Awww … CNN’s kinder, gentler ‘Crossfire’ will look for ceasefire

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NEW YORK — After the crossfire, CNN’s new debating crew plans a “Ceasefire.”

The network is resurrecting its old “Crossfire” political debate show starting Monday. CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist said Friday that toward the end of every show, combatants will search for ways they can find common ground on an issue in a segment called “Ceasefire.”

The long-running “Crossfire” has been off the air since 2005, in part driven away because of ridicule by Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart. The new version will have Newt Gingrich, S.E. Cupp, Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones as rotating hosts, debating one issue per night on the 30-minute show.

Mr. Feist said the show will not be taped before a live audience, as it was in its final incarnation. This should add to the depth of the conversations and offer less temptation for debaters to go after cheap applause lines, he said.

“If we degenerate into shouting and yelling at each other, then we will have failed the country,” said Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, who will argue the conservative view along with Ms. Cupp.

While political arguments aren’t exactly foreign to cable news, the “Crossfire” team suggested their show would stand out because it’s an unscripted attempt to fairly present two sides of an issue. With Fox News Channel appealing primarily to conservatives and MSNBC to liberals, much of the content on those networks is designed to satisfy the base, said Ms. Cupp, a former MSNBC commentator. Most of the debates are not fair fights, she said.

Viewers “are tired of cheap debates but they are hungry for deep debates,” said Mr. Jones, a former Obama administration official who will take the liberal side with Ms. Cutter, who worked in President Obama’s campaign.

They’ve been practicing this week and Mr. Gingrich said learning the nuances of cutting short discussions and taking commercial breaks has been tougher than he thought; it wasn’t something he had to worry about as an interview guest.

The show airs at 6:30 p.m.

 

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