During the recent presidential campaign, it became all too clear that the cable news networks’ definition of balanced debate is to invite two partisan spinners from each side to spout their party line. Over the course of a 5 – 7 minute segment, each strategist misrepresents the other side’s views and cuts the other person off, with the network anchor stepping in a few times like a boxing ref, presumably representing the objective mediator.
After a few rounds, the network anchor calls the match, thanks the participants for the viewpoints and then typically makes a comment about the valuable discussion of the issue that has taken place. One of the ultimate example’s of this sort of fake debate is CNN’s “Crossfire.” But not for long. According to The New York Times, the show is canceled, and in fact today was co-host Tucker Carlson’s last day. New CNN president Jonathan Klein told the Times that the network is moving away from Crossfire type debate:
Instead, Mr. Klein said, CNN wants to do “roll-up-your-sleeves storytelling,” and he said that was not a role he saw for Mr. Carlson. “There are outlets for the kind of show Tucker wants to do and CNN isn’t going to be one of them,” he said.
Mr. Klein said he wanted to move CNN away from what he called “head-butting debate shows,” which have become the staple of much of all-news television in the prime-time hours, especially at the top-rated Fox News Channel.
We’ll see how this all plays out, what this really means, and how much patience Klein has for the new approach, the Times articles ends with…
The rest of CNN’s prime-time lineup will be moving toward reporting the day’s events and not discussing them, he said.
Mr. Klein said he had no intention of changing that approach, but he added a caveat. “Not unless the first batch of things we’re trying to do don’t turn out well,” he said.