To the surprise of no one, CNN has re-upped Anderson Cooper through the next presidential election cycle. Ratings on his 8 PM AC 360 are up 28% in the news demo, though viewers continue to elude his 10 PM program AC 360 Later, which is down 14% over year-ago time-slot status. More important to CNN, Cooper’s one of the strongest on-air-talent brands in all of TV news, with an incredible knack for making himself part of the storyline. Just recently Cooper juggled two such career-boosting scenarios simultaneously, when he got into a war of words with the wife of the Philippine Interior Secretary over this characterization of the Philippine government’s response to typhoon devastation, while also spitballing Alec Baldwin over the MSNBC host’s latest homophobic rant.

That brand-building talent has not gone unnoticed. Deadline reported in March that NBC execs approached Cooper about joining ratings-hungry Today, to replace Matt Lauer (NBC News denied the report as it pertained to replacing Lauer, but acknowledged to other news outlets it conducts exploratory talks with various talent outside the network).