'Crossfire' returns to CNN this fall

By Kristen Butler, UPI.com  |  June 26, 2013 at 10:48 AM
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Rumors have swirled, but the new iteration of the long-running debate program "Crossfire" is confirmed to be returning to CNN this fall with Newt Gingrich and S.E. Cupp representing the right and Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones representing the left.

"Few programs in the history of CNN have had the kind of impact on political discourse that Crossfire did -- it was a terrific program then, and we believe the time is right to bring it back and do it again," Jeff Zucker, president, CNN Worldwide said in a statement.

The show previously ran from 1982 to 2005, and began with Pat Buchanan representing conservatives and journalist Thomas Braden representing liberals on a radio program before CNN picked them up and eventually moved the popular program to prime time.

Buchanan left for the last time in 1999, and facing increasing competition from "Hannity and Colmes" on Fox News and "Hardball" on MSNBC, Tucker Carlson joined the program in the conservative seat in 2001.

In 2002 "Crossfire" was increased to an hour and presented live from George Washington University in front of a studio audience. The format backfired and CNN reduced the show to a half hour and moved it to an afternoon slot.

In October 2004, Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," famously appeared on the program and said "Crossfire" failed its responsibility to public discourse and engaged in "partisan hackery" by presenting both extremes of the political spectrum. "It's hurting America," Stewart said.

The comedian's appearance on the program boosted ratings by a third, and the 14-minute clip immediately went viral on the internet. Two months later CNN cancelled "Crossfire."

This will be the first regular television gig for Gingrich since Fox News ended his contributor contract in 2011. S.E. Cupp is finishing her final week on "The Cycle" at MSNBC.

"We look forward to the opportunity to host passionate conversation from all sides of the political spectrum. "Crossfire" will be the forum where America holds its great debates," Zucker said. It was also announced the hosts would contribute to CNN's political and elections coverage.

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