Low-key CNN anchor Aaron Brown was bumped aside in 2005 for Anderson Cooper. Now his CNN contract is up, and he’ll resurface next month as host of a PBS documentary series. He’s also pitching a public-radio show, appearing in an upcoming Kevin Costner movie as himself (“My worst nightmare,” he says), and teaching journalism at Arizona State University. He spoke to Michael Martin.
I pretty much burned through the other networks. And I like the concept of a PBS audience. TV people like to think the audience has a stake in the program, but they don’t. A PBS audience literally does.
Do you have psychic scars from CNN?
Mostly I laugh about it. In my time there, they paid me to go away, they paid Connie Chung probably a lot to go away, they paid Paula Zahn to go away.
Do you watch TV news?
Like a lot of people in the world, I’m kind of busy. Six-thirty rolls around, I’m not always in front of the TV. CNN’s political stuff has been good, but once the campaign’s over, Anna Nicole Smith returns. I don’t judge it. I just don’t want to do it.
What’s your take on Katie Couric?
It’s difficult to make a program work if the buzz is that it’s going away.
How about Keith Olbermann?
It’s a good television program. No, it’s a very good television program. That’s how I want to put that.
You’ve let your hair go gray.
I think I just got older and stopped giving a shit. On the other hand, the first thing I did when I left CNN was have Lasik surgery.
Well, your replacement is famously gray.
I don’t think it would have made any difference.