CNN’s Plan for Fixing ‘Parker Spitzer’: Replace Parker

by | January 10, 2011 at 10:35 AM | TV News

'Parker Spitzer' (Photo: CNN)

'Parker Spitzer' (Photo: CNN)


CNN appears poised to replace one half of its “Parker Spitzer” show and it isn’t Eliot Spitzer.

It’s Kathleen Parker, the right-leaning columnist who’s reportedly been unhappy on the program. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that CNN is considering replacing Parker but keeping Spitzer. The story cited unnamed “people familiar with the matter.”

Officially, a CNN spokeswoman told the WSJ that her network is happy with the progress “Parker Spitzer” has made at 8 p.m./7c weeknights since its debut in October. “We aren’t going to engage in speculation,” she said. “The show continues to improve and we think it is a good addition to our lineup, providing smart, substantive analysis on the day’s news.”

But The Hollywood Reporter points out that “Parker Spitzer” has made little headway against its higher-rated rivals in the time period – “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News Channel (averaging 2.6 million viewers nightly) and “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on MSNBC (874,000). “Parker Spitzer” is averaging under 500,000, a contributing factor in CNN’s steep decline in viewership in 2010, when it lost 34 percent of its prime-time audience compared to 2009.

Rumors that the two co-hosts of “Parker Spitzer” have struggled to develop a rapport have dogged the show for a while. One story in late November had Parker “storming off the set” during a taping because she felt Spitzer — the hard-charging, scandalized former governor of New York — was hogging the limelight. And it’s true that Spitzer often comes across on the show as the more assertive of the two.

The struggle for viewership from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. must be a concern for CNN brass as they prepare for the launch next Monday (Jan. 17) of “Piers Morgan Tonight,” CNN’s long-awaited replacement for “Larry King Live” at 9/8c.

The WSJ story gave no indication of when CNN would make a move to replace Kathleen Parker (or simply have Spitzer go solo, as has also been rumored). And it’s entirely possible they won’t replace her at all.

The question is: Who should CNN get to counterbalance the liberal Spitzer? Any ideas? Sarah Palin?