“Inside Politics” may replace “Crossfire” at GW

University officials said CNN is planning to broadcast “Inside Politics” at the Jack Morton Auditorium following the cancellation of “Crossfire,” which has aired live from GW since April 2002.

“This opens up more opportunities for GW students,” said Michael Freedman, GW’s vice president for Communications. “We were thrilled to have ‘Crossfire’ here for three years, and we are most pleased to be continuing (CNN’s) terrific partnership with GW.”

Freedman did not say when “Inside Politics” would begin airing from the School of Media and Public Affairs building. CNN officials, who announced the show’s cancellation earlier this month, have not said when “Crossfire” will broadcast its last show in its current format. The show’s executive producer did not return several phone calls from The Hatchet.

Failing to land another CNN show would mark the loss of a valuable recruiting tool for the University. The 2005 Kaplan/Newsweek college guide dubbed GW the “hottest school for political junkies,” partly because of its affiliation with “Crossfire.” Dozens of students volunteer and intern for the show.

“It was cool to be on the inside every day, to work with the people coordinating the whole thing and see what goes into producing a live show,” said sophomore Claudine Roshanian, who volunteered for “Crossfire” last year.

She said she was shocked that CNN cancelled the show, which has been on the air for 23 years.

“I was so upset and really surprised too, because I felt like it came out of nowhere,” Roshanian said. “It’s been on the air for so long, and it was real abrupt to yank it like that.”

“Crossfire’s” cancellation likely means the end, or at least the weakening, of its hosts’ relationship with GW. Since their arrival on campus, the hosts have spoken at events such as Freshman Convocation and staged special after-show debates and question-and-answer sessions for student groups, alumni and parents.

Jan. 6 marked conservative host Tucker Carlson’s final day on “Crossfire.” Carlson did not receive a new contract offer from CNN. He announced on the air that he is “moving to another network,” presumably MSNBC.

CNN president Jonathan Klein told The New York Times earlier this month that the decisions to let go of Carlson and cancel the show were not necessarily related.

“Crossfire” had been the subject of some criticism in recent months, most notably from comedian Jon Stewart, who blasted the show and its hosts when he was a guest in October.

“What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery,” Stewart told Carlson and liberal host Paul Begala. “You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.”

Klein told The Times he agreed with Stewart’s “overall premise” and added that the show may be continued as an occasional segment on other programs. CNN’s decision to axe the program was met with approval from many critics and news organizations. In an editorial, The Times likened heated debate programs such as “Crossfire” to the “pregame show for professional wrestling.”

Professor Mark Feldstein, who heads GW’s journalism department, gave “kudos” to The Times for its commentary in a letter to the editor published Saturday.

“As a onetime CNN correspondent, I am delighted that its new president seems to be embarking on a radical notion: returning the network to its roots by actually covering the news,” Feldstein wrote. “Journalistic dumbing down comes at a price – not just CNN’s lower ratings, but more important, the cheapening of public discourse.”

Carlson said on his final show that “Crossfire” will “assume a new format and possibly a new time.” He praised the staff and crew of the show and said he enjoyed his time with the program.

“I literally have not been bored a single day,” Carlson said.

Tracy Schario, GW’s director of media relations, said “Crossfire” would remain in its current form until further notice.

“Planning for the revised format of ‘Crossfire’ and (‘Inside Politics’) is in process,” Schario said. “We don’t have a timeline. Mike (Freedman) remains in communication with CNN as the new program takes shape.”

Students who felt the show did not delve deep enough into important issues should be pleased with “Inside Politics,” Freedman said. The weekday show, hosted by Judy Woodruff, airs from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

“Crossfire,” which is broadcast from GW five times a week, has called the Jack Morton Auditorium home since April 2002. At that time, the show aired from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. But in April 2003, it was shortened to a half-hour broadcast, and the show lost its evening slot.

The program averaged 447,000 viewers daily this season – 21 percent less than last year.

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