CNN announced the departure of Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist Kathleen Parker from the network, leaving former New York governor Eliot Spitzer to host a new show dubbed “In the Arena.”
“We will be adopting an ensemble format with several newsmakers, guests and contributors joining Eliot Spitzer each night,” CNN Executive Vice President Ken Jautz wrote to staff today.
The original show “Parker Spitzer,” which debuted last October at 8 p.m., was supposed to be a daily debate hashing issues in a substantive, analytical manner with Parker leaning right and Spitzer leaning left. Ratings, however, remained relatively anemic.
Last week, the show drew about 500,000 viewers a night, according to Nielsen ratings. That’s about half of what Lawrence O’Donnell pulled in at MSNBC and one-sixth the numbers Bill O’Reilly received on Fox News.
“Parker’s a very talented writer, but I don’t think anyone had a whole lot of specific praise for her on air,” said former CNN anchor Bobbie Battista. Parker and Spitzer “didn’t gel well at all.”
In December, the New York Times reported that there were tensions between Spitzer and Parker that fueled speculation that Spitzer would eventually go solo.
According to the New York Post, Spitzer felt he excelled when she was out sick and he hosted alone during the recent Egypt crisis.
In a statement, Parker said, “It was a difficult decision to scale back my column a few months ago and with the show going in a new direction, it is a good time to move on.” Spitzer also released a statement saying it was “a joy working with her as a teammate.” She plans to appear on CNN in the future as an occasional contributor.
By Rodney Ho, email@example.com, AJCRadioTV blog