Soledad O'Brien has been one of the few Latinas on the national news scene for quite a while now. Despite her relatively young age (45), she has already made a memorable mark in morning news, with a number of years associated with NBC's weekday and weekend Today programs, CNN's American Morning from 2003 to 2007 and various CNN programs; over the last couple of years, she hosted CNN's highly visible "Black in America" and "Latino in America" programs in 2007 and 2009.
And now, finally, she's back as the host of a weekday morning show of her own‘«Ű"Starting Point," a two-hour package on CNN that runs Monday through Friday, 7P to 9P. The premiere episode was January 2, following the 5A debut of "Early Start," where Chicago's Zoraida Sambolin and Ashleigh Banfield offer the news at daybreak.
Latinos, male and female, have been part of local news for a very long time‘«Űnot just in Southern California or other market with large Latino viewerships, but throughout the country. But penetration into the very small, very closed club of national news programs hosts and anchors have been spotty at best, for Latinos and all people of color. O'Brien herself as a rising star at NBC for a number of years, and did a four-year stint at CNN's "The Site," but it's been a few years since she's had a weekday home. Morning news on all the networks, broadcast and cable alike, are noticeably light on Latinos; Maggie Rodriguez co-hosted CBS' "Morning Show" with Harry Smith until they were both summarily terminated a year go; Smith has since landed at NBC, though Rodriguez hasn't been heard of since. Latina weatherperson Marysol Castro survived that purge at CBS, but it looks as if she won't make it through to the new Charlie Rose/Gayle King show that begins January 9. Since then, Natalie Morales continues to be part of the 9A edition of "The Today Show," working as a news anchor rather than a host.
O'Brien's new "Starting Point" looks like a no-frills, boots-on-the-ground show that will take advantage of new, easier technologies to stay out of the studio and in the real world (the opening day's broadcast was, inevitably, staged in an Iowa diner). And O'Brien herself is as cheerfully direct as ever, happy to pin down the blandishments of politicians, evangelicals, and celebrities who are willing to sit down and talk.
You can see her "intro" here, and catch the actual show every morning at 7A on CNN‘«™and see how Zoraida is doing two hours earlier, Monday through Friday as well.