Parker/Spitzer struggles through good intentions and weird moments
CNN's debut of its latest prime-time news magazine show, with Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker, was very earnest about trying to be serious and bipartisan. But it hit some jarring notes.
(Page 2 of 2)
That was uncomfortable enough, but in the final segment a roundtable of more talking heads answered three Jay Leno-style questions, the last of which was, "What is your favorite guilty pleasure?"Skip to next paragraph
Barbara Walters scoop: Herman Cain wants to be SecDef!
Sarah Palin speaks, but are Americans heeding her anymore?
Stephen Colbert almost bought naming rights to South Carolina GOP primary
Digging for political dirt? Twitter could be the source for you.
After his debate gaffe, Rick Perry goes into full spin mode
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Ummm. For the record, your honor, (and for those who don’t quite remember what brought Spitzer down,) he resigned after admitting to consorting with prostitutes.
Kathleen Parker niftily took that question for the former prosecutor. His fave? NASCAR, in case you wondered.
Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University in New York, says the biggest problem with all this isn’t that it was too earnest or even too weird, it’s that the overall show just wasn’t very good.
Mr. Thompson applauds the show’s stab at bipartisanship, bringing in two intelligent people from different ends of the political spectrum to thoughtfully dissect the news. But, he says, “there is nothing that says this can’t be really good entertainment at the same time as it upholds good, old-fashioned journalistic values,” which, he adds, CNN has had a history of maintaining. Thompson says Spitzer, the politician of the two, needs to talk less and listen more, and programmers should rely less on gimmicks.
The effort is reminiscent of Katie Couric’s arrival at the helm of the "CBS Evening News," adds Mr. Thompson, when the former NBC morning host tried a passle of half-baked ideas out on the audience, including a cutesy invitation to viewers to help her devise the perfect sign-off for the show. Eventually, he says, the show settled into a program very much like the other two evening news broadcasts.
Between NBC, CBS and ABC, those shows still draw respectable audiences, around 15 million nightly, versus the much smaller numbers of the primetime cable news magazine shows. And CBS’ venerable news magazine program, “60 Minutes,” still ranks high in the ratings, even after decades on the air.
“That show understands that solid news reporting about important issues can be great entertainment,” he points out. In this transitional era from legacy broadcasting to new media such as the Internet and mobile phones, he adds, programmers who remember these lessons are the ones that will survive.