CNN to kill Crossfire – Tucker “Dick” Carlson to leave for the 9pm weeknight slot on MSNBC.
Though Jon Stewart’s approach left much to be desired in the courtesy and interpersonal relationship departments, his basic contention that hyped-up confrontational debate shows like Crossfire do not contribute to public discourse and primarily serve the purpose of polarization appears to have been swallowed whole by new CNN president Jonathan Klein:
- “I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp,” Klein told The Associated Press.
Klein said all of the cable networks, including CNN, have overdosed on programming devoted to arguing over issues. Klein said he wants more substantive programming that is still compelling.
“I doubt that when the president sits down with his advisers they scream at him to bring him up to date on all of the issues,” he said. “I don’t know why we don’t treat the audience with the same respect.”
“Crossfire” began in 1982 and was once a mainstay of CNN’s prime time. Pat Buchanan from the right and Michael Kinsley from the left were two of its most prominent hosts.
But as Fox News Channel perfected the format with popular hosts Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, “Crossfire” lost favor among CNN executives and was moved to the afternoons in 2002. It averages 447,000 viewers each weekday, down 21 percent from the previous season, according to Nielsen Media Research. Carlson rotates as host with conservative columnist Bob Novak. Paul Begala and James Carville are the left-leaning ringleaders.
Klein said he hoped Novak, Begala and Carville would continue with meaningful commentator roles at CNN. [AP]
Howard Kurtz has some interesting additional information:
- Carlson told CNN last April that he was through as a co-host of “Crossfire” but agreed to continue while trying to negotiate a new role before his contract expired next week. He praised the show but said that he felt constrained by its left-right format and that “when my opinions diverged from those of the White House it was difficult” to conduct the expected debate, particularly when he opposed the Iraq war.
With the moves, Klein seems to be saying if you can’t beat ’em (Fox News that is) then run in the other direction.
See Kevin Holtsberry’s interview with Carlson here.