Brooke Baldwin on why she’s leaving CNN, new book ‘Huddle’

Brooke Baldwin opens up to Yahoo about leaving CNN and her new book, Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power. (Photo: Getty Images)

When Brooke Baldwin was deciding whether it was the right time to leave CNN, she called a huddle. The 41-year-old daytime anchor talked it over with her family, of course, but also her girlfriends.  

“They were obviously with me throughout all of the ups and downs and moments in my life, the latter years of my career,” Baldwin tells Yahoo Entertainment. “They fully support me.”

Huddling, when women lean on one another, is a concept the CNN Newsroom anchor explores in her new book, Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power, out now. “Huddling is below the surface. It’s not loud. It’s an idea of a quiet movement of women just committing to each other, having each other’s backs to sponsoring each other at work,” she explains. “I just wanted to acknowledge it, validate it and name it and just give it power.” 

Baldwin announced in February she would be departing CNN after more than a decade at the network. Her final show is days away and she admits she “obviously” has “moments where I’m freaked out.” That’s why she’s lining up her support system now.

“Two of these girls will come be with me in New York,” Baldwin shares. “I literally want to have them help walk me out of the door. I am leaning on them that much. They are coming here to walk me out of the building and to be with me as I am sure I am going to be crying. It’s going to be emotional.”

Baldwin’s announcement came as a surprise to viewers. But for the Peabody-nominated journalist, it was a slow realization over the past few years that she needed to do more than what she was doing at her “dream job” at CNN. 

“It’s going to be hard to walk away. I have to walk away,” she explains. “And the main reason is — listen, it’s been a total privilege… but I, in spending all this time with all these trailblazing women and these huddles, I cannot hold space with them and not be the bravest version of myself.”

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In her book, Baldwin speaks with notable names like Reese Witherspoon, Stacey Abrams, Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright about what happens when women come together — whether it’s in politics, Hollywood, or at work — and how huddles can enact meaningful change or just offer every day support. Although the release of Huddle coincides with her contract ending in April, Baldwin calls it a “totally unintentional confluence of events.” But that doesn’t stop the internet from wanting to know if more went into her decision to exit the network. One of the most searched questions on Google after her announcement was, “Why is Brooke Baldwin really leaving CNN?” 

“I would answer it just kind of how I already have about the book and, you know, that’s just where I’m gonna leave it,” she replies when asked that question. 

Still, Baldwin says there are mixed emotions with her decision.

“It’s a lot. This week my head is fully in my book, but I’m talking to you as I’m looking around my office, and have nothing on my walls, and all of my clothes are packed up. It’s crazy,” she shares. “I believe in therapy and I see a therapist virtually every Thursday, and I was just thanking her for holding the space for me so I can really process it in a way that I think I haven’t been able to because I’ve been so busy. So in that space for the last couple of weeks, I’ll have my tears over the fact that this giant thing is happening. But I am excited too.”

Baldwin also firmly believes something her dad told her years ago: “Being uncomfortable is a great thing.”

“The second you get really, really comfortable somewhere after a long period of time, it’s time to move on,” she continues. “I just have my dad’s words in the back of my head. It’s hard to move on from something so comfortable because it’s comfortable throughout for a multitude of reasons. I’ve [worked] 20 years and sacrificed my social life. I was very alone for a lot of my younger years to get to this point. I could understand from the outside why it makes no sense for me to be leaving, but it just — in my gut, I just know it’s right. I just have to go.”

As for her next chapter, Baldwin says “stay tuned.”

“I just know that I will find the thing that will be right for me for this next chapter of my life that will be so in alignment with where my passions are. I just want to be able to live out loud about that and some other place will be that right fit,” she adds.

During her emotional on-air announcement in February, Baldwin said she did not have another gig lined up. She says she still doesn’t.

“I’m not bulls******* you, I do not know what I’m doing next, but what I do know is that it is going to be something that will be deep into storytelling, I will have ownership over how I tell the stories, how long I get to tell these stories. I would love to make something in the streaming space, talk show hosting. I don’t totally know,” she says. 

What she does know, though, is that she’ll talk it over with her huddle.

“They have been there when I have been in tears on the phone over various moments for me. Also just listening as I’ve told them about the process that is this book. And they’ve allowed me to just be really real and helped me in this just giant time of life change,” she says.

Baldwin hopes to amplify the lives of Americans by putting her passion for storytelling to good use and says Huddle is that first step.

“I feel like our culture loves the narrative of pitting women against each other. There are books and movies and Broadway shows all about it. I chose not to focus on that. I was joking the other day, our culture loves cowboys, lone rangers and the woman who rises above, right? She’s the sole hero. She is the one prevailing over the patriarchy, you know, she is the outlier, but I am here to say f*** that,” Baldwin explains. 

“That is not the narrative and that is not the story based on all of these women and all of these huddles that I have interviewed for the last two years. I have learned on this book journey that successful women — and when I say successful, I mean in all slivers of one’s life — successful women are not outliers. They are huddlers. They show up vulnerably, they ask for help. They throw down their ladders — thank you, Megan Rapinoe for the great phrase — they subscribe to the abundance mentality and they know how to unlock the power with one another. And I want to inspire all the women that they can do the same.” 

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