More names are surfacing for what could be a summer revival of CNN’s Crossfire – the right-left gabfest that was yanked in 2005 after pointed criticism from Jon Stewart.
Oft-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and Obama administration adviser Stephanie Cutter are among those the network is looking at as potential candidates. Politico first reported the news Tuesday. And sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker is looking for a mix of seasoned politicos and younger voices. A CNN spokesperson declined comment.
Kevin Madden is also among the political pundits that CNN is eyeing for a role on what could be a rotating panel, according to sources. Madden served as Mitt Romney’s adviser during Romney’s 2008 and 2012 runs for president and has been a frequent cable news talking head throughout, appearing on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Bloomberg. He is executive vp of public affairs at the Washington, D.C.-based strategic communications firm JDA Frontline. Madden not not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
As President Barack Obama’s deputy campaign manager for last year’s re-election campaign, Cutter regularly made the rounds on political talk shows including ABC’s This Week and CBS’ Face the Nation and on various CNN programs. She was also the architect of the Obama campaign’s tongue-in-cheek Big Bird blitz after Romney promised to zero out federal funding for PBS and its children’s program Sesame Street.
And Gingrich has been without a regular TV perch since Fox News pulled his contributor contract -- worth close to $1 million annually -- in 2011, when he signaled his intent to run for president. Since last year's election he has surfaced on CNN, including during the network's State of the Union coverage last January.
Crossfire – which premiered on CNN in 1982 – came to epitomize the deafening shout fests that represented everything that ailed cable news. In the fall of 2004 during an appearance on show to promote his book America (The Book), Stewart famously told then co-hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala that Crossfire was “hurting America.” By January 2005, CNN executives had yanked the show. Of course, these days Washington infighting is far more vitriolic than anything currently found on cable news.
As Zucker sets about revitalizing the news channel, he has said his mandate is to broaden the network’s programming without sacrificing its journalistic credentials. He has already experimented – and abandoned – a primetime discussion program (Get to) The Point, which was hosted by Donny Deutsch and served as a one-week experiment earlier this month in the 10 p.m. slot occupied by a rebroadcast of Anderson Cooper 360. The show featured Deutsch chewing over the day’s news with ESPN’s Rick Reilly and Jason Taylor and conservative author and Bush administration veteran Margaret Hoover.