Columnist Kathleen Parker leaving CNN's Parker/Spitzer, new format to include ex-Fox anchor E.D. "fist jab" Hill
CNN has announced that newspaper columnist Kathleen Parker is leaving it's 8 p.m. show Parker/Spitzer, retitling the show "In the Arena" and casting it as an ensemble show featuring former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and other contributors.
But in a move that shows the newschannel is still capable of odd talent choices, one of the contributors joining the show is former Fox News Channel anchor E.D. Hill, who left that outlet shortly after asking if a fist bump between Barack and Michelle Obama could be considered a "terrorist fist jab."
From the moment Parker and Spitzer appeared together on camera, critics carped about their lack of chemistry and Parker's obvious lack of experience as a TV personality. News leaked that the syndicated columnist was angry over how much of the show was focused on Spitzer -- even though it was clear to industry observers that Parker was brought on to try and soften criticism over hiring the former politician, who left office after admitting he'd spent thousands on prostitutes.
Last month, The New York Post ran an article saying Parker would be gone soon; blood in the water to media reporters. By 2:30 p.m. today, CNN had issued a press release confirming that Parker was leaving, casting the departure as her choice.
As my pal Mark Joyella at Mediaite noted, Parker's statement doesn't even mention her co-host, leaving little doubt where the pressure points fell here: "After bringing viewers a new 8pm show on CNN, I have decided to return to a schedule that will allow me to focus more on my syndicated newspaper column and other writings. While I am extremely proud of the show we created, and the subject matter and level of discourse Parker Spitzer promoted every night, it was a difficult decision to scale back my column a few months ago and, with the show going in a new direction, it is a good time to move on. I want to thank the viewers who have been so kind with their comments and support. I will continue to appear to contribute and analyze occasionally on CNN and look forward to continuing my relationship with CNN and the many talented individuals I have worked with here."
In TV news circles, it's been thought that Spitzer is a talented personality with potential, hampered only by his lack of experience and awful personal history. CNN's move to pair him with someone even less experienced may have helped him dominate their 8 p.m. show, but it also kept him from being bolstered by a more experienced broadcaster.
Now CNN is essentially building the show around Spitzer without saying they're doing it. Seems to me that will be a tough sell in a cable news environment where single hosts with strong brand appeal tend to do best.
Click belwo to see CNN's memo and Spitzer's obligatory nod to the woman he vanquished:
Ken Jautz, president, CNN/U.S.:
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 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.
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.