Spitzer’s Detour Through Scarborough Country

Everyone seems to be obsessed with “Crossfire” as the model for CNN’s planned roundtable show hosted by Eliot Spitzer and Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, even though the network insists otherwise.

And they’re right. The show is derivative in a completely different way.

Blond female journalist paired with former politician of different ideological stripe? Sounds a whole lot like the formula for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mike Brzezinski, only with the political polarity reversed. (Spitzer’s the liberal here, Parker the conservative.)

The really interesting part of all this is how Spitzer went from political exile to cable news flavor of the month, with both CNN and MSNBC circling him to host a talkshow before he landed at the former. But the wild card here is actually Parker, who I’ve always been impressed with in her talking-head stints — appearing smart, pragmatic and not prone to simply parrot talking points. (She drew considerable criticism from fellow conservatives for daring to state that Sarah Palin is out of her depth on the national political stage.)

My main quibble with the show, frankly, is that the concept of featuring Spitzer would seem to undermine CNN’s stated “We’re all about the journalism” mantra. If you’re all about the journalism, why not hire (broadcast) journalists? The answer, of course, self-evidently lies in all the attention showered on the program’s announcement because of Spitzer’s colorful past. And therein lies the problem, both with print journalism and cable news.

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