Like any television network, programming on cable news networks has an element of experimentation to it. And the road to success is often littered with failures. It will come as no surprise that Fox News, CNN and MSNBC have all had their fair share of failures as they perfected their programming models.
We here at Mediaite have complied a brief retrospective on the cancelled programs of the past which gave us a great appreciation for the polished and successful programs of today. Here is a brief list of the 10 cable news shows that you’re probably glad were cancelled.
Coming later this week, the top ten cable news shows you probably wish weren’t cancelled.
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That Regan Woman
Judith Regan hosted a number of talk shows from 1994 to 2004 – two of those were on Fox News -- the longest running of those was That Regan Woman. The hour-long interview show featured in-depth discussions with the newsmakers of the day. In the clip below, Regan engaged in a hard-hitting back and forth with pornography actress Jenna Jameson. Spoiler: despite her numerous attempts, Regan could not move Jameson to tears. Regan does, however, get Jameson to reveal that – unlike most porn stars – she might have “issues” with her parents.
Pat Sajak Weekend
Not much is known about the short-lived Fox News show that featured
Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak riffing of the news of the week and interviewing guests. The program broadcast on the ratings-bonanza that is Sunday nights, but it only lasted for a few months in 2003. Sajak often interviewed guests from the world of entertainment, including comedian Joan Rivers and fellow game show host Bob Barker. Video of the program is hard to find, but this transcript of an interview with Start Trek Voyager actress Kate Mulgrew is… riveting.
Hannity & Colmes
This wildly successful and long-running (1996 – 2009) cable news program may seem misplaced on a list of show you are probably are glad were cancelled. Fox News contributor
remains a strong addition to the network's lineup. He serves as the network’s go-to liberal voice for conservative prime time hosts like Alan Colmes . Colmes can take it, and he does a good job of advancing his views amid a hurricane of withering criticism. The Bill O’Reilly Hannity & Colmes formula was, however, tired and void of surprises by its 12th year. , like Colmes, is better served doing what he does best – a television version of their respective radio programs. The clip below pretty much illustrates why Hannity ended up hosting his own program on Fox.
Sean Hannity VIDEO
The Mitch Albom Show
had a program on MSNBC briefly in 2003. The program was pretty much a television broadcast of his radio program – a format which fails regularly outside of a Mitch Albom -related context. Despite decent ratings, the program was cancelled after a short run. It was rumored that Albom had a rocky relationship with MSNBC brass. But with riveting interviews like this bit where Albom lavishes rock artist Don Imus Warren Zevon with praise, who would have thought this could go wrong?
Alan Keyes Is Making Sense
If you weren’t watching MSNBC in the first half of 2002, you missed perennial Republican office seeker and vocal conservative
Alan Keyes hosting his own news program: Alan Keyes is Making Sense. When the show was cancelled, a Pro-Israeli Jewish group mounted a boycott of the cable network – eventually, the controversy surrounding Keyes’ cancellation resulted in his receiving integrity in journalism award from the government of Israel. But this program’s cancellation was a welcome development, if only because he treated us to lectures about media bias from his pulpit on MSNBC. Also, he had a tendency to yell at nuns:
The Savage Nation
Given today’s editorial perspective on MSNBC, it’s hard to believe there was a time when the network gave arch-conservative radio host
his own program. In 2002, he took his “Hollywood idiots” shtick from the radio to cable news – including his self-serving tendency to feature as many people who profess their love for him as possible. In his premier episode, Savage opened with a package of him driving around San Francisco surrounded by an adoring populace leading into a discussion about Michael Savage Saddam Hussein’s similarity to Hitler. How could they cancel this?
Do you know what cable news needs? A two-hour program about pets. No, really.
Pet News, a program on Fox News hosted by Brian Kilcommons, examined the issues that were relevant to pets and pet owners. In this episode, we learn about the troubles of Pebbles, the Hyacinth Macaw, among other pets. But how could this topic fill two whole hours, you ask? Answer: callers.
Both Sides With Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson had his own show – and unlike many of the programs this retrospective has featured, Jackson’s show ran from 1992 to 2000 on CNN. Jackson flirted with controversy regularly. Undeterred by the fate of Jimmy ‘The Greek,’ Jackson hosted an entire program in 2000 on whether black athletes prowess at sports was due to genetics. “Now that we're establishing that blacks can run, whites can jump, let's find out what's going on,” said Jackson heading into commercial. Who is not going to stick around through the break?
Fun fact: the Wikipedia page for Both Sides with Jesse Jackson was recently deleted. Its only contributor was a guy named “The Airport Vandal Strikes Once More!” One can only assume his intentions were pure and just.
Jesse Ventura’s America
Before he was a 9/11 conspiracy proponent, but after he was the governor of Minnesota, a pro-wrestler and a Navy SEAL,
Jesse Ventura had a show on MSNBC. In this episode, Ventura tackles the media’s bias -- again, as a member of the media. Ventra’s program ran from October to December, 2003. Even back then, he shows signs of his now-chronic mistrust of all practices by any news disseminating organization. Ventura asked, for example, why newspapers have separate headline writers. It's a conspiracy!
The ½ Hour News Hour
Well before Fox News Channel’s
successful foray into comedy with (Correction: Red Eye Red Eye and The 1/2 Hour News Hour premiered in the same month of 2007), Fox pioneered the comedy cable news genre with this spectacular flop – The ½ Hour News Hour.
This show prompted watching parties around the country as the nation gathered around their televisions to watch News Corp.’s cringe-worthy attempt to cash in on the influence and viewership of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
This faux news program cum sketch comedy aired for just one season in 2007, though the first two episodes aired three weeks apart and the rest of the season aired in May through September. The sporadic airing and shifting day parts this show suffered reflects the lack of confidence that the network had in the program. And for good reason. If you missed this abomination when it aired, check it out below.
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