Eliot Spitzer, Kathleen Parker Hired by CNN

By kevin 

Breaking: TVNewser has learned that former NY governor Eliot Spitzer and columnist Kathleen Parker have signed a contract with CNN.

The pair will host an 8pmET roundtable discussion show to replace Campbell Brown’s primetime program, according to a memo CNN/US President Jon Klein sent to staff. The network is looking for an executive producer.

Klein wrote that CNN’s “Program Development and Research teams identified scores of interesting candidates” before settling on the two and that the network is looking to launch the program in early fall.

“Our new hosts’ backgrounds and perspectives bear obvious differences,” Klein explained of his new hosts, neither of which are established television journalists. “But they agree on at least one thing: that honest, vigorous, wide-ranging debate and discussion — driven by facts, not hysteria — is the best means of uncovering the solutions America craves.” Read the full note after the jump.

Brown announced she would be stepping down from her hosting duties in May. In a personal note, she had acknowledged ratings struggles and wrote, “I owe it to myself and to CNN to get out of the way so that CNN can try something else.”

Speculation ensued and Spitzer’s name continued to pop up as a favorite for the job. At the time, the former Governor had been regularly filling in for Dylan Ratigan at MSNBC and there were rumors that he was also talking with that network about a potential role.

Update: It’s official. Press release put out by CNN (after the jump) and story posted on CNN’s Political Ticker.

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CNN to Launch Nightly News and Events Discussion Program Hosted by Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Kathleen Parker and former New York governor Eliot Spitzer will co-host a spirited, nightly roundtable discussion program on CNN/U.S., it was announced today by Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S. The new program, set to debut this fall, will air weeknights at 8pm Eastern time.

Spitzer, a legendary prosecutor and progressive governor, and Parker, an iconoclastic conservative commentator, will host a dynamic exchange of opinions and analyses – their own, and those of their guests and regular contributors – on the most important, compelling and amusing stories of the day.

“Other cable news channels force-feed viewers one narrow, predictable point of view; in contrast, CNN will be offering a lively roundup of all the best ideas – presented by two of the most intelligent and outspoken figures in the country,” said Klein. “Eliot and Kathleen are beholden to no vested interest – in fact, quite the opposite: they are renowned for taking on the most powerful targets and most important causes.”

Parker is one of the nation’s most prolific and popular opinion columnists, appearing twice weekly in more than 400 newspapers. A self-described “rational” conservative, she is known to take a common sense approach to life and writes with humor and wit. In May she was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her political opinion columns, which she launched in 1987 while a staff writer for the Orlando Sentinel. It was nationally syndicated in 1995 and she joined the Washington Post Writers Group in 2006. She has written for magazines including the Weekly Standard, Time, Town & Country, Cosmopolitan and Fortune Small Business, and is a contributor to The Daily Beast. She also serves on USA Today’s board of contributors and writes occasionally for the paper’s op-ed page. In 1993 she won the H.L. Mencken writing award and in 2004 and 2005 she was named one of the country’s Top Five Columnists by The Week.

“As a veteran print journalist, I am appropriately respectful of the challenges posed by the medium,” said Parker. “But I’m thrilled by the opportunity to discuss the issues that matter to me —and that aren’t heard often enough on television—in a conversation with one of the nation’s most brilliant, fearless and original thinkers. With Eliot Spitzer as my co-host, Wall Street and Main Street will finally meet. It can’t possibly be boring.”

Spitzer, a renowned prosecutor and former Governor of the State of New York, is frequently referred to as the “Sheriff of Wall Street,” having prosecuted abuses among major Wall Street firms as well as numerous other industries, both as a young lawyer and as New York State Attorney General. As Attorney General from 1998 to 2006, Spitzer led several high-profile cases battling corruption throughout the financial services sector and led groundbreaking cases in the areas of environmental protection and civil rights enforcement. As Governor, Spitzer restructured New York’s system of education finance, began the process of fundamental health care reform and focused economic development on New York’s upstate economy.

Spitzer was born and raised in the Bronx and is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Following law school, Spitzer clerked for Federal District Judge Robert W. Sweet; was an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, where he prosecuted organized crime and political corruption cases; and worked at several prominent private law firms. Spitzer is currently a contributor to Slate.com.

“Kathleen is an extraordinary intellect whose sharp observations and wit are certain to resonate with viewers,” said Spitzer. “I look forward to working alongside her in a discussion that will inform, challenge, and entertain. I am grateful to CNN for the opportunity to co-host a show that will advance the discussion of the defining issues of our time.”

I’m pleased to announce two new additions to CNN’s prime-time lineup: former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Kathleen Parker – two incisive, electric commentators who each night will challenge our viewers, and each other, to think in fresh new ways about the most important issues of the day. As you will see in the press release attached below, our new hosts’ backgrounds and perspectives bear obvious differences. But they agree on at least one thing: that honest, vigorous, wide-ranging debate and discussion – driven by facts, not hysteria – is the best means of uncovering the solutions America craves. To arrive at this decision, our Program Development and Research teams identified scores of interesting candidates and spent countless hours evaluating the possibilities. In particular, I’d like to thank Randi Subarsky, Josanne Lopez, and Robin Garfield for their tireless efforts and acute insights. We will now turn our focus toward selecting the best executive producer for this ambitious new show, and set to work laying the groundwork for a successful launch in early Fall. Kathleen and Eliot’s remarkable careers have both been characterized by fearlessness in crusading for the ideas they believe in, confronting powerful interests in the process – and we’re delighted to have them bringing that spirit to the 8 o’clock hour. Please join me in welcoming them to CNN.