Related Content: John King Is No Prisoner of the Beltway
John King will replace Lou Dobbs at 7 p.m. on weekdays and leave his Sunday morning show, State of the Union, beginning early next year, CNN said Thursday.
"John created an important new show this year and we are looking for a worthy successor," said Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S.
Klein said he is committed to the Sunday morning program, which premiered in January and is the newest entry in television's long tradition of Sunday morning political affairs programs that includes Meet the Press, This Week, Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday.
State of the Union - which airs from 9 a.m. to noon and also encompassed Reliable Sources at 10 a.m. - averaged 512,000 viewers in October, putting it ahead of MSNBC but well behind cable news leader Fox News for those hours.
King's migration to weeknights at 7 p.m. comes in the wake of Dobbs' surprise announcement on his program Nov. 11 that he would step down effective immediately.
Anchors including Wolf Blitzer, Campbell Brown, Larry King and Anderson Cooper will rotate in the 7 p.m. hour for the remainder of the year. On Nov. 12, The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer will expand to four hours, from 4 to 8 p.m. On Nov. 13, a special honoring America's veterans will fill the hour.
Klein said he had been in discussions with Dobbs for several months about toning down the opinion on Dobbs' program.
"Lou and I had been speaking since the beginning of the year about reducing and eliminating opinion from his show," said Klein. "And to his credit he understood the rationale, the need to keep his show more consistent with the rest of the network. He gave it a good shot and discovered it was not for him. He came to us and started what turned out to be very friendly conversations."
Although he was billed as "Mr. Independent" on his CNN program, Dobbs had been a lightning rod at the network.
He came under fire this year for giving so-called "birthers," people who believe President Obama is not a U.S. citizen, a largely friendly platform to present their views.
A vocal critic of illegal immigration, he also raised hackles of immigration reform groups, and progressive organizations including Media Matters organized "Dump Dobbs" campaigns. In October, CNN's four-hour special Latino in America prompted Latino advocacy groups including Presente.org to protest the network.
Dobbs will continue to do his radio program. There has been much speculation that he would jump to Fox News or Fox Business. On Wednesday a Fox spokesperson said: "We have not had any discussions with Lou Dobbs for Fox News or Fox Business."
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