My mother always said, “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you what you are.” I’m beginning to see what CNN is. The network that touted 24-hour news seems to have become nothing more than an entertainment vehicle hungry for viewers and, thus, ad dollars. Last Friday, Kathleen Parker, co-host of Parker Spitzer, announced that the show was her last. The low ratings apparently have been attributed to her. According to the Daily Beast, plans to cut her from the show had been brewing for several weeks.
I’m not at all sure how Parker Spitzer even passed the smell test, but in October of last year, the program was pitted against Fox News’ wildly popular The O’Reilly Factor. It could have worked, perhaps, but Spitzer and Parker did not mesh. I can only wonder if Kathleen Parker, a Pulitzer and H.L. Mencken award winner was thinking what all the women in viewing land were thinking, “How does a man who disgraced his wife, state and constituents as a patron of prostitutes get pulled from the slimy gutter, cleaned off, propped up and get his own show WITH his name.” Whomever chose the title no doubt did so HOPING to draw in viewers precisely based on Sptizer’s infamous downfall. Now that Parker has left, it’s interesting to note that the new title is In the Arena.
Amy Siskind, president and co-founder of The New Agenda, blamed good old-fashioned sexism in her Huffington-Post piece, Did Sexism Fell Kathleen Parker? Siskind notes the “coded language” coming from under rocks at CNN, whispered ever so audibly to paint Parker as just another emotional woman prone to PMS-like fits. I worked at Turner in the eighties and I’m pretty sure that Ted Turner is turning over in his billions watching CNN’s once shining light diminish into sparks. I mean who gives Spitzer a show? Who turns over their brand, their positioning, their reputation to someone who has show little respect for his family or his previous job.
In a December New York Times article, Parker and Switzer commented on possible tensions on the show.
PARKER: “That’s how human beings are made.”
SPITZER: “I’ve seen tension in my life — conflict, tension, acrimony — and I haven’t seen anything here that comes close to what I’ve seen.”
Notice the glaring personalities. Spitzer (me, me, me and BTW all that acrimony, tension and conflict was manifested by you), Parker (a work in progress).
In the Daily Beast article, the first attempts revive the show included lightening Parker’s hair. Parker wanted to offer better stories.
Parker shouldn’t feel bad. Siskind noted that over the past year, SEVEN anchors have left – Betty Nguyen, Campbell Brown, Christiane Amanpour, Erica Hill, Gerri Willis, Larry King and Lou Dobbs – FIVE WERE WOMEN!
In the same New York Times story, it takes on Parker’s alleged fits, “The New York Post said Ms. Parker had stormed off the set in early November.”
Her response was a simple, “I don’t storm. I saunter.”
I can only conclude that Parker is thrilled to have sauntered away from Spitzer’s side, but it doesn’t change CNN’s culture, a culture that believes Spitzer can carry the show alone in coveted time slot that is typically reserved for anchors that can bring in the viewers and convince them to stay for the entire primetime.
If In the Arena falls short, what then? A new show? Perhaps, but based on CNN’s track record, I’m pretty sure I know where Charlie Sheen is going to end up.