“Crossfire,” the CNN debate show that has called the “hottest school for political junkies” home for three years, will go off the air within two months, a producer said.
From that point on, the debate program will exist as a segment within “Inside Politics,” which is expected to come to GW.
“‘Crossfire’ will continue from GW for the next month or two while we develop a new ‘Inside Politics’ with a ‘Crossfire’ program that we hope to bring to GW,” senior executive producer Sam Feist announced in By George! magazine, a publication produced by the University. Feist did not return messages and e-mails from The Hatchet over the last two weeks.
Michael Freedman, GW’s vice president of communications, told The Hatchet that the show might continue broadcasting from the Jack Morton Auditorium through the end of the semester. Freedman also said that guests have reserved 2,500 seats for future shows.
CNN’s president, Jonathan Klein, said he cancelled the show because he wanted the network to focus more on journalism, news and powerful storytelling rather than on talk. Mark Feldstein, director of GW’s journalism program, said he was glad Klein was steering the network back toward its roots in news.
“CNN made its name doing straight news internationally and domestically, and I think if they stick with that, their ratings will go up,” said Feldstein, a former CNN employee who wrote a letter to The New York Times expressing his views. “That’s what they’re known for.”
“60 Minutes” correspondent Andy Rooney, who will headline the University’s May Commencement ceremony, said he will not miss the show,
“I was not a big fan of ‘Crossfire.’ I thought they did much more yelling than talking and didn’t resolve any issues,” he said in an interview with The Hatchet earlier this month.
Freedman said “Crossfire” has become the latest victim of a media “feeding frenzy” in which dozens of pundits have attacked the show.
“Right now (‘Crossfire’) appears to be everyone’s favorite punching bag,” Freedman, a former CBS radio executive, said.
Tracy Schario, GW’s director of media relations, wrote in an e-mail last month that students would be able to volunteer and intern with “Inside Politics” if the show moves to GW as planned. During its three years at GW, “Crossfire” played host to 175 volunteers, who handled the logistics of hosting an audience, and interns.
“I think the ‘Crossfire’ staff … is reaching out to all of us and telling us that ‘Crossfire’ may be ending, but we want you to be a part of (‘Inside Politics’),” said Chris Kline, a volunteer who helped with ticketing, ushering and security.
While the students who worked at “Crossfire” said they are sad to see the show leave, they were quick to point at they look forward to the addition of “Inside Politics.”
“It’s been around for a long, long time, so I was kind of upset,” said junior Lizzie Turkevich, a journalism major who began volunteering for “Crossfire” in summer 2003. “But I am excited to have ‘Inside Politics’ coming here, and I think it’s going to be a great change.”
Turkevich said the ability to be a part of a major live television show was one of the reasons she came to GW.
“I am excited they’re keeping the CNN relationship because it was a good draw for me to come to GW, to see behind the scenes of how the show works,” she said.
Kline said it was difficult to hear some of the negative comments about “Crossfire” in the media during the days after its cancellation.
He said, “It’s always hard to see in the press that the show you worked on is being cancelled, especially when so much of the press was negative.”
Steve Livingston, interim director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, said that while the media has attacked “Crossfire,” not all of the criticism is warranted.
“(‘Crossfire’) got people’s blood running and boiling sometimes,” Livingston said. “That can be a good thing because there’s a connection between thought and emotion. Even if you’re not likely to learn a lot of substantive things, you’ll turn to places that will tell you more.”
-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the January 31, 2005 issue of the Hatchet.