Steve Krakauer at Mediaite:
Let’s take a look at the key players. Spitzer was a surprise regular guest on Dylan Ratigan’s new MSNBC show starting almost one year ago today. Over this past year he’s risen through the ranks at MSNBC and began anchoring occasionally a couple months ago during news hours. He also, of course, is the former Democratic Governor of New York…and Client 9.
Parker is a conservative columnist and regular pundit on a variety of networks. She memorably called on Sarah Palin to drop out as VP candidate during the 2008 election – a column that to this day has some conservatives calling her “Republican In Name Only.”
In a fairly exhaustive Google search to find anything Parker has written about Spitzer, this was all I could come up with.
It’s fun to joke about Spitzer’s journey from being Client No. 9 to CNN Rising Star No. 1, but really I’m not concerned with TV shows, news or otherwise, rewarding or punishing people’s moral behavior in their hiring practices. This is, after all, the business that employs Charlie Sheen. So if CNN decides that the route to primetime goes through the doors of the Emperor’s Club, I won’t criticize. There are too many other things to criticize.
The first is not that Spitzer has been chosen despite his sex scandal. It’s that he seemingly was chosen, at least in part, because of the scandal: that is, because of the short-term blast of notoriety and buzz that he will bring with him. Now, for all I know, CNN genuinely sees special and distinctive broadcasting talent in Spitzer, but if they do, it’s eluded me in his long recent history as commentator and guest-host on CNN and MSNBC, where—to my ears, anyway—he comes off grating and supercilious. If he didn’t come with the name and the headlines, I have a hard time believing he’d been chosen on the basis of ability alone.
(As for Parker, I’m not familiar enough to say whether she’s a good choice or not, though her résumé is strong enough. But I do have to guess that—call me cynical—given Spitzer’s history it would have been hard for CNN to even consider pairing him with a man. Not that the underrepresentation of men in cable news is exactly a problem, but the idea that pairing Spitzer with a woman makes his choice any better is just icky.)
Further, it seems like CNN is trying to answer a problem cable news doesn’t have, and fill a need viewers aren’t looking to fill. CNN hasn’t named the fall program, but it sounds as if, in some sense, it is essentially reviving Crossfire. I suppose that will be counterprogramming in a sense to Fox and MSNBC’s commentary shows headed by individual hosts, but it’s not exactly as if cable is starved for opinion.
Eliot Spitzer described himself as “extremely thankful” to be getting an opportunity to revive his reputation as a television news host after the tawdry circumstances of his forced resignation as governor of New York.
In a telephone interview discussing his appointment Tuesday to the co-host role in a new prime-time hour on CNN, Mr. Spitzer acknowledged that he would have to deal with the continuing fallout from his admission of patronizing call girls as he tried to rehabilitate his image on the news program.
If the subject of the night’s news discussion touches in some way on behavior of public officials or sexual peccadilloes, Mr. Spitzer said simply, “We’ll deal with it.”
He acknowledged that guests might try to turn the discussion back on him when he pressed them on questions of behavior or judgment. “So be it,” Mr. Spitzer said.
Nick Gillespie at Reason:
I like Parker, but Spitzer, yeesh.
Reason.tv’s interview with Spitzer’s former madam, who did time for supplying the “well respected political mind” with hookers even as he pushed for prosecution of prostitution rings. Kristin Davis is running for NY governor on a platform focused on legalizing sex work, pot and gay marriage and pointing out the inequities of a criminal justice system that, er, put her in jail and let Gov. Spitzer go on to CNN.
Now, riddle me this. If the new show is all about creating an unpredictable alternative to the predictable ideological fare on Olbermann and O’Reilly at that hour — and for the record, O’Reilly ain’t always so predictable — what’s Spitzer doing here? Parker may be, ahem, “unconventional,” but apart from defending Israel from Glenn Greenwald’s broadsides, Client Number Nine’s a pretty doctrinaire Democrat as far as I know. They could have went and gotten our favorite liberal to co-host if they were really that bent on some sort of RINO/DINO centrist news show. As it is, James Poniewozik’s right — it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Spitzer was chosen because of his hooker problem, not in spite of it.
Exit question one: Aren’t they really just aiming for “Morning Joe” in primetime here, albeit with the partisan roles reversed? Exit question two: Worth tuning in to watch the debate whenever there’s a sex scandal in the news, just for the awkward pauses
Michael Kinsley at The Atlantic:
Why can’t CNN President Jonathan Klein have the guts just to admit he was wrong and call his new show “Crossfire”? Or at least to apologize to all the hard-working CNN employees working on Crossfire whom he insulted as he kicked them out the door? (Not me. By the time Klein killed Crossfire, I was long gone, out in Seattle starting Slate.) Crossfire, if you never saw it, was a CNN interview show with two “hosts,” a conservative and a liberal, and two or three “guests,” from the usual pool of camera-ready politicians. When I was involved (though not necessarily for that reason) it was the top show on the network many evenings, with an audience larger than Larry King himself and far larger than anything CNN attracts today.
But then, one fateful evening, Jon Stewart came on to push a humor book, and blindsided the hosts (at that time Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson) by going all gooey and high-minded, and declaring that Crossfire was “hurting America” with its strident argumentation. Klein, opining that audiences wanted information, not opinion, not only took Crossfire and several other CNN discussion shows off the air, but declared that he “wholeheartedly agreed” with Jon Stewart that his own subordinates were hurting their country.
Klein’s principled opposition to opinion lasted just a few months. Soon enough, Anderson Cooper was sobbing all over his black t-shirt in New Orleans and Lou Dobbs had completed his remarkable transition from corporate shill to snarling, pitchfork-bearing populist. And now this. Two hosts, one liberal and one conservative, newsmaker guests, a “spirited” discussion of the issues of the day. But oh no, not Crossfire. Heaven forfend!
And the difference? This show will be “organic,” not “artificial,” explained conservative host Kathleen Parker, a Washington Post columnist, to the Huffington Post. The liberal host, Eliot Spitzer, last seen hiking the Appalachian trail with fellow governor Mark Sanford, amplified: “Big issues, little issues, coming at it from different perspective, same perspective, agree, disagree…. Thoughtful, smart, funny, not boring, not predictable.” On Crossfire, of course, it never occurred to us to try to be thoughtful or smart or any of that pansy stuff. We were just a “simple left vs. right partisan shouting match.” But in the Huffington Post piece, Parker contradicted Spitzer on the partisanship point, saying that she and Spitzer “bring completely different perspectives…which is what this country is all about.” Maybe they can make this their first topic of discussion.
Do you worry every time you leave your house about encountering Eliot Spitzer, who will attempt to pay you for sex, or Kathleen Parker, who will attempt to determine if you are a “full-blooded American,” and then bludgeon you with her Pulitzer Prize if you aren’t? Well, now at least the period from 8 to 9 p.m. every night will be safe, because these two will be busy making eyes at each other on CNN during that time period. Quick, scurry out and purchase supplies!
Spitzer and Parker’s Olde Time Politics Variety Hour will replace Campbell Brown, who was too good and pure for this world. Remember how CNN used to have shouty shows where political enemies would shout at each other, loudly, before Jon Stewart shamed them out of it? Well, that’s not what this show is about! Instead, it will offer “a lively roundup of all the best ideas.” ALL THE BEST IDEAS, ON ANY TOPIC. If your idea isn’t rounded up by this show, it is not the best, or even very good.
Choire Sicha at The Awl:
Starting in September, love guv Eliot Spitzer is now your TV chitchat host on the CNN at 8 p.m. every night (that hour when you don’t watch TV). He’s been partnered with a lady. That lady is Kathleen Parker. She is not bright, basically, though she has a Pulitzer, just like Jennifer Jason Leigh did in the Hudsucker Proxy. CAREER WOMEN, what can you do, etc. I have already canceled this CNN show in my mind.