Earlier this week, Mediaite published a list of 10 cable news shows that the world was not sad to see go after they were cancelled. It’s only fair then that we give you a list of the 10 cancelled cable news shows that are sorely missed.
While we certainly miss some more than others, and there notable mentions that did not make the final cut, this is the definitive Mediaite list of the 10 cable news shows which should have never been cancelled.
The cable news world has still not quite recovered from their loss.
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Countdown … with Lester Holt
You may be more familiar with MSNBC’s
Countdown when it was hosted by the iconic … until he was fired. He took the name with him to Current TV until, well, he was fired from there too. But the name of the program owes its origins to the countdown to the Iraq War. The 2002 – 2004 show was an information-dense program filled with news, analysis, interviews and in-depth reports about the military and diplomatic machinations that preceded and immediately followed the invasion of Iraq. Hosted by Keith Olbermann , who still has a home at NBC News, this program earned a slot on our list for making a big impression on a certain young news-talk radio producer for whom this was required viewing.
Lester Holt VIDEO
Amid constant reports that CNN’s ratings trouble is prompting the network’s executives to rethink their brand and their programming, it is surprising that there is not a louder public clamor to bring back
Crossfire. Running for nearly 23 years (1982 – 2005), the show never got stale – probably as a result of their constantly shifting hosts. The stars yesteryear and today that hosted this program included , Tucker Carlson Geraldine Ferraro, , Bill Press , Mary Matalin Tony Snow, , Bob Beckel Bob Novak, John Sununu and . This show created too many moments to recount (like Novak swearing and Pat Buchanan walking off the set when mocked by – featuring a very young James Carville ). Below, Carlson and Ed Henry interviewed Paul Begala The Daily Show host – it is as compelling television now as it was in 2004.
Jon Stewart VIDEO
Veteran talk show host and vocal liberal
Phil Donahue’s MSNBC program ran from mid-2002 to early 2003. Despite being heavily promoted by the network and garnering initially high ratings, Donahue’s program rapidly lost its audience and was cancelled. A controversy arose when Donahue was allegedly cancelled due to his opposition to the rapidly approaching Iraq war. However, given MSNBC’s ideological identity today, the program would fit nicely within MSNBC’s present lineup. Donahue inspired a loyal following among progressives, including Democracy Now host Amy Goodman who confronted on the air over NBC letting Donahue go – during MSNBC’s ten-year anniversary celebration no less!
Chris Matthews VIDEO
The Drudge, as in “Report.” ’s short-lived Fox News Channel program from 1998 – 1999 ended, according to Matt Drudge , after the host Howard Kurtz walked off his program when network executives refused to let him air an image of a fetus. Not much video evidence of this show exists outside FNC’s network archives. This example of Drudge’s show is all the evidence that remains of his program on the internet. Here, Drudge rails against the “death education” that was taught at Columbine High School prior to the 1999 massacre.
While former Congressman
’s Joe Scarborough Morning Joe is a cultural touchstone, an earlier incarnation of his take on cable news was just as compelling. Where else, for example, would you be able to get one of your producers drunk in equal proportion to actor Mel Gibson in order to determine whether or not his offensive, anti-Semitic rants were booze-induced? I submit, nowhere. While Scarborough’s morning program is far more serious than his long-running primetime program was, you can still see the elements of a comic in Scarborough’s personality. At 9 p.m., however, they were far more pronounced:
The Beltway Boys
and Mort Kondracke , Fred Barnes The Beltway Boys was a serious debate show with a strong editorial voice that tackled issues considered too “in the weeds” for the average cable viewer. This program never talked down to its audience and the hosts always had a lot to say. Despite running for nearly 11 years (1998 – 2009), this program was an early precursor to Fox News Channel’s modern-feeling Special Report. Here, the hosts debate the history of the New Deal ahead of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration. Their conversation was strikingly prescient:
Andrew Napolitano's Freedom Watch
A program with a loyal fan base that persists today, Judge
’s Andrew Napolitano Freedom Watch tackled legal and political issues of the day from a libertarian perspective. Napolitano’s “Freedom Files" was a must-see daily rundown of the victories or failures for liberty on any given day. Running on Fox Business Network from 2009 to early 2012, Napolitano’s show began to see a ratings slip in 2011 from its early-2009 highs. Napolitano continues to garner a significant amount of Fox News and Fox Business airtime as both networks’ senior judicial analyst, but no one watches the freedom anymore – at least, not like Judge Nap did. His final editorial segment is both haunting and dramatic:
Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull
Running from 2008 – 2010, longtime CNN anchor
’s interview program with a touch of editorial vision thrown in at the end prompted many to question whether her program was a prototype for the future of a network seeking an identity in today's hyper-partisan cable news reality. Brown’s program, originally conceived as a 2008 election news program and later renamed Campbell Brown Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull, was cancelled when she announced her retirement in 2010. But the show was a real news-maker. This editorial segment, enhanced with a hard hitting interview with senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, remains a thoroughly entertaining and informative example of what cable news can be at its best.
John McEnroe somehow landed himself a talk show program on NBC’s business network CNBC. Running for just six months in 2004, the program was nearly universally unloved by critics. McEnroe had guests on ranging from business executives to comedians to morning radio shock jocks – and the host was known to fire tennis balls at them near the end of the program. McEnroe’s show even allowed for foul-mouthed puppets. It is striking that this found a home on cable news at all, let alone CNBC. Can you even get away with a segment like this today? Even more to the point, how is it that absolutely no one watched this show at the time?
Larry King Live
Few would argue that
’s iconic CNN interview program did not get a fair shot. Running from 1985 to 2010, King’s highlights (and lowlights) are too numerous to count outside of a voluminous text. But King’s interviews did begin to slip in their relevance as the program wore into its 20th year. While King was best known for cable news firsts – like Larry King hosting a 1993 debate between Vice President Al Gore and Ross Perot over the creation of NAFTA – he was also known for perturbing his guests for being insufficiently prepped for the interview. Perhaps most notably in this category is King’s interview with Jerry Seinfeld.
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