[FoRK] "I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp"

Joseph S. Barrera III joe at barrera.org
Wed Jan 5 19:43:40 PST 2005


CNN Lets 'Crossfire' Host Carlson Go

Wed Jan 5, 5:04 PM ET

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer

NEW YORK - CNN said goodbye to pundit Tucker Carlson on Wednesday, and 
with him likely the "Crossfire" program that has been the granddaddy of 
high-volume political debate shows on cable television.

CNN will probably fold "Crossfire" into its other programming, perhaps 
as an occasional segment on the daytime show "Inside Politics," said 
Jonathan Klein, who was appointed in late November as chief executive of 
CNN's U.S. network.

Klein on Wednesday told Carlson, one of the four "Crossfire" hosts, that 
CNN would not be offering him a new contract. Carlson has reportedly 
been talking with MSNBC about a prime-time opening replacing Deborah 

Carlson did not immediately return a call to his cell phone for comment.

The bow-tied wearing conservative pundit got into a public tussle last 
fall with comic Jon Stewart, who has been critical of cable political 
programs that devolve into shoutfests.

"I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp," Klein told 
The Associated Press.

He 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 (news - web sites) 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 

Klein said he hoped Novak, Begala and Carville would continue with 
meaningful commentator roles at CNN.

Carlson had one failed bid at prime time on CNN with "The Spin Room," 
which was canceled for low ratings after less than six months in 2001.

He subbed last week for newscaster Aaron Brown as Klein wanted to see 
him in a different role before making a decision about his future. Klein 
said his views on wanting to change the tone of political coverage were 
separate from the decision to keep Carlson.

"His career aspirations and our programming needs just don't synch up," 
Klein said. "He wants to host his own nighttime show and we don't see 
that in the cards here. Out of respect for him and his talent, we 
thought it would be best to let him explore opportunities elsewhere."

An MSNBC spokesman had no comment on CNN's decision.

"We think Tucker is a great journalist and we're exploring our options 
for a new 9 p.m. show," said MSNBC's Jeremy Gaines.

This Jerusalemic holy ground is only fit for mealy mouths
Whose contamination breeds subordination
I've said too many times, but who leads that kind of life?
When my time comes, around who will plead my innocence?

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