Looks like Daily Show host Jon Stewart picked a bad time to take a break from his show.
CNN announced Wednesday it would revive Crossfire, the debate show it canceled in 2005, not long after Stewart confronted its hosts on camera for "hurting America" by presenting "partisan hackery" as honest debate.
Scheduled to return in the fall, the new program will likely air in half-hour episodes, without a live audience, covering one topic per show.
As in the past, hosts are divided by political ideology, with former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, above, and conservative columnist S.E. Cupp on the right and former Obama official Van Jones and ex-Obama campaign aide Stephanie Cutter on the left.
San Feist, the channel's senior vice president of programming and Washington bureau chief, said CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker talked about reviving the show from the moment he arrived at the cable channel in January.
"He grew up watching Crossfire. … It's a show he always felt was valuable and useful and important and I think he wondered why it wasn't on the air," said Feist, describing Zucker.
Stewart, who has taken the summer off from the Daily Show to direct a movie, told the Tampa Bay Times in 2007 he didn't think CNN canceled the show because of his words. "I don't think it was any larger message CNN was sending," he said, noting the channel still aired debates divided by party lines in smaller segments.
Feist said a lack of a studio audience and single topic would improve the program.
"Sometimes the guests and even the hosts focus on the audience reaction sometimes more than they focus on the quality of the debate," Feist said, noting that CNN's refusal to champion a political side may help distinguish the show. "It's a discussion that is hard to hold on MSNBC and Fox because those networks are admittedly unbalanced."