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Thursday, December 02, 2010

ANDY MARTIN: Can this marriage be saved? CNN’s Parker-Spitzer

Media analyst/critic Andy Martin explains why the CNN program “Parker-Spitzer” was doomed to failure from the start. Andy says that Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker were mismatched as TV talk show hosts. Andy Martin has experience with both talk TV and talk radio.

Internet Powerhouse Andy Martin says CNN’s “Parker-Spitzer” show was doomed from its inception

Martin says Jay Leno’s joke on the Tonight Show Thursday is the final sign that Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer were a mismatch
“The Internet Powerhouse”
Andy Martin
Executive Editor

“Factually Correct, Not Politically Correct”





(PALM BEACH)(December 3, 2010) I have followed Kathleen Parker’s career since she was a writer at the Orlando Sentinel in the 1980’s. Parker is a liberal’s idea of what a conservative should be. That's why she won a liberal Pulitzer Prize. She is “conservative” in a middle-of-the-road sort of way, nonconfrontational and pleasant without being pungent. That’s why CNN chose Parker to be a punching bag for Eliot Spitzer.

The strange thing is, Parker appears to have been the last one in on the joke. She apparently thought she was selected to be on CNN because of her “gravitas” and “manners.” Wrong.

Thursday night (December 2nd) Jay Leno cracked a joke about the coming crackup at Parker-Spitzer. Bad sign. The late-night jokesters are usually the last stop before you get put on the midnight bus to Milledgeville.

Personally, I thought that Kathleen Parker was wrong for the job. She was a total mismatch for Eliot Spitzer. I did not write about the new show when it opened for a couple of reasons. First, I had applied to go up against Spitzer. Parker beat me out. If I came out as critical from the gitgo it might have looked like sour grapes. Second, you hate to be down on something at the start. So I let time take its toll. Now that Parker-Spitzer is all but buried, I can comment.

Parker and Spitzer were mismatched for a number of reasons.

Parker made a big point in media interviews, and even on her own show, of her superior “manners.” Puuuhleeze. When someone tells you how upstanding their manners are, that’s a sign of bad manners. Or sheer stupidity.

Second, love or hate Eliot Spitzer, he’s an experienced advocate. To put a tough advocate up against a creampuff journalist was like putting a heavyweight boxer in the ring with a lightweight “contenda.” It’s no match.

I watch all the cable TV bobbleheads during the evening but I did not pay much attention to Parker-Spitzer because it was so wimpy. Parker would look adoringly in the direction where guests were sitting, and Spitzer would bang away at his agenda. It was “no match” and soon it will be “no mas.”

You can’t pair an experienced aggressive lawyer with someone who is new to TV, and trying to flaunt her manners, and expect a fair fight.

The negative publicity in the New York Post (see links below) is an invitation to Parker to take her leave. CNN sources are portraying Parker as a churlish eccentric who is angry at being pushed around by Spitzer. Worse, we now know Parker has her dog on the set. Not many people write an employment contract that calls for their dog to be in the office.

The fact that “dog-in-the-office” stories are now surfacing on Page Six in the New York Post is a sure sign CNN is hoping Parker will walk the plank voluntarily and not have to be pushed overboard.

You don’t need a liberal/conservative split on a show to have an interesting program. Keith Olbermann is a vicious leftist with a Chavista agenda, but his show is interesting (and humorous) because of the leftist spear-chuckers he brings out to support his majesty. Likewise, Sean Hannity usually manages to hold attention even though his show is heavily skewed to the right. Leftists are under no illusions when they appear on camera with Hannity; they are there to be punching bags for Sean’s agenda.

CNN has a fundamentally flawed broadcasting strategy, and it’s going to get worse. Here’s why. You can be left, or you can be right. But you can’t be mush. If you want to serve up a real conflict between left and right (which Parker-Spitzer was incapable of delivering) you need balanced talents on both sides. You can’t have Miss “Manners” on one side (Parker) and Mr. “Tough Guy” on the other (Spitzer), and expect a fair food fight.

CNN continues to perpetuate a flawed strategy. I am not an admirer of Rachel Maddow’s views (MSNBC) but I occasionally sample her program because of her passionate leftist inanity. She’s entertaining. Larry King was a colossal bore. Now CNN is replicating King’s boring show with a British bore. Piers Morgan is equally doomed to failure.

Reality: not many celebrities today can sustain an interesting one-hour conversation. Most celebs are just plain dumb, and boring. Fifteen minutes, maybe half an hour at the most. King was out of another era, and CNN’s attempts to “freshen” a dated format with a new practitioner won’t move the ratings very much.

Well, CNN can now hire me to replace Parker. No one has ever called me a creampuff. And I’d also like to take on Anderson Cooper and all of his anti-Birther lies as well. CNN can’t do any worse with me than they did with Parker. In the meantime, Kathleen can head back to South Carolina and luxuriate in her superior “manners.” It’s the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. They need her down there. Kathleen, call home.

CNN, get a life, and get a real programming schedule before MSNBC and Fox News eat any more of your lunch. You can’t draw viewers with creampuff programs. Piers Morgan will follow in Larry King’s footsteps. Just give Morgan a few moths. You’ll see.

Footnote to history: I was one of the early guests who helped pioneer talk television. And I helped Fox News launch in 1966, by reporting for Fox from Palm Beach. Been there, done that, darling. Parker-Spitzer? Done in.

THE VERDICT: The Parker-Spitzer marriage is doomed. Call the next case.

ABOUT ANDY: Chicago Public Radio calls Andy Martin a “boisterous Internet activist.” Andy is the legendary New York and Chicago-based muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. He has over forty years of background in radio and television and is the dean of Illinois media and communications. He promotes his best-selling book, “Obama: The Man Behind The Mask” and his Internet movie "Obama: The Hawai'i years." Martin has been a leading corruption fighter in Illinois for over forty years. He is currently sponsoring
Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of the “Internet Powerhouse,” He comments on regional, national and world events with more than four decades of investigative and analytical experience. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York (LaGuardia CC, Bronx CC).

UPDATES: Andy's columns are also posted at;[NOTE: We try to correct any typographical errors in this story on our blogs; find our latest edition there.]

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