Accuracy in Media

cnn crossfire newt cutterOn Wednesday, CNN made the move that I have been calling for since April. They canceled the ratings-challenged Crossfire program after less than one year on the air.

Crossfire, which ran on CNN originally from 1982 to 2005, returned last September with four rotating hosts—Van Jones and Stephanie Cutter on the left, and Newt Gingrich and S.E Cupp on the right.

After an initial ratings surge brought on by curious viewers, the show quickly established itself as one of CNN’s lowest-rated programs. That prompted CNN to place the program on hiatus twice, so that they could devote more time to covering Malaysian flight MH370 and other breaking news that attracted more viewers.

At the time of its cancellation, Crossfire had been on hiatus since mid-July, which didn’t portend well for the program.

Crossfire was one of the first “new” programs that CNN president and CEO Jeff Zucker launched. But any real chance of success—a relative term when speaking about CNN—was lost with Zucker’s decision to make it a 30-minute show, taking away time from Wolf Blizter’s program to air it. After all, who puts a half-hour program in a cable news environment built on an hour-long format? That shows that Zucker didn’t have a lot of confidence it its success.

The handwriting has been on the wall for months. But CNN was able to save Zucker the embarrassment of admitting he botched it by waiting to announce the cancellation as part of a company-wide retrenchment, and not because it was a ratings disaster.

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