New CNN Prez Puts Crossfire Out of Misery

With a bitch-slap for Tucker on the way out the door, too:

CNN has ended its relationship with the conservative commentator Tucker Carlson and will shortly cancel its long-running daily political discussion program, “Crossfire,” the new president of CNN, Jonathan Klein, said last night…
Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at “Crossfire” when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were “hurting America.”
Mr. Klein said last night, “I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart’s overall premise.” He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion.

Daaaaaaamn. Serious props to Jon Stewart there — how many people could lay waste to an institution like Crossfire so thoroughly that the network actually pulls the plug?



January 6, 2005
3:31 pm

What annoys me about this is that Jon Stewart, while being funnier than Paul Begala, is doing the exact same thing. He hides behind his cutesy “I’m on a comedy show on basic cable” but that standard then equally applies to his critiques as his behavior. He uses his position to get away with the fact that he’s delivering pseudo-journalistic opinion a la Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity–or maybe a closer comparison is Don Imus.
So while I find any show that ever has James Carville on it to be useless, I’m not so sure I’d trumpet Stewart as the new arbiter of taste.
Besides, lobbing softballs at John Kerry is worse than bad journalism, it’s just not *funny*.

Jason Lefkowitz

January 6, 2005
3:39 pm

Oh come now. I’ve seen Jon Stewart challenge his guests directly — sometimes so bluntly that they are clearly uncomfortable about it.
See, as one example, this instance when Stewart challenged Congressman Henry Bonilla on his use of obviously false talking points:
Yes, he gave Kerry softballs, but come on, he was talking to a Presidential candidate. For a guy who is running a comedy talk show, his record of asking serious questions (and expecting serious answers) is actually pretty good.


January 6, 2005
4:32 pm

So he’s Paul Begala, not Tucker Carlson. Paul Begala is also not known for asking tough questions of people on his own team, but has been known to ask tough questions of Republicans. Vice Versa Tucker Carlson.
So is Jon Stewart a journalist saved by low expectations, or a comedian playing at journalism? Either way, I’m not too sure I’m interested in his “you’re bad journalists” critiques. Pot, kettle, African-American.
The sadder thing is, if you actually hear Tucker Carlson outside of the formula fight shows, he’s strikingly thoughtful for a conservative. Maybe that makes him a good journalist for a comedian or a funny comedian for a journalist, but nonetheless, he’s actually critiqued the current politicotainment industry fairly heavily himself.
Plus he wears that bow tie. Very funny for a guy on a journalism network, no?

Jason Lefkowitz

January 6, 2005
5:03 pm

You’re missing the substance of Stewart’s critique.
It’s not that Begala is insufficiently “objective” (Stewart is dismissive of the conceit of objectivity — he actually has nice things to say about Fox News, if you can believe that). It’s that Begala doesn’t hit *anybody* with hardball questions. Instead, he hits scripted talking points with scripted talking points, creating the appearance of conflict where none actually exists.
Take that interview with Rep. Bonilla. Bonilla was just parroting GOP talking points that everybody — *everybody* — who knew anything about Kerry’s and Edwards’ records knew were just wrong. I mean, 100% flat out made up. But those talking points were all over the mainstream media for days, and none of the “journalists” — who all knew — stopped the discussion and said “look, that’s a made up figure. Stop saying it.” Instead they responded with some scripted blather that avoided directly questioning the veracity of the assertion.
Why do you think so many people think that we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Or that Saddam had something to do with 9/11? It’s because you can be “interviewed” by these “journalists”, lie and insinuate, and not be called to account for it.
More explanation of how this type of thing works:
I think it’s kind of asking a lot of Jon Stewart to expect him to be the Guardian of Truth here. He signed up to do a comedy show and ended up as a kind of tribune. He doesn’t have a journalism degree, he doesn’t work for a “news organization”, he’s not a credentialed journalist. Paul Begala does work for a “news organization” and I presume that he does carry credentials, so I would expect more from him.
The fact that we’re not *getting* anything more is what has Stewart (and a lot of us) so ticked off.