Though vicariously, GW made the political talk show rounds Sunday when a mini-controversy surrounding CNN’s “Crossfire” – which broadcasts daily from the Jack Morton Auditorium in the Media and Public Affairs Building – began circulating. Republicans have raised concern that Paul Begala and James Carville, the liberal two of the program’s four hosts, are permitted to remain on the show despite their status as informal advisors to the Kerry campaign. While this might be a valid concern for CNN, a much bigger issue of is how the quality of Crossfire has seriously eroded since its relocation to the GW campus.
Prior to coming to GW, “Crossfire” exemplified quality journalism and civil debate. Though half of the hosts remained, the show’s relocation to GW can be associated with substantially negative changes to the program. Its once civil and academic debates have given way to a circus atmosphere featuring negative attacks, yelling and baseless accusations – the antithesis of good broadcast journalism.
So long as the show begins with “live from the George Washington University,” the University probably does not care about the quality of the program, but many students do. While most students attend the show at some point just to see a live television show come together, few are drawn back by the quality of what they see and hear.
Coming to a University, “Crossfire” should have taken the opportunity provided by its new setting to engage in intelligent and dignified debate. Instead, the show is merely perpetuating the nation’s trend toward political and cultural polarization. CNN, the University, students that attend the tapings and viewers across the country would be better served by a return to serious and comprehensive debate.