Jake Tapper is looking forward to covering life outside the Beltway.
For Tapper and CNN, the hope is that "The Lead" will become a wide-ranging news hour that can expand beyond being a political shout-fest without resorting to going tabloid or following the latest car chase to score ratings.
"It will be about all sorts of stories that are relevant to our lives," Tapper said. The show, he added, will include national, world and financial news as well as a political story or two. There will also be room for some sports and entertainment. Eventually he hopes to have a correspondent assigned full time to the show as well as a rotation of panelists for round-table discussions during the program's second half-hour.
Tapper also intends to keep working his sources for news.
"I'm a reporter," he said. "I'm not going to stop making phone calls and trying to find out what is going on just because I have a chair behind a desk."
After spending almost a decade at ABC News, Tapper said he wanted to "spread my wings a little beyond politics." As amazing as covering the White House was, Tapper also found it to be a bit "confining."
"I have interests far beyond that," he said.
The show's 4 p.m. time slot may not be ideal for what is essentially a general-interest newscast. Not only will he be competing against daytime TV, but many news watchers are still at work and don't have TVs at their desks. Tapper seemed to acknowledge that if things go well the show could find a home when a bigger audience is available.
"I don't know that we'll be at 4 p.m. forever," he said.
Hiring Tapper is part of the CNN overhaul being led by new President Jeff Zucker. Tapper was being wooed by CNN before Zucker came aboard, and talks heated up and a deal was reached after Zucker got involved in negotiations. Zucker, Tapper said, shared his vision for a show that was more than just political talk.
When Zucker took the helm at CNN, he said that news is "not just about politics and war." One reason: CNN has struggled because viewers don't tune in when there is little breaking news of national import. CNN has resisted going down the road of MSNBC and Fox News, which have found ratings success by having a political point of view to much of their programming.
"There's always going to be people who want their world view to be reaffirmed," said Tapper. "There is room for a cable news network that is just trying to be aggressive and honest and seek the truth."
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.