Thursday, January 6, 2005

CNN Cans Carlson

From the New York Times:

CNN has ended its relationship with the conservative commentator Tucker Carlson and will shortly cancel its long-running daily political discussion program, “Crossfire,” the new president of CNN, Jonathan Klein, said last night.

Mr. Carlson said he had actually quit “Crossfire” last April and had agreed to stay on until his contract expired. He said he had a deal in place for a job as the host of a 9 p.m. nightly talk program on MSNBC, CNN’s rival.

One NBC News executive said that no deal had been completed between MSNBC and Mr. Carlson. “Tucker is a great journalist and we are exploring options with him for a 9 p.m. job,” said Jeremy Gaines, a spokesman for MSNBC.

“I don’t know what CNN is saying,” Mr. Carlson said. “But I have no dispute with CNN.”

Mr. Klein said the decisions to part company with Mr. Carlson and to end “Crossfire” were not specifically related, because he had decided to drop “Crossfire” regardless of whether Mr. Carlson wanted to stay on.

Mr. Klein said, “We just determined there was not a role here in the way Tucker wanted his career to go. He wanted to host a prime-time show in which he would put on live guests and have spirited debate. That’s not the kind of show CNN is going to be doing.”

[…]

Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at “Crossfire” when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were “hurting America.” [At which time Mr. Stewart referred to Mr. Carlson as a “dick.” – MB]

Mr. Klein said last night, “I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart’s overall premise.” He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion.

Sounds like a case of “You can’t fire me – I quit!” Whatever. Tucker Carlson has always come across as one of those snotty preppies who makes you want to just punch his lights out. (As a matter of fact, he is a member of St. George’s Class of 1987 and comes from a long line of prep-school snarkmeisters that seem to be a requirement in the halls of higher learning; Draco Malfoy, for example. Trust me, there is a version of Tucker Carlson in Bobby Cramer, and he gets his comeuppance in spades.) CNN is also recognizing that they can’t compete with the shouters and frothers at Fox, and as long as they have Robert Novak, Carlson serves only as a redundant stand-in for that dyspeptic right-wing frumphaven.

Carlson isn’t going to be hitting the unemployment line, more’s the pity. As Tim Grieve at Salon.com notes, “He still has his PBS show, and bottom-trolling MSNBC seems anxious to give him just about anything he wants. Tucker is down but not out; this is one dick we’ll still get to kick around for a long time to come.”