“I don't feel that I have to do the same stories at the same time as the other morning shows. That is what we are trying not to be. We are trying not to compete story to story, segment to segment, minute to minute in the show. There is no gain there,” said Batt Humphreys, Early Show interim executive producer. “We tried to do that for 30-something years and it hasn't worked very well…. I've come to the conclusion that maybe that model is just not working."
Coverage of the 2012 presidential race has taken increased prominence. This past Monday, while NBC’s Today show interviewed GOP presidential contender Tim Pawlenty during the 7 a.m. hour, Early sat down with Pawlenty for a substantive interview in the second hour.
It’s now become more common for the Early Show to book members of Congress to discuss meaty policy issues in the 8 a.m. hour while celebrities are pitching books and movies on NBC and ABC.
“I just don't feel that you necessarily have to be constrained or bound by a female demographic that starts swinging at eight o'clock," Humphreys said. "Nor by that demographic, do you have to program for what you perceive that they want, because in all honesty, I know a lot of women, I’ve talked to women … and its not all about fashion, food, and feeding your babies. I think women are capable of handling content after 8 o'clock in the morning.”
Much of the changes in content have come as a result of a recent shakeup in CBS's news division. Humphreys, a former Early Show senior producer, returned to take over after former Executive Producer David Friedman’s departure. In June, the news division nabbed MSNBC’s popular Morning Joe Executive Producer Chris Licht as vice president of programming for CBS News. Many in the industry have speculated that Licht, who experienced great success with a unique politics-centered show on cable, is looking to replicate that formula with The Early Show.
Licht isn’t the only NBC’er to head to the Tiffany Network. Norah O’Donnell, a veteran NBC Washington correspondent who was a regular guest on Morning Joe, joined CBS as the network's chief White House correspondent. O’Donnell has the chops to be a ubiquitous political presence on the network, much like Chuck Todd at NBC and Jake Tapper at ABC. She frequently appeared on the Chris Matthews Show and MSNBC programming providing political analysis.
And 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager took the reins as CBS News chairman, and brought the show's Scott Pelley on to replace Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News—adding a hard-news sensibility to the news division.
Along with broadening their political coverage, Fager and CBS News President David Rhodes have made a conscious effort to integrate the division’s platforms. There will be more crossover on the network's news shows; for example, The Early Show will air complementary segments to 60 Minutes or Evening News pieces.