With Jon Stewart away, CNN rekindles 'Crossfire'

If it feels as if the world of TV news just got a little bit stupider, it's not just because Paula Deen was on the "Today" show Wednesday morning, tearfully trying to spin herself out of a situation largely of her own making.

It's because CNN's decided to bring back "Crossfire." It returns this fall, with Newt Gingrich and S.E. Cupp on Team Right and Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones on Team Left.

Maybe a monkey or two could be brought in to represent those of us in the middle.

“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,” said Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, in a prepared statement.

(Before Zucker headed CNN and even before he spent years helping to drive NBC into fourth place, he ran the "Today" show, so maybe it's all just the circle of life.)

Zucker is entitled to his memories. But what I remember about "Crossfire" is that it epitomized a medium in which "political discourse" came to mean "people shouting at each other and getting exactly nowhere," and I think it's interesting that its return is being announced while Jon Stewart is off in the Middle East, directing a movie.

(This is not a slam on John Oliver, whose hosting of "The Daily Show" has been a nightly delight, with Oliver seeming, if anything, more pointed in his commentaries than Stewart.)

But if you've forgotten why "Crossfire" was such a stupid program, here's Stewart, on "Crossfire" in 2004, a few months before it was canceled, asking the people then on the show to "stop hurting America."


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