CNN firmed up its plans to revive “Crossfire,” the right-vs.-left debate program the Time Warner cabler canceled in 2005 amid concerns the verbal jousting on the show was getting more notice than the subtance of the issues being discussed.
The network said “Crossfire” would return to its air in the fall, though it did not release a launch date or time for the show. Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and commentator and MSNBC host S.E. Cupp will take the stand for the conservative viewpoint while Stephanie Cutter, a one-time adviser to both President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, will join with Van Jones, a civil-rights activist and attorney, will represent the liberal perspective.
Announcement of the show is the latest programming maneuver from CNN, which has suffered in the ratings in recent years – particularly in its primetime lineup. Since former NBCUniversal topper Jeff Zucker arrived earlier this year as president of CNN Worldwide, CNN has hired new personnel, placed a greater emphasis on documentary-style series and films, worked harder to maximize breaking events and trending news and launched a new ayem talker.
“Crossfire” was one of the network’s longest-running programs. It launched in 1982, with hosts Tom Braden and Pat Buchanan parrying over the issues of the day. Subsequent hosts included Michael Kinsey, Robert Novak, Bill Press, Geraldine Ferraro, Mary Matalin, John Sununu, James Carville, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.
The show took some lumps in 2004 when “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart appeared on the program and savaged it by saying, “You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.” The comedian felt the show did not allow for substantial discussion of the issues its hosts debated. CNN’s then-chief Jon Klein indicated in 2005 he felt Stewart’s remarks had resonated.
CNN has strived to remain centrist in many of its programs, even as rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC have found ratings success with more partisan talk programs.