Soledad O’Brien: A Bright Spot At CNN

Source: Lloyd Grove/ The Daily Beast

Soledad O’Brien looked angry Oct. 22 as she shut down America’s Mayor.

“You gotta stop putting words in my mouth, sir!” the anchor of CNN’s Starting Point scolded Mitt Romney surrogate Rudy Giuliani, who had just accused her of blaming George W. Bush for the attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. “Every time I ask you a question, you like to push back as if somehow the question that’s being posed to you is unfair. It’s not.”

It was the sort of thrashing that very few TV hosts would have the nerve to administer to the hero of 9/11. At an hour when many bleary-eyed viewers are waking up and easing into their day, it was the morning-show equivalent of spilling coffee on the bedsheets. It was also riveting television.

If O’Brien’s shtick is appreciably more acerbic than conventional morning fare, her ex-boss, former CNN/U.S. president Jonathan Klein, praises “her tough questioning and lean-in demeanor, her ability to get people to open up to her, and her relentless drive to make everything as good as it possibly could be.” Klein left the once-dominant cable outlet in late 2010 amid chronically low ratings, and the management shake-ups continue to this day. But O’Brien, who dropped out of Harvard in the late ’80s for an entry-level job at Boston’s NBC station (she went back to Harvard a decade later and completed her degree), is keeping her head down and screening out the “noise.”

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