If you enjoyed the endless, empty rhetorical skirmishes that failed to have any affect on the 2012 presidential campaign, tune in to CNN in June. Two veterans of those useless fights, Stephanie Cutter and Newt Gingrich, may be back at it on Crossfire. Why bother?
According to Politico's Dylan Byers, Cutter, a deputy campaign manager for Obama For America, and Gingrich, the Republican candidate who failed to convince Americans of their need for permanent moon base, are set to reprise the roles once played by former Clinton White House adviser Paul Begala and future Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson. Like their predecessors, Cutter and Gingrich are two people who've staked out well-entrenched political positions and who will ably defend them to the death — or at least until a commercial break. Head to YouTube and search for "cutter" or "gingrich" alongside any micro-fight that cropped up last year. Safe bet you'll quickly be directed to a video with one or both offering an opinion on it.
Nothing, of course, is done at CNN. Byers describes his sources as "familiar with the discussions" which also the sum total of the source's quotes: "They are talking to Cutter and to Gingrich. Another source told him, "[Cutter] is in discussions; Newt is in discussions, too."
But if it all comes together, it will be a reunion of sorts for the duo. In one of their most famous interactions, Cutter came out on top without having to say much at all. She simply let Gingrich do the talking.
If you're not interested in waiting for it, the end result of the exchange was summarized by Slate like so: Gingrich was "defending Richard Mourdock for saying forced impregnation through rape is a 'gift from God' by telling people to 'get over it.'" This is what you can expect from Crossfire 2013, or whatever Jeff Zucker decides to call it: Take the urgent topic of the day, chop it into bite-sized pieces, and throw it in between the lions.
The question is: Who will watch? Some people will tune in to watch Newt Gingrich, to be sure. If nothing else, his brief return to the national stage last year reminded America that he's entertaining. CNN has been giving short shrift to detailed discussions of possible moon bases of late. And perhaps some dynamic that will emerge between Cutter and Gingrich that will be unusually compelling.
The odds are it won't. And the odds are that people may quickly be reminded of the reasons that they didn't like Gingrich. His "get over it" comments spread quickly precisely because they reinforced a perception that Gingrich is a bit of a bully. In a debate, that's fun to watch. Every day, it isn't.
It really doesn't matter who hosts. On earlier iterations of the show, you could see Michael Kinsley battle Pat Buchanan. The show was unique, its hosts sharply honed. One of the reasons that the most recent version of the show failed — done in largely by Jon Stewart's devastating excoriation that it cheapened political debate — is that it was no longer a unique contributor to debate. And since, that problem has grown worse. Every show is Crossfire. The format has been informally repeated ad nauseum — including on CNN. What's the difference between the new Crossfire and CNN's short-lived Parker Spitzer, except for the gender of the party assignations and the kind of sexual indiscretions the public knows about the male host?
Or, put another way, what's new here? Nothing. Twitter wag @pourmecoffee sums it up elegantly.
America is truly out of fresh ideas if 2016 ends up being Newt Gingrich on CNN talking about a Clinton v. Bush presidential race.— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) April 23, 2013
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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