'Crossfire' premiere: Newt Gingrich and Van Jones may have common ground on Syria
On Monday (Sept. 9) at 6:30 p.m. ET (live in all time zones), the daily Right/Left debate program "Crossfire" re-launches on CNN, with four new co-hosts and guests.
Kicking off the show as co-hosts on Monday are lawyer Van Jones, an environmental and civil-rights attorney; and Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House turned author and documentary filmmaker.
The second two co-hosts debut Tuesday: conservative columnist and commentator S.E. Cupp, most recently seen on MSNBC's "The Cycle"; and Stephanie Cutter, deputy manager of President Obama's re-election campaign.
Guests for the first show are Rep. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) discussing the debate over military intervention in Syria and other events in the news. Viewers can weigh in on the action by voting in real time on the topics discussed on mobile devices, tablets or PCs via Twitter, Facebook or CNN.com/Crossfire. Results will be announced during the broadcast.
If you assume you know how Gingrich and Jones -- as well as their colleagues -- will fall on the Syria issue, Gingrich says you might be surprised.
Speaking during rehearsals the week before premiere, Gingrich tells Zap2it, "We're going through this interesting period right now where both Van and I are very skeptical of the Syrian campaign, and Stephanie is the defender of the establishment.
"There'll be times when Van and I are clearly on opposite sides, so it'll be interesting to see how it swirls around. S.E. Cupp is a conservative, but she's sort of a libertarian conservative, so she brings a little different flavor to the mix. There'll be occasions when she and I will be on opposite sides. There'll be occasions when, for example, on Syria, you could do a show where Van is debating Stephanie."
In 2004, Jon Stewart was a guest on the original version of "Crossfire" with liberal Paul Begala and conservative Tucker Carlson. His rant about how the show was damaging political discourse in America was credited with helping end the old show.
According to Gingrich, there won't be a need for him to do that again.
"One of the things we committed to when we talked about doing the show was that we wouldn't be yelling at each other," he says. "This is not going to be predictable. This is not going to be where you come to see your talking points.
"Our goal is to create context with interesting people who actually know what they're talking about, and to get them engaged in a very lively discussion that we are a part of, but not to have an automatic right/left debate."
It helps that Gingrich was acquainted with his new co-workers before "Crossfire" -- and that at least one of them was very familiar with him.
"I did some stuff with Stephanie after the election," he says, "and I knew about her for years, of course. Van Jones and I have turned out to have a lot of interesting conversations. Van, to my shock, has been been studying my writing and my courses for years. That's really been different."