Staff editorial: CNN at GW

Bringing CNN’s “Crossfire” political TV talk show to the School of Media and Public Affairs’ Jack Morton Auditorium is a brilliant move on behalf of the show’s producers and University Vice President for Communications Mike Freedman. Having “Crossfire” on campus beginning April 1 Monday through Friday will furnish the University with unprecedented media coverage and name recognition.

Other universities host television shows. But few, even the New School that hosts “Inside the Actor’s Studio” on Bravo, would be as high profile as “Crossfire.” “Crossfire,” the longest-running political talk show in the country, has a large and loyal national audience with CNN. It also would bring congressional leaders, administration officials, Cabinet members and other political luminaries to campus, providing a forum through which students can ask questions of the guests on live, national TV.

The exposure would heighten interest in the University, the effects of which would translate to more student applications. More applications means the University’s Office of Admissions can be more selective. Certainly no parent at other schools can claim they dropped in to their student’s freshman orientation and saw a live taping of “Crossfire.”

Freedman is being tight-lipped about how much CNN is paying for use of the space but commented that money will feed into publicity for the show and equipment for the auditorium. Any money beyond that would be valuable to MPA students who are paying $1,000 a year for use of the building.

With the Marvin Center’s Betts Theatre and addition of the Elliott School of International Affairs auditorium next fall for student events, the opportunity cost of having “Crossfire” in the MPA auditorium on a full-time basis is minimal compared to the advantages. A few years ago, such a decision would have been rendered impossible because GW lacked the facilities.

The hour-long format airing at 7 p.m. each weeknight will feature Democratic commentators and “Crossfire” newcomers James Carville and Paul Begala, who served as high-level advisers to Bill Clinton in his successful 1992 bid for the presidency. “Crossfire” veterans Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson will represent the Republican viewpoint.

The move is an important way to indirectly help the University reach, and stay, in the top tier.

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