Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I miss "Crossfire"

Like most people, I've been thinking about Juan Williams.

Perhaps unlike most people, when I think of Juan Williams I think of "Crossfire" (the old CNN debate show).  When I was in high school, I watched that show every day.  I loved watching the sinister Pat Buchanan go up against the earnest Michael Kinsley.  It was in his role as Michael Kinsley's understudy that I first became aware of Juan Williams.  Let's put it this way:  Juan Williams was no Michael Kinsley.

I stopped watching "Crossfire" in about 1995, around the time Buchanan rejoined his Pitchfork Brigade for another run at the presidency.  The show started to change.  Buchanan and Kinsley were gone, and so was the sober black background.  A studio audience was brought in.  Tucker Carlson.  Paul Begala.

This brings me to another man in the news:  Jon Stewart.  Famously, he killed "Crossfire."  He indicted the show for "hurting America" and accused its hosts (Carlson and Begala) of "partisan hackery."  In my view, the charges were shrill and trumped up.  But apparently they touched a nerve.  Just a couple months later, "Crossfire" was cancelled.

What are we left with?  Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck; Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow.  I am pretty ignorant about these shows.  I just don't watch much cable news.  (It always seems to be focussed on some runaway bride or another.  I don't understand the appeal.)  But it does seem like there's a dearth of true left vs. right debate on the airwaves.  I know O'Reilly has people (like Juan Williams!) on to debate, and I imagine the others do too.  But these are more like ambushes than debates.

So, I miss "Crossfire."  Maybe it's a dead format that wouldn't work today.  Maybe the culture has become too fragmented, too partisan, too cynical, and too idealogical.  I dunno.  I just know I'd watch.  (On YouTube, at least.)

1 comment:

  1. I nver watched "Crossfire" so I don't miss it. I also don't miss Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala. If John Stewart got them off the air, he deserves a medal.
    As for Juan Williams, unlike most people, I have not thought about him. I was first exposed to him listening to NPR when he would somtimes substitute for Ray Suarez on "Talk of the Nation." To paraphrase you: Juan Williams was no Ray Suarez.


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