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Newt Gingrich joins CNN revival of 'Crossfire'

Newt Gingrich had an affair with Senate staffer

Newt Gingrich had an affair with Senate staffer Callista Bisek in the 1990s. He left his wife and married her. (April 19, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

As expected, CNN will revive "Crossfire" this fall; not quite as expected: Newt Gingrich will be one of the co-hosts.

The network announced this morning that it would relaunch the revival with a four-person format, with Gingrich and MSNBC contributor S.E. Cupp as his co-rightie; and Stephanie Cutter, a political consultant, with Van Jones, a founder of Rebuild the Dream, as her co-leftie.

Yes, you are correct: The panel is pretty much massively imbalanced, as Gingrich is the only household name here and an extremely well-traveled TV personality already.

"Crossfire" was a true CNN original and one of the network's signature programs, airing from just after launch, in 1982, to 2005, when a former CNN president made the unusual decision of agreeing with Jon Stewart — that the show was  a huge waste of air and did more damage than good. In fact, ratings had dribbled away and the decision was a relatively easy one to make.

But in retrospect, it's clear that CNN had given up a piece of its heritage without so much as a fight to try to improve it, or at least make it relevant in an era when whole networks were (and are) engineered around political viewpoints.

Here's the CNN release:   

CNN today announced that Crossfire, previously the longest running political debate program on television, will return to the network this fall. Hosting from the right will be Newt Gingrich and S.E. Cupp, with Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones hosting from 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,” said Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide. “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.” In addition, all four hosts will appear across the network’s programming and its special coverage surrounding elections and political events. “Following the successful launches of Around the World, The Lead with Jake Tapper, and New Day, we felt it was the right time to turn our attention next to Crossfire,” said Ken Jautz, Executive Vice President of CNN. “This will be the next step in reinvigorating our lineup of live programs.”

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