The Campaign Spot

Imagining if Eliot Spitzer Met His Match . . .

I hadn’t planned on posting this bit from the Jolt, but apparently a lot of readers found the imagined exchange hysterical:

They’ve Got Spitzer, They’ve Got Parker, But They Don’t Have Watchers 

Do you mind if I do a bit on the train wreck that is CNN’s Spitzer/Parker show?

Thursday nights, before I appear on his satellite-radio program, Cam and I toss around ideas for a television program, tweaking and refining and arguing about what the media landscape needs. Sometimes I think we’ve got an idea that could take off; sometimes I think we’re aspiring to the impossible. Never mind figuring out the public’s tastes; the tastes of those who program television news seem increasingly incomprehensible.

Few things are quite as depressing as this little nugget in that New York magazine piece about the state of the television-news industry: “In June, he announced that he would hire the famously black-socked and disgraced former governor Eliot Spitzer. [CNN head Jonathan] Klein faced stiff internal resistance to hiring Spitzer. When one CNN executive expressed to Klein the concern that viewers risked being turned off by Spitzer’s hooker scandal, Klein had snapped, ‘I don’t give a [f-word].’”

They were warned. They were warned that it wasn’t merely diehard Republicans whose skin crawled at the thought of Spitzer; this is the guy whose fall from grace was so epic and so laced with Shakespearean comeuppance that it inspired Juliana Margulies’s new program. They were warned, and they didn’t care. Their job is to attract viewers; they’re told, directly, that their prospective new host is the most hated man this side of the guy who cheated on Sandra Bullock, and they didn’t care. What, the Salahis were booked?

These networks are getting the tar beaten out of them by Fox News, year after year, and apparently they have never considered emulating the frontrunner. It’s as if they’re open to every programming option except putting on a few more conservative voices. MSNBC gave Jesse Ventura a show. (One minute exception: The network’s rare efforts to feature conservative voices have tended to pick the most outlandish and hyperbolic personalities they could find: Michael Savage and Alan Keyes.)

Spitzer’s bad enough, but they had to team him with the “conservative” who has the least street cred with conservatives. Kathleen Parker makes David Frum look like Mark Levin. Had CNN matched Spitzer with, say, Mark Steyn, at least we would have been treated to some amazing fireworks. Imagine:

Spitzer: . . . and that’s why I think Obama’s financial-reform proposal is a winner. Mark, what do you think?

Steyn: You treacherous, reptilian whoremonger, your foul diatribe spurs me to inch my chair further away from you, as I expect any moment now you will vomit forth a lie so reprehensible and toxic to the very metaphysical concept of Truth that God Himself will be moved to strike you with lightning.

Mediaite offers the network the bad and oh-so-predictable news: “CNN’s prime time ratings woes are only increasing with new program Parker Spitzer. Monday night was the lowest weekday prime time rating average in more than 10 years, since June 28, 2000. And it wasn’t just the 8pmET that was seeing low ratings.” It’s the XFL of television news.


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