So Crossfire is coming back to CNN. With Newt Gingrich as one of the new hosts of the show. I guess his Fox contract must be up. And the egregious Van Jones as one of the other co-hosts. Is this really a good idea?
I have to agree with Jon Stewart’s criticism generally that the show had descended into self-parody and worthless slogan-shouting. Back when it started in the early 1980s (locally in DC first as the Braden-Buchanan show), it was pretty good–a slightly higher energy version of Firing Line. Newt rightly recalls the old days thus:
Crossfire focused on big questions and featured well prepared advocates from both sides of the issue.
People got in the habit of watching Crossfire because they knew they would hear a good debate. Whether you were a liberal, a conservative, or an undecided independent, you found yourself listening to the other side and having to confront arguments and facts that weren’t part of your normal conversation.
Part of what made Crossfire work was the quality of its guests. A lot of knowledgable, influential people knew that Crossfire would give them a chance to make their arguments and be heard on their issues. They came prepared because they knew the other side would have spent hours getting ready and would have solid rebuttals and good arguments.
But it aged badly, and no longer became a forum for even a short debate of any serious quality. Maybe it didn’t age as badly as The McLaughlin Group, which the FCC really ought to prohibit on hi-def TV out of tenderness for the viewing audience. Hi-def is not kind to any of the regulars on that show any more.