Currently in a rebuilding phase after a precipitous slide from its former dominance of the cable-news world, CNN has been adding new on-air talent, such as former ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper, and is also reaching back into its past.
Last week, CNN revived the current-events/debate program “Crossfire,” blending a long-running format with a roster of new faces. The daily 30-minute show features two hosts and guests each night, with the co-hosts also appearing across other CNN programming.
From 1982 until 2005, “Crossfire” was a mainstay of the network’s daytime lineup, examining the news from the points of view of a politically liberal and a conservative pundit.
The first pairing was journalist and author Tom Braden (“Eight Is Enough”) on the liberal side, and commentator, politician and broadcaster Pat Buchanan, as the conservative.
Later rosters for both the daytime show and a Sunday edition included Robert Novak, John Sununu, Tony Snow, Lynne Cheney, Mary Matalin and Tucker Carlson, representing the right; and Bob Beckel, Geraldine Ferraro, Bill Press, Paul Begala and James Carville, representing the left.
Perhaps the show’s last flash of relevance in its original incarnation came in 2004, when comedian and political satirist Jon Stewart appeared to promote a book and wound up lecturing the hosts – and by extension the fans – on his belief that the back-and-forth bickering on “Crossfire” (which, considering the show’s title, couldn’t have come to Stewart as a surprise) was harming political discourse.
While the show’s demise has not noticeably improved political discourse, CNN has decided to return to the format with three panelists of recent vintage and one who’s been on the political scene for decades.
In the revamped “Crossfire,” the representatives of the liberal side are Van Jones, an environmental and civil-rights activist and attorney, and Stephanie Cutter, a deputy manager of President Obama’s re-election campaign.
Representing the conservative viewpoint are columnist and commentator S.E. Cupp (seen most recently on MSNBC’s “The Cycle”), and former Speaker of the House, author and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.