As CNN weighs bringing back the political debate show “Crossfire,” Salon’s Alex Pareene writes that doing so may be perilous, because the show is “irrelevant.”
Rather than take the Jon Stewart approach to criticizing the show, Pareene argues that the cable news competition has filled the void in a way that will make it hard for “Crossfire” to stand out and draw attention. Fox News and MSNBC have carved out safe homes for die-hard liberals and die-hard conservatives on cable TV. Given that–pretty much by definition–anyone really into politics will be partisan, it is hard to imagine a show without a political point of view appealing to political junkies.
Fox made “Crossfire” irrelevant by parodying its model on “Hannity & Colmes” and then ditching Colmes in favor of a network-wide interchangeable cast of weak, milquetoast liberals and pseudo-liberals, for its Alpha Male ultra-conservatives to use as punching bags. MSNBC belatedly struck gold with a politer model in which reasonable hosts, some of whom are unabashed lefties, host non-argumentative discussions with guests representing a wider ideological (and ethnic and professional) range than cable news usually presents. (There is also still Chris Matthews and Larry O’Donnell shouting with and at people.) Those proved to be more popular models of political talking shows. CNN is constitutionally unable to imitate either, unfortunately.
What do you think, can CNN pull off a “Crossfire” reboot? Let us know in the comments.