On several occasions in recent years, I’ve mocked the pinheads who run CNN for their pathetic efforts to reverse the declining fortunes of the once-proud granddaddy of cable news outfits.
I can understand that CNN wants to be something different from its decidedly partisan rivals, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, but it apparently just doesn’t know how to do it.
Well, here’s an idea that can’t miss, if I say so myself. It would provide the same kind of right-left balance that CNN so desperately covets, and it wouldn’t cost much. I’ve even come up with a name for it: The CNN Nightly Debate.
Here’s the plan: A pair of partisans on opposite sides of a given issue offer arguments of three minutes each with a commercial break between each six-minute round. Interruptions are not allowed, and a host serves only to introduce the participants — but not to stick his or her nose into the debate.
In a 60-minute format (with the same participants for the whole hour), there could be at least six rounds of exchanges, leaving plenty of time for commercials, introductions, etc.
The novelty of talking heads not shouting each other down and not being interrupted by a host would have great appeal to viewers across the ideological spectrum. And in many cases, such debates would engender reaction in the mainstream media and the conservative and liberal blogospheres.
The format, not the host, would be the star of the show. And the idea will have cost CNN nothing.