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Here’s Why Ex–CNN Star Soledad O'Brien Is So Critical Of Her Former Network

“I’m very critical of an organization that I think could do much better, could serve people better,” O’Brien told BuzzFeed News.

Posted on March 19, 2019, at 4:31 p.m. ET

Erich Bartlebaugh/BuzzFeed News

Former CNN host Soledad O’Brien again heaped criticism on the news network Tuesday, saying it's not adding value or best serving the public by having political pundits and elected officials “screaming about President Trump” who “often don’t even know what the hell they’re talking about.”

“This is just bull. It’s a ratings grab, and it’s cheap,” O’Brien said on BuzzFeed News’ Twitter morning show AM to DM.

“All those people are on the payroll. They make something like $100[,000] to $150,000 as a contributor for a year, so as you circle them through it’s inexpensive. And to have people yelling at each other as opposed to sending a crew into the field to tell a complex story, obviously one is much cheaper.”

"One serves the public better, but one's cheap," she said. "So that's why they do it."

O’Brien, whose show Matter of Fact With Soledad O’Brien airs on local affiliates across the country, made clear she “love[s] CNN” and remembers covering Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans for the network back in 2005.

But as someone who’s familiar with “the pay structure," "how you book a story,” and “exactly what goes into all those meetings,” O'Brien thinks the company should be aiming higher.

Mark Lennihan / AP

“I’m very critical of an organization that I think could do much better, could serve people better,” O’Brien said. “There are a lot of great journalists working there. They could do more thoughtful things."

O'Brien has been critical of CNN in the past, tweeting a link in March 2018 to an article by CNN analyst Chris Cillizza titled "Donald Trump Is Producing the Greatest Reality Show Ever" and calling it "terrible analysis" and "why people hate the media."

“You have a big platform; be thoughtful about the stories you tell and how you tell them," she told Cillizza in an exchange that went viral.

In November, O’Brien also tweeted that CNN gives racists and white supremacists a platform “all in the name of hearing them out,” which she also called a “ratings ploy.”

O'Brien said CNN and other media need to broaden their focus beyond the current occupant of the White House. "There are so many issues we could be covering now that are not just screaming about President Trump," she told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.

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“Our show doesn’t do round-the-clock Trump TV, which is both depressing and also sad because I think television news could do better,” O’Brien said.

O'Brien appeared on AM to DM just one day after the death of her mother, and weeks after the death of her father. "I could not have asked for better parents," she said, recalling their impact on her life.

My mom died today. Joining my dad who passed away 40 days ago. She was a pretty remarkable lady. An immigrant from Cuba, she lived with the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore during college. Here (on the left) she is in Cuba in the 1930s.

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