The hard-charging news executive has been the president of CNN's U.S. operations since 2004.
New Rochelle native Klein started out at a local Providence TV station after graduating from Brown, joining CBS News two years later in 1982. Following stints at 48 Hours and a short-lived talk show called America Tonight, Klein spent the mid-'90s creating primetime documentaries, rising to the post of executive vice president of CBS News along the way. In 1999, he left the network to found a broadband video provider called TheFeedRoom.com, which aggregated video content for news providers and raised millions from venture capitalists during the dotcom boom. In November 2004, Klein returned to TV news, joining CNN to head up the company's U.S. operations.
Klein's arrival at CNN amid declining ratings had some observers wondering if he planned to turn to more tabloid-driven fare like rival Fox News. Klein hasn't done that so far (although his decision to have Lou Dobbs spout anti-immigrant rhetoric for an hour every night is certainly very Foxian) but he has made a slew of changes to the programming lineup over the past few years. He dumped Crossfire (and Tucker Carlson in the process), extending the Wolf Blitzer-fest Situation Room to two hours. In 2005, he got rid of Aaron Brown, extending Anderson Cooper's nighttime broadcast by an extra hour. He picked up former CBS White House correspondent John Roberts and Time's Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware. And he's made a series of switch-ups on American Morning, dropping Soledad O'Brien, Miles O'Brien, and Bill Hemmer, among others. More recently, in 2007, he tossed the ratings-challenged Paula Zahn from the primetime schedule to make room for Campbell Brown.
Alas, all those changes have yet to make a monumental impact on ratings. Fox remains No. 1 in the cable news game, despite the fact that CNN remains the "the most trusted name in news," according to a 2006 survey. Klein will have plenty of time to continue his effort to turn the ship around. In December 2007, he signed a new four-year contract with the Time Warner-owned cable network.
If CNN golden boy Anderson Cooper was showered with praise for his response to Hurricane Katrina, it was the exact opposite with Klein: Critics slammed him for taking a family vacation to Nantucket right after the storm hit. He's also been criticized for his lack of diplomacy on the job—both Aaron Brown and Paula Zahn's dismissals were handled indelicately with the news of their departures leaked to the media before CNN staffers themselves were informed. Klein also raised eyebrows with his on-the-record appraisal of Katie Couric's physique: "The sexiest of the news anchors. The shoulders don't hurt, and the legs have to be considered."
It shouldn't come as any surprise that Fox News's Roger Ailes and Klein have clashed in the past. Klein has referred to Ailes' audience as a bunch of "angry white men"; Ailes has called Klein is a biased liberal. When a survey revealed that the average age of a Fox News viewer is 63, Klein was quoted as saying, "The unfortunate thing about Fox's 10th anniversary is that most of their viewers aren't going to be around for their 20th."
Klein is married to Jennifer Snell Klein, a former investigative reporter for Miami's WPLG-TV. The couple has two kids and lives in Mount Kisco.