In mid-August, one week after F.B.I. officials executed the search of Mar-a-Lago that recovered more than 300 classified documents, CNN’s respected and forceful anchor Brianna Keilar brought on Rep. Mike Turner, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, to articulate the G.O.P. response. The interview, which took place on the network’s State of the Union program, showcased Keilar’s prodigious prosecutorial talents and the authoritative, occasionally combative, take-no-bullshit approach to cross-examination that she had honed in the latter years of the Trump–Zucker era.
During that epoch, Keilar had become one of the more unlikely stars of the network. Sure, she wasn’t making Anderson Cooper money and she wasn’t an Erin Burnett-style billboard talent, but her defense of Washington’s institutions against Trump’s berserk behavior made her a crowd favorite, a Twitter heroine, and a star of the Zucker combine.