CNN Dumps Parker (But Keeps Spitzer)

In a much anticipated move, Kathleen Parker has been dropped from the CNN prime-time show that she co-hosted with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.

After just four months on the air, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist has signed off from Parker Spitzer for the final time, although Spitzer will remain on board as the 8 p.m. show morphs into what CNN is calling an “ensemble format.”

The network characterized Parker’s exit as a decision that was arrived at mutually. In a statement, Parker said she had decided to concentrate on her syndicated newspaper column and other writing assignments. “While I am extremely proud of the show we created…it was a difficult decision to scale back my column a few months ago,” Parker said. “With the show going in a new direction, it is a good time to move on.”

The new Spitzer program kicks off Monday, Feb. 28 in the 8 p.m. time slot. Dubbed In the Arena, the one-hour show will feature a fluid lineup of contributors like CNN’s E.D. Hill and Will Cain, as well as special newsmakers and guests.
Despite Parker Spitzer’s rickety ratings performance––the show bowed on Oct. 4, 2010, to just 454,000 viewers and has struggled throughout its run––CNN executive vice president Ken Jautz said he was pleased with the substance of the show, saying it had become “a centerpiece of substantive, policy-oriented conversation.”

On Wednesday night (the most recent for which Nielsen has made live-plus-same-day ratings available), Parker Spitzer drew 713,000 viewers, including 211,000 members of the core news demo, adults 25-54. Over on Fox News Channel, top-rated The O’Reilly Factor served up 3.32 million viewers and 837,000 adults 25-54. The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC’s replacement for Countdown With Keith Olbermann, delivered 1.04 million total viewers/244,000 25-54s.

Spitzer and his erstwhile co-host were said to have mixed it up on the set, as Parker vented about the former governor’s habit of hijacking the nightly broadcast. Rumors continued to simmer throughout the winter until this morning when reports began circulating that Spitzer had been telling friends that Parker was on her way out.

In a statement, Spitzer was all sweetness and light, wishing Parker the best in her career. “It has been a joy working with her as a teammate, and I continue to be a huge fan of the wisdom that jumps from her written work and the wit, charm and insight she brings to all that she does,” Spitzer said.

Once thought to have a fast track to the White House, Spitzer resigned from office in 2008 after admitting that he had patronized an upscale prostitution ring.