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Host of 'Inside Politics' Gives Notice to CNN

Judy Woodruff quits the cable network, adding to uncertainty on future of its political coverage.

April 29, 2005|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

Judy Woodruff, one of the most recognizable faces of the CNN brand and the host of a political show that is a must-watch in Washington, announced Thursday that she's leaving the cable network.

In a message to her colleagues, Woodruff said she was ready for a break from daily journalism after 30 years in television. "I'm discussing several long-form projects in television," she wrote. "I'll also teach, do some writing and be an occasional consultant and contributor to CNN."

The 58-year-old anchor is expected to leave by June, when her current contract expires.

Her departure comes at a time of uncertainty about the future of "Inside Politics," the daily show that she has led for 12 years. The hourlong afternoon program gets modest ratings, but is followed avidly by political junkies and Beltway insiders.

The show features interviews with candidates, lawmakers and analysts about the latest political developments, and is known for its substantive and serious approach.

CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein, who has asked his political team to rethink the network's coverage of politics, has not committed to keeping the program on the air. Klein, who had offered to renew Woodruff's contract, said she did not ask him for a commitment to keep "Inside Politics" on the air, calling that "a separate issue."

Woodruff, a veteran television correspondent, has been a prominent part of CNN's political team since 1993. She previously reported for PBS' "MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour" and served as NBC's chief White House correspondent. She has covered every presidential campaign since 1976.

Klein disputed any suggestion that CNN was less interested in politics. "Political coverage is one of the hallmarks of CNN, and we are going to remain very firmly committed to offering the most insightful, most intelligent coverage," Klein said.

But, he said, the network's approach must change to reflect cultural shifts, such as the advent of blogging. "Political reporting in the mass media has not changed significantly since the Kennedy-Nixon debate, and it's probably time," he added.

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