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CNN: Everyone Knows Problems, No One Has Answers

If you believe the industry scuttlebutt, CNN may have hired Anthony Bourdain the other day just for the use of his knives — as several people I have talked to personally inside and outside of Time Warner expect some chopping at the cable news network at some point, either in the executive ranks, the on-air talent or both.

And that thinking probably wasn’t hindered by Phil Kent’s straightforward comments Thursday (you definitely should read them here), in which he bluntly said, “We haven’t put the best shows on the air.”

But here’s the interesting thing about the CNN quagmire: No one I talk to really has any idea what the network should do in primetime. Everyone likes to point out the network’s problems, but I never hear solutions. No one I have spoken with has great ideas about who to hire on camera or in the executive ranks, or how to steer the overall voice of the network.

I do hear rumors, thoughts and names from time to time, but they are absolutely nothing more than chatter over breakfasts and drinks at this point.  The most eye-catching name I have heard mentioned from a couple people is that of Jeff Zucker, but it is little more than fantasy football, as there is no job available (that we know of) and he is going to be busy launching Katie Couric’s show this fall.

However, since I miss the days of getting nasty calls and emails from NBC rivals’ executives calling me a Zucker apologist, I will offer this: Pretty much everyone I have spoken with about a hypothetical Zucker-to-CNN move thinks it would be great for CNN — even those who weren’t fans of Zucker’s stint at NBC. I don’t disagree.

Phil Kent’s comments Thursday probably won’t make CNN staffers too comfortable (or as I tweeted after I read them, they may be dusting off the old resume) and probably will lead to some more media focus on the network’s primetime struggles  — though as Rachel Maddow told our Andrea Morabito in B&C this week, no one really cares about the election right now and cable news ratings across the board are showing it.

But in all the chatter about what is wrong at CNN, I am still waiting to hear some solutions. My email address is Tell me what you would do, and we’ll be happy to run some of them. As long as they don’t contain the word “Olbermann.”