‘Crossfire’ Creator On CNN’s New 8 p.m. Show: ‘I Can’t Think of a Worse Idea’

By Alex Weprin 

Lots of people have compared CNN’s new 8 p.m. program featuring Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker to the canceled debate show “Crossfire.” Now you can add the man who created “Crossfire” to that list. Reese Schonfeld, CNN’s first president and the man who created the original “program in 1982, says of the new show “to be blunt, I can’t think of a worse idea.”

Schonfeld, writing in a blog for the Huffington Post, recalls the original concept behind the program, which at the time featured Pat Buchanan and Tom Braden. The idea was, the day’s top newsmaker would appear on the show, and Buchanan and Braden would pepper them with questions from the right and the left, “the guest would be caught in the crossfire,” Schonfeld recalls.

CNN was created as a news network, and the 10pm hour, where the Crossfire show had been originally scheduled, was supposed to make news. By interviewing the protagonist of the day’s leading story, we hoped we could get him to say something that would advance the story by at least one news cycle, and have everybody quoting us in the next day’s newspaper. The guest was supposed to deliver fresh information, not controversy. Unfortunately, for twenty years, Crossfire shed more heat than light, and I suspect Spitzer-Parker will do the same.

Schonfeld also recalls that CNN founder Ted Turner hated the original concept, but had to move it to a prime spot at 7:30 pm.. because it became such a big hit.

He also weighs in on Spitzer and Parker:

The dictatorial Eliot Spitzer is the antithesis of the strong, but cordially polite, Tom Braden, and Kathleen Parker is no Pat Buchanan. According to the New York Times, she characterizes herself as “pro-life…But I don’t go around carrying a fetus in a jar.” Buchanan, like Barry Goldwater before him, was not afraid of being considered extreme. Parker seems to avoid it at all costs.

(h/t Johnny $)

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