"Connie Chung Deputs Prime-Time Show"
Associated Press
June 24, 2002
by David Bauder


NEW YORK (AP) - With a purposeful stride across her new studio toward the camera, Connie Chung opened a new era for CNN on Monday night with the debut of her prime-time news program.

Chung was hired from ABC as part of CNN's strategy to develop news stars that can compete with cable news leader Fox News Channel. She's in the same time slot as Fox's biggest gun, Bill O'Reilly.

"I can promise you I'm not going to yell at you," Chung said.

CNN built a new studio for Chung in midtown Manhattan, and she wore a burnt-orange suit to match its dominant color.

She led the program with the day's top story, President Bush's Middle East policy speech. She then proceeded into what is expected to be the meat of her show — provocative, occasionally newsy interviews.

For her debut, she interviewed the brother-in-law of Colorado wildfire suspect Terri Barton, then spoke to the Milwaukee man arrested after writing to Dear Abby to confess his attraction to young girls.

That interview treaded close to tabloid territory. "It started with a simple e-mail, grew into a media firestorm and ended with a shattered life," Chung said to introduce the story.

Sound effects made whooshing noises every time words appeared on the screen.

Chung then brought Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," on for an interview. It seemed for a while neither knew what he was there for.

"It's an honor to be here, especially following arson and pedophilia," Stewart said. He stuck around for an interview with two players and a coach from the U.S. soccer team that had just made an improbable run at the World Cup.

Chung will be followed nightly on CNN's prime-time lineup by "Larry King Live" and Aaron Brown's "Newsnight." CNN hopes that news and interviews delivered by recognizable personalities will cut into Fox's ratings lead.


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