June 26th, 2013
09:11 AM ET
5 years ago

‘Crossfire’ coming back to CNN

Washington (CNN) – An institution is coming back to CNN.

“Crossfire,” the long-running political debate show that aired on CNN from 1982-2005, is getting a reboot, the news network announced Wednesday. Four new hosts – two on the left, and two on the right - will debut the program this fall.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who made a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, will host on the right alongside S.E. Cupp, the conservative columnist who currently co-anchors “The Cycle,” a television program on MSNBC.

On the left, President Barack Obama’s former deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter will host next to Van Jones, another former Obama adviser who later founded Rebuild the Dream, a group that fosters innovative economic policy.

The foursome will also appear on CNN during special coverage of political events and elections.

Debuting two years after the founding of CNN, “Crossfire” was originally hosted by conservative Pat Buchanan and liberal Tom Braden. Later its hosts included Robert Novak, Tucker Carlson, James Carville, Paul Begala and Bill Press. Also joining the list of notable co-hosts were former New Hampshire Gov, John Sununu, Michael Kinsley, Republican strategist Mary Matalin, and 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. The nation’s top political figures were guests on the show, as were a slate of preeminent entertainers, sports stars and business leaders.

“Few programs in the history of CNN have had the kind of impact on political discourse that Crossfire did – it was a terrific program then, and we believe the time is right to bring it back and do it again,” Jeff Zucker, CNN Worldwide’s president, said Wednesday. “We look forward to the opportunity to host passionate conversation from all sides of the political spectrum. Crossfire will be the forum where America holds its great debates.”

During its more than twenty year run, “Crossfire” became must-see-T.V. for politicians and political observers alike. In 1997 – during Gingrich’s own tenure as House speaker – President Bill Clinton joked about the program’s longevity during his speech to that year’s White House Correspondents Association dinner.

Clinton remarked the first episode was hosted “From the left, Alexander Hamilton, from the right, Aaron Burr. Topic - gun control.”

Wednesday’s announcement comes after a slate of new programming for CNN, including a recently launched morning show “New Day,” and the afternoon, Washington-based program “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

After getting those shows off the ground, “We felt it was the right time to turn our attention next to Crossfire,” said Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN. “This will be the next step in reinvigorating our lineup of live programs.”

Filed under: CNN • Crossfire
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. Mark

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I loved the concept of Crossfire: healthy, lively debate is good.

    June 26, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  2. jerrydep

    My goodness! Could CNN have found more polarizing participants for this show?? Gingrich is unpopular with Republicans AND Democrats, Cutter does nothing but preach liberal, devisive campaign rhetoric, and Van Jones has no credibilty due to his shady past combined with baseless conspiracy theories. CNN"s continued dismal ratings are not because of the programming, but because of the horrible casting decisions.

    June 26, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. ricardo1968

    I think that crossfire created more divisiveness and incivility than actual honest debate. You have this format of people who are paid to disagree with each other come hell or high water. You will never find truth in an environment where consensus is structurally impossible.

    June 26, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  4. Tommy

    I can't imagine anything more tedious.

    June 26, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. JC

    It's a good thing for CNN that Jon Stewart is on vacation. He ripped it apart so badly in 2004, CNN canceled it.

    June 26, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. Jerrold E. Fink

    A far better set of panel members would be Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtin. If CNN stays with its proposed lineup, it should also add a "Neutral", Emily Litella to provide a serious counterpoint and interpretation to the gas these panel members will create.

    June 26, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Christopher Hamilton

    I can't wait for Jon Stewart to crush this reboot again. It died for a reason. We don't need this zombie to come back. I hope it dies for good very quickly.

    June 26, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. NYVeteran

    They left out Michael Kinsley who was the best on the left. Great show and look forward to its return!

    June 26, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. scaredofpandas

    I think Chris Hayes and S.E. Cupp would be two smart people from opposite sides who are civil and insightful – Van Jones, Stephanie Cutter, and Newt-freakin-Gingrich are NOT good choices!

    June 26, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Doug

    Give John Stewart about a month to observe the new crossfire and then lets see what he thinks about. John Stewart on Crossfire is epic tv. watch?v=aFQFB5YpDZE

    June 26, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. raddchad

    No mention of the show's demise by Jon Stewart, come on CNN, not mentioning the original shows reason for quitting, kind of proves Stewart is right about CNN's problems.

    June 26, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. TorontoR

    Just don't book Jon Stewart on the show early on, he may torpedo the show and cause it to be cancelled like last time. If you don't believe me, youtube "Jon Stewart Crossfire."

    June 26, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. John in AZ

    No mention of how it was taken down by Jon Stewart for its vitriol and partisan hackery? Slimy Jeff Zucker ruined NBC, and now he will tackle what is left of CNN.

    June 26, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. MartyGRMI

    Will they invite Jon Stewart to the show?

    June 26, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. George

    I had wondered if Crossfire might be revived since watching MSNBC and Fox News has become almost boring because one knows in advance almost exactly what each will present, and CNN, with its declining ratings, had the chance to provide a fresh alternative. If the participants are not the right ones at first, surely CNN will take note, and also try to keep debates civil.

    June 26, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. Rakshak

    Bring back Jon Stewart!!!!

    June 26, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  17. imhem

    it's always good for America when the media shackles are broken and conservatives are actually allowed to bring forth facts rather than liberal "feelings".

    June 26, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. jamesfoley

    Instead of well known popular political figures for crossfire, just pull two random, willing schmoes off the street and give them an hour of time. You'd fair better, especially in this age of reality tv. Give 'em a free lunch and a chance to talk with informed news people, you'd be doing them and us a favor.

    June 26, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. Juan Mario

    Awful. Stewart needs to get back on this show and shut it down (Google Jon Stewart for a good laugh). Way to add to the uncivili discourse in this country!

    June 26, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. Miguel

    That's right! Michael Kingsley is the first name that came to mind when I read this article. Why would he not be mentioned?

    June 26, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Dee

    I use to watch CNN all the time as did some of my friends we are disappointed because there is not enough diversity take a look at MSNBC. Your people of color always work on the weekend and we think Soledad was an asset to your network also Donna Brazille.

    I also feel you need to reach out to younger reports of all diversities and maybe just maybe your ratings will return with more viewers.

    This is my Opinion

    June 26, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. Nancy Pants

    CNN has a TV station? I thought is was a website. Oh well, guess I'll try and find it on my cable be S.E. Cupp is totally hot.

    June 26, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. Monza79

    Super... Ugh.

    June 26, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. Joe

    Another show where 4 people shout at each other with no information or facts being presented. You can find this in any bar across America and the arguments presented will be just as valid. At least in the bar, somebody will buy you a beer.

    June 26, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. RF

    Pretty sure they're not gonna have Jon Stewart back on as a guest this time around...

    June 26, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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