Al Jazeera America confirmed this morning that former CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien has moved to their network.
O'Brien is a news veteran, having sat in anchor seats on both NBC and CNN. She's best known these days for her documentary series on CNN, especially "Black in America," which won raves from TV critics and reviewers.
Unfortunately, O'Brien's last turn on the anchor chair didn't get enough viewers and she was eventually given the boot. She might also have been perceived by network executives as being too controversial and partisan -- something that they don't want for their straight news/tainment shows, preferring instead milquetoast conservatives like Erin Burnett and show-bizzers like Piers Morgan to sit in front of the cameras for this type of show.
Al Jazeera America is an interesting choice for O'Brien. English news programming on the network has attracted some of the biggest names in UK journalism, but they have struggled to draw American headliners, perhaps because of the stigma of participating in a news operation based in the Arab world.
At the same time, English-language programming on Al Jazeera has been hailed by media watchers and many journalists themselves as fair, credible and intellectually much more serious than what the standard U.S. cable news channels offer.
It will be interesting to see if O'Brien move brings more top names to the channel, which might help it combat the sluggish or resistant adoption rates it's getting from U.S. cable providers, several of whom have succumbed to anti-Muslim and anti-Arab pressure and have refused to carry Al Jazeera America at all.
I can't help but think that this move is not great for O'Brien's career. But it seems like quite a favorable acquisition for Al Jazeera and might help improve their reputation here in the U.S.