CNN’s not unexpected announcement that former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, and conservative columnist Kathleen Parker will team up for a point-counterpoint primetime program lets CNN hold fast to its bipartisan mantra while also injecting a much needed dose of personality into its primetime.
Spitzer comes to the network with considerable name recognition thanks to his political career - and the ignominious end of his political career in a prostitution scandal.
Parker, who has built a distinguished career in the unglamorous print world, does not have the name recognition (or infamy) of Spitzer. But she’s an intuitive fit for CNN. She’s intellectual, incisive, wry. She’s no foaming-at-the-mouth pundit; a breed that has become all too familiar to cable news viewers. In short, she just may be the perfect foil for Spitzer.
It will take some time to build chemistry. And there will be inevitable comparisons drawn between Spitzer and Parker and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of Morning Joe.
But Parker and Spitzer, who has been a not infrequent presence on MSNBC during his rehabilitation sojourn, just may give CNN what it needs in primetime: an identity.
And by hiring them to co-anchor at 8 p.m., CNN seems to be conceding that it’s time to finally acknowledge that it can still be a news organization while allowing a little opinion (albeit carefully balanced) into the primetime hours. Now if they could just figure out the 9 p.m. hour.