Kathleen Parker is leaving her spot as co-host of Parker/Spitzer, CNN EVP Ken Jautz announced Friday.
Parker/Spitzer will be re-formatted to an ensemble format with several guests and contributors, including E.D. Hill and Will Cain, joining remaining host Eliot Spitzer each night. The new 8 p.m. show will be re-named In the Arena beginning Monday.
Jautz said in a statement that Parker "decided to leave the program to focus on her writing," but the move was not unexpected, as reports had swirled about a possible shake-up as many critics believed Parker was a weak link on the show. Parker/Spitzer had closed the gap between its 8 p.m. MSNBC competition after the departure of Keith Olbermann (the margin was 53% in the adults 25-54 demo during the fourth quarter vs. Countdown compared to 17% vs. Lawrence O'Donnell currently) but it was not enough to save the program in its present format.
"[T]he new program will look beyond the headlines to analyze and discuss the most important stories of the day," said Jautz in a memo to staff. "The program will provide context and analysis through balanced and thoughtful discussions and interviews with a wide range of guests and newsmakers who cumulatively represent various points of view."
Jautz said Parker would continue to appear on CNN occasionally.
Jautz's full memo below:
I want to share with you some news today regarding our 8pm show. Kathleen Parker has decided to leave the program to focus on her writing, and we have decided to take the show in a new direction. We will be adopting an ensemble format with several newsmakers, guests and contributors joining Eliot Spitzer each night. The new program will be called, "In the Arena," beginning Monday. E.D. Hill and Will Cain will join the program as well others within and outside the CNN family.
We have been pleased with how the 8pm hour has become a centerpiece of substantive, policy-oriented conversation, and we are looking forward to building on that with this new format. Simply put, the new program will look beyond the headlines to analyze and discuss the most important stories of the day. The program will providecontext and analysis through balanced and thoughtful discussions and interviews with a wide range of guests and newsmakers who cumulatively represent various points of view.
Kathleen will continue to appear on CNN occasionally to provide her insights and commentary. We thank Kathleen for her hard work and all that she has done to help us launch our new 8pm program. We respect her as a colleague and appreciate her perspective and contributions.