CNN's bizarre pairing of disgraced Empire State Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Kathleen Parker is a watershed moment in the history of television. A slap in the face of serious, professional, respected journalists like Keith Olbermann and Geraldo Rivera, the Spitzer-Parker duo demonstrates that embattled networks will now do anything to build ratings.There are so many disgraced former politicians out there that the possibilities are endless. And with the newspaper trade sinking every year, there are lots of pundits out there who would jump at the opportunity to make some more bucks from a TV deal.
The days of serious, cerebral, contemplative programming like "Glenn Beck" and "The Rachel Maddow Show" are officially at an end. By this time next year it will be hard to believe that luminaries like Tucker Carlson and Donnie Deutsch and Jim Cramer once ruled the airwaves. From now on, it's going to be a freak show free-for-all.
And it's going to happen fast. Within hours of the news that CNN's groundbreaking, disgraced-governor talk show would begin airing soon, three other disgraced-governor talk-show programs were announced. Most fall squarely into the Spitzer-Parker mold—in that great attention has been paid to finding one host who everyone pretty much admires and one who has left the governor's mansion under a cloud.
ABC has already entered the disgraced governors talk show sweepstakes with "Spare the Rod," a Sunday morning show pairing controversial former governor Rod Blagojevich, currently under indictment for corruption, with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
"She's smart as a whip and he's crooked as the day is long," exults an ABC spokesperson. "In terms of bringing complete disgrace onto his office, Rod makes Spitzer look like a rank amateur. He told Maureen she could only be on the show if she kicked back a third of her salary to a trucking firm his cousin Freddy operates down in Moline. The guy's a natural."
Notice the other pattern from the Spitzer-Parker pairing. As they've done before, CNN is matching a politician with a pundit. The politicians like Carville and Begala or Buchanan will be totally partisan while the pundit will probably be happy to criticize both sides. If they really want to match it up, they should have either two disgraced former politicians or two pundits. Though who would be the liberal equivalent of Kathleen Parker - a liberal who has lapsed and criticizes his or her own side just as much as the other???? How about Mickey Kaus? Or would that be too intelligent a choice for TV?