CNN is really truly bringing back the political yelling show Crossfire — and it's going to be even better this time, because it will star Newt Gingrich. Crossfire was cancelled in 2005, not long after The Daily Show's Jon Stewart went on as a guest and shamed Tucker Carlson for "hurting America." The new incarnation will feature a fascinating panel of hosts: Gingrich, conservative columnist S.E. Cupp, former Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter (at right), and Van Jones, who was President Obama's green czar in 2009 before his signature on a 9/11 truther petition was unearthed.
Gingrich appeared to be courting CNN when his presidential campaign started to falter in 2012. "In our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than FOX this year," Gingrich said. "We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are [on] FOX, and we're more likely to get distortion out of FOX. That's just a fact." Those were strong words, because before his campaign, Gingrich was a paid Fox contributor — and because he yelled at John King on CNN during a debate last year, then said King did a good job. Gingrich's TV appearances got more exciting, like when he talked about how a black mamba attacks on MSNBC. Fox chief Roger Ailes dismissed Gingrich's criticism, saying, "trying to get a job at CNN because he knows he isn’t going to get to come back to Fox News." Well, it worked!
"Few programs in the history of CNN have had the kind of impact on political discourse that Crossfire did — it was a terrific program then, and we believe the time is right to bring it back and do it again," CNN president Jeff Zucker said in a press release. Zucker did not specify what kind of impact the show had — good, bad, or America-ruining. But unscripted debate shows like Crossfire are handy for figuring out what's going on in the liberal or conservative id at the moment. This will be especially true of Gingrich, who, as a 70-year-old former presidential candidate, doesn't have anything to lose by saying shocking or ridiculous or counterintuitive-for-the-sake-of-it things. His personality makes for great TV, because he can be moody — you never know if you'll get boyishly cheery Newt or mean bitter Newt. He loves to talk about animals on TV. And he has the huge head of so many TV personalities.
TVNewser's Alex Weprin reported in April that Zucker was working on bringing back the show as part of his high-profile rebranding of CNN. Crossfire ran from 1982 to 2005, and and featured hosts like Michael Kinsley, James Carville, Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak, John Sununu, and Geraldine Ferraro.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.