CNN has announced plans to revive “Crossfire,” the long-running political debate program that previously aired on the network from 1982 to 2005.
The new incarnation of the show will be hosted by former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and conservative commentator and MSNBC host S.E. Cupp representing the right, with former Obama campaign adviser and political consultant Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones, an environmental and civil rights activist, representing the left.
“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,” Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, said in a statement. “We look forward to the opportunity to host passionate conversation from all sides of the political spectrum. 'Crossfire' will be the forum where America holds its great debates.”
Conservative Pat Buchanan and liberal Tom Braden originally hosted “Crossfire” when it debuted on CNN back in 1982. Other hosts over the years included Robert Novak, Tucker Carlson, John Sununu, James Carville and Paul Begala. The pundits on either side would debate the hot-button issues of the day, and the show featured a wide spectrum of guests from politics, business, entertainment, technology and more.
Fans will remember Jon Stewart’s infamous appearance from Oct. 15, 2004, when the "Daily Show" host criticized the program for promoting partisan divisiveness rather than any meaningful discussion. “You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably,” Stewart said. He also felt that the show was “hurting America.” Footage of the incident was seen all over the news that day and quickly went viral on the Internet.
As Variety points out, the revival of “Crossfire” comes as CNN attempts to revive its sagging prime-time ratings in the face of expanding competition. In November 2012, the network hired former NBC Universal boss Zucker as president of CNN Worldwide. He proceeded to bring in new personnel and oversee a slew of new programming on the network.
“Following the successful launches of 'Around the World,' 'The Lead with Jake Tapper' and 'New Day,' we felt it was the right time to turn our attention next to 'Crossfire,'” said Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN. “This will be the next step in reinvigorating our lineup of live programs.”
“Crossfire” is set to premiere this fall.