CNN today removed one of the last vestiges of former CNN president Jonathan Klein with the canceling today of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s show, “In the Arena,” after only nine months on the air.
Spitzer, who was paired last year by Klein with conservative columnist Kathleen Parker in a show that failed both in terms of on-screen chemistry and ratings, received a second chance when Parker left the show in February.
But in the last few months, while being in control of his own program, Spitzer showed that it wasn’t Parker who was holding ratings down as much as it was his own ego and the fact that viewers were never comfortable with the prostitute-loving former governor.
Yet no matter what he and the network tried the program remained a distant third place in his time slot, and often fell below 100,000 viewers on the key A25-54 demographic that advertisers use to determine where to spend their money.
The handwriting was on the wall after CNN signed former CNBC anchor Erin Burnett and started to hire staff for the still to be named show, though some rumors circulated that it was John King’s show that was in danger and not Spitzer’s.
“We engaged serious people in conversations about national and global issues in a way that was informative and challenging,” Spitzer said in a statement provided by CNN. “I believe that we provided diverse and valuable perspectives during the show’s tenure.”
For CNN this brings to an end one of the worst programming decisions ever made in cable news, with the pairing of two hosts who couldn’t get along and the subsequent effort to save face by remaking the show, all to no avail.
Anderson Cooper’s “AC360” will take over the vacated time slot which should give CNN a lift as Cooper’s program has been one of the network’s better performers. It certainly won’t do any worse than Spitzer.
Besides Spitzer the other loser in this lineup change is Keith Olbermann whose new program on Current TV will now face much stiffer competition than originally envisioned, which isn’t likely to elicit much sympathy from his former employer MSNBC.