Way, way back in the day, CNN used to have this show called "Crossfire," because it was cheaper than actually reporting the news. Occupying an hour of the network's time, Crossfire pitted a rotating array of conservative pundits against a rotating array of liberal pundits, who then performed a deranged mummenschanz in front of a studio audience, in which each contended that their side's set of Beltway cocktail-party talking points were superior to the other side's.
This never, ever, ever accomplished anything, and the last incarnation of the show was finally scuttled not long after Daily Show host Jon Stewart appeared as a guest and declared that the entire enterprise was "hurting America."
Which may have been a bit of an overstatement. For my part, I sort of saw Crossfire as simple depraved indifference in which CNN, given an hour to do anything in the world it wanted to, simply opted to not help America.
Since then, however, CNN went out and hired "failed gimmick king" Jeff Zucker -- best known as the man who left a sad, smoking crater where the National Broadcasting Company once stood. And Zucker, who values unit-shifting zazz above anything that would otherwise be an asset to a news-gathering organization, has lately had the bright idea of reanimating the corpse of "Crossfire."
If you've seen the new "Evil Dead" reboot then you've already sampled a very sly satire of what will probably happen to CNN when and if this show is revived, but if you want to have yourself a nice case of the shudders and spend the rest of the day in tears, you should sample some of Dylan Byers' reporting on the matter:
Sources now tell POLITICO that the network is in discussions with former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and former Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter about roles on the show.
"They are talking to Cutter and to Gingrich," a source familiar with the discussions said. "[Cutter] is in discussions; Newt is in discussions too," another source confirmed.
Pitting the Obama campaign's YouTube snark-assassin against the 2012 campaign's most accomplished huckster pretty much makes it impossible for the revived Crossfire to be anything more than the Beltway-centric faux-bloodsport crapshow that the old one was. Everyone, I'm sure, will be paid handsomely to interfere with the goals of fact-gathering and news dissemination. Byers goes on to report that "it is unclear whether the former House Speaker and the former Obama campaign staffer would go head-to-head on a regular basis, or whether they would be part of a rotating cast of co-hosts," but the damage is pretty much done.
Yes, I too have noticed that Byers' scoop basically implies that CNN is attempting to make a media star of the guy who is best known for jumping down the throat of their own John King. This is about the level of self-respect that CNN has these days.
Elsewhere, BuzzFeed's Evan McMorris-Santoro asks after the best possible Crossfire drinking game. The answer is obviously, "drink to blackouts while watching Crossfire."
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