Still searching for a ratings winner, CNN’s new president Jeff Zucker is going back in time. He is reportedly bringing back one of the network’s longest running programs, Crossfire, beginning in June.
The show, which pitted Tom Braden and Pat Buchanan in a left-right debate on a variety of topics, first aired on CNN in 1982 and was last seen in 2005.
After Braden and Buchanan left the show, Crossfire had a myriad of hosts that included Robert Novak, Michael Kinsley, Mary Matalin, James Carville, John Sununu, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson. AIM’s Cliff Kincaid was a frequent guest co-host, sitting in for Pat Buchanan.
The revolving chair of hosts and the rise of talk radio—which gave voice to conservatives—eventually took its toll on the program’s ratings and led to the cancellation of the program in 2005.
According to the website Deadline, CNN doesn’t yet have a time slot for the program, nor has it determined whether it will be a 30-minute or 60-minute program. If it goes for an hour, it could be slotted in primetime, but anything shorter would mean that it would have to air sometime during the day, in which CNN is also struggling.
Zucker is apparently planning on drawing from the stable of personalities and contributors at CNN to host the program—even though the network doesn’t exactly have a deep bench of people on the right—before selecting permanent hosts.
My first suggestion would be to use current CNN contributor and Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media award winner Dana Loesch on the right. It wouldn’t make much of a difference who CNN puts on the left, because if they’re going against Loesch, she’ll more than likely tear them to shreds.
Reviving Crossfire is an interesting idea, but since the show last aired, CNN has fallen into third place in the ratings. It has struggled to build an identity with the viewers it has remaining. If Zucker can make the show both informative and entertaining, and keep it from becoming a shout fest, he may succeed. But the cable news airwaves are now cluttered with shows on both sides of the political spectrum. Crossfire is no longer unique, as it was in 1982.