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"Early Show" blowup: Anchors away

A developing story at CBS: "The Early Show" will blow up its anchor team, and move in a new crew in early January.

  The AP broke the story about  20 minutes ago, and waiting confirmation at this point.

  But here are the pertinent details: Harry Smith, who has spent virtually his entire career at CBS and who is the most visible presence in the CBS morning more than anyone in the show's long (and frankly troubled) history will be pushed out. In his place: Chris Wragge. Erica Hill's moving in too

 Also out: Maggie Rodriguez and Dave Price.  There have been many many blowups at "Early" - so renamed years ago when Dave Letterman arrived to launch "The Late Show" - but none that I can recall of quite this magnitude. Take Price - for a time, a beloved character on the show, and who once even turned down a richer NBC offer to stay. Dave's largely all schtick, but a very bright guy (once, I believe, an engineer) who got quite a following when he jumped over to "Early" from WNYW/5.

 In any event, the question : Why? The answer: Ratings. They're not grand, but they haven't been...well, forever. The CBS morning news - a catchall phrase for a few dozen efforts in this time period since the early '50s - is built on an Indian burial ground. Anchors have come and anchors have gone. Nothing has ever worked, or worked particularly well, as far as the numbers are concerned. People who have followed CBS over the years have many theories why this is so, but the obvious one is obivous: "Today."

And, to a lesser extent, "Good Morning America."

 "Today" is the morning habit, and as any one who has ever been through a morning well knows, this is the time of day when habits are terribly difficult to break. You get up. You get a cup of caffeine. You turn on the tube. You see what Matt or Mere have to say. You head out the door.

  Now, why would you turn on the TV, and then say to yourself, "gee, I wonder what Harry and Maggie have to say this morning?" 

  That's the problem. You wouldn't.  And you haven't for over half a century.

  So so it goes. Good luck to Chris Wragge - who's quite good by the way - and Erica Hill.


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