CNN exec: ‘Crossfire’ will be ‘excellent forum’ for Syria debate

September 3, 2013
 Carolyn Kaster / The Associated Press
(Carolyn Kaster /Associated Press)

Syria proved too tempting for CNN. After President Obama signaled on Saturday that he’d seek congressional authorization for the use of force against Syria, the network amended the debut of its re-launch of fabled argue-fest “Crossfire.” Originally scheduled to hit the air on Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m., the program will now go forward a week earlier, on Sept. 9.

That means that “Crossfire” will flop onto a hot polemical griddle as Congress returns to work with the Syria question front and center. So one way to view the “Crossfire” launch-date change is a transparent bid for ratings. Another way to view it is that the country needs “Crossfire” to process all the questions presented by the Syria crisis. “It’s safe to say that ‘Crossfire’ will be an excellent forum to have this conversation,” says CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist, who notes that it’s “very rare that we have a major national debate over the use of the military.”

The notion that “Crossfire” was essential to any particular debate took a beating back in 2004, when “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart appeared on the program and alleged it was “hurting America.” “Crossfire” was discontinued in 2005. Its new incarnation will feature hosts Newt Gingrich, S.E. Cupp, Van Jones and Stephanie Cutter. It’ll take on one topic per broadcast, a feature that Feist says is rare on television these days.

In other CNN news, Fox News’s Howard Kurtz on Sunday will aim directly at the audience of “Reliable Sources,” the CNN media-crit show that he anchored for 15 years. Of going head-to-head with his CNNer, Feist noted, “I’ve always believed that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. We wish Howie well.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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Erik Wemple | August 30, 2013