Both programs sound as if they are emulating MSNBC's Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, which has become required viewing for the Beltway crowd. But O'Brien insists her new program will be different. "We're not going to have the same voices," she says. "We're going to have broader appeal because we'll cover a wider range of stories."