MSNBC Chief Phil Griffin Claiming He’s Been ‘Approached’ About CNN President Job?


The speculation continues over who will replace Jim Walton for the much-coveted job as President of CNN Worldwide.

Naturally, when such an enormous news gig is on the market, the one thing everyone wants is for the world to believe that they’ve been “approached” or in some way wanted for this prestigious executive position. Rightfully so: Did we mention it’s a really big gig?

Here at Mediaite, we’ve explored several possibilities, namely HBO chief Richard Plepler, Today Show Executive Producer Jim Bell, CNN News Networks Ad Sales president Greg D’Alba, and most recently former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker.

Today, USA Today‘s Michael Wolff reports that MSNBC chief Phil Griffin claims he has been “approached” for the CNN Worldwide gig.

As with any big executive job speculation, some of the rumored names are credible, others… not so much. Griffin falls into the latter category. Unlike the other candidates, it’s difficult to believe that CNN would consider Griffin for several reasons.

First off there is a little contract issue since Griffin recently signed a new deal with MSNBC. Then there’s the qualification issue: Griffin has never led a news division. At MSNBC, he reports to NBC News chief Steve Capus, who reports to Patricia Fili-Krushel. Before that arrangement, it is well known that former NBC Universal chief Zucker, not Griffin nor even Capus, made most of the big decisions for MSNBC.

Griffin’s reputation in the industry is as a producer-type — he knows how to shape compelling TV and how to assuage talent, but he’s not a business executive. Other reported candidates like Zucker were producers, too, but they have true executive chops.

This is not to suggest that Griffin hasn’t done well with MSNBC. In recent weeks, some of the network’s primetime programming has nipped at the heels of Fox News shows in the key 25-54 demo. In fact, for the month of September, MSNBC topped Fox News in the 10 p.m. demo ratings.

But there is little question that Griffin isn’t exactly at the level to be the CEO of CNN Worldwide, a division that includes not only the cable network but CNN International and all CNN digital assets. It’s a true CEO job and Wolff’s suggestion that CNN may look to a seasoned and respected executive like Time Warner’s Gary Ginsberg, rings far more true than the notion that Griffin was even “approached” for the job.

But who knows…

Have a tip we should know?

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