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Eliot Spitzer's new CNN show is dull

Oct. 5, 2010 at 5:05 a.m.


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By Verne Gay

Newsday

(MCT)

If you can forget the past - "if" as your operative word - Eliot Spitzer as talk show host is not half-bad. Monday night, the magic of TV lighting and pancake makeup softened the formidable brow. He smiled a lot, laughed easily, and playfully bantered with his new CNN co-host - Kathleen Parker. They almost seemed to like each other. Maybe they do.

And then, there was his new show, "Parker/Spitzer," which launched at 8 EDT. Of this, there were problems. After CNN hired Spitzer earlier this year and appeared to successfully maneuver past the fact that it had just named a former governor who had resigned in the wake of a prostitution scandal as a new prime-time host, the network began to say what his new show would not be. Not "Crossfire," not "Morning Joe," not "Hannity & Colmes," and not Republican versus Democrat.

Instead, Parker - an (apparently) conservative Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with The Washington Post - said last night the new show will be "a conversation rather than a food fight." Viewers, she added, "tend to gravitate to where they can reaffirm what they already believe. We're trying to get away from those pods of comfort and try to find some common ground rather than reinforce our own views." Those views? Your guess is as good as mine, and maybe even theirs.

The first edition of "Parker/Spitzer" was a mess - a flavorless glob of competing, confusing, counterintuitive opinions, all disgorged in the same sound bite. A food fight would have been preferable. Parker seemed to profess admiration for Sarah Palin, until she didn't (stop teasing the electorate, she demanded). In his opener, Spitzer demanded that the president fire Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner; moments later he professed his "love" for Geithner.

Seriously.

Aaron Sorkin - who's got a movie to sell ("The Social Network," which he wrote) - told the hosts that Palin is an "idiot ... a jaw-droppingly incompetent and mean woman." The hosts smiled. Spitzer demanded that he make a sequel to "The West Wing." Sorkin then smiled.

The former president of CNN who commissioned this program was Jonathan Klein. He was fired recently and after Monday night's near-disastrous launch, little wonder why.

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Verne Gay: verne.gay@newsday.com

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(c) 2010, Newsday.

Visit Newsday online at http://www.newsday.com/.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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