“How many shows have been on cable TV for 17 years?,” Al Hunt asked TVNewser yesterday. He paused, and concluded that Larry King has lasted that long (and Crossfire, but that doesn’t count anymore).
So what kept CNN’s Capital Gang going? “Sterling personalities? Great reportorial insights? I don’t know,” Hunt said in a phone interview. “I think we had fun, I think that showed, and I think we had lots of cumulative experiences that we brought [to the table].”
The long-lasting weekend political show is signing off tonight at 7pm. It’s a bittersweet but logical conclusion to the program, Hunt said. “A number of us had different directions we were moving in,” he explained. (When Hunt moved to Bloomberg, he agreed to conclude his Capital Gang stint, because the company’s TV operation is expanding.) “There were one or two people who wanted to leave in January, and we talked them into staying together.” Bob Novak wanted the gang to stick around until October, to mark the show’s anniversary, but CNN decided to wrap it up in June.
Capital Gang premiered on October 15, 1988. “The first issue we discussed was the famous Bush Sr./Dukakis debate that Bernard Shaw moderated,” Hunt recalled. The gang reminisced about the years at a party on Thursday. “It’s been a great source of joy for us,” Hunt said. “We have tremendously loyal viewers and I’m deeply appreciative for a great staff over there.” But the sign-off isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As Hunt joked, “my weekends are free now.”