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CNN lets Tucker Carlson go

Last Updated: Thursday, January 6, 2005 | 9:21 AM ET

Tucker Carlson, the argumentative conservative co-host of Crossfire, has been let go by CNN.

Carlson made a name for himself on the program with his trademark bow tie – and his trademark bullying of guests.

CNN head Jonathan Klein told Carlson on Wednesday that the network has decided not to renew his contract.

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson

Other changes are coming to Crossfire as well. The half-hour show will likely become a shorter segment inside another afternoon program, Inside Politics.

Carlson, who also hosts a show on PBS, has reportedly been discussing the possibility of joining CNN rival MSNBC.

"His career aspirations and our programming needs just don't synch up," Klein told the Associated Press.

"He wants to host his own nighttime show and we don't see that in the cards here. Out of respect for him and his talent, we thought it would be best to let him explore opportunities elsewhere."

Klein added that he hopes Crossfire's other three rotating co-hosts – Paul Begala, James Carville, and Bob Novak – will remain with CNN as commentators.

Launched in 1982, Crossfire was originally hosted by Pat Buchanan on the right and Michael Kinsley on the left.

Once a jewel in the network's crown, it had dropped in the ratings by 21 per cent since last season, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Some guests gave back to Carlson as good as they got.

Appearing as a guest on Crossfire in October, Daily Show host Jon Stewart called Carlson a "dick" who promotes "partisan hackery."

Stewart said he believes the program's format has become emblematic of the decay of the American political system, a diagnosis with which Carlson's boss appears to agree.

"I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp," Klein said.

In November, Carlson also famously interviewed maverick Canadian MP Carolyn Parrish on fellow host Wolf Blitzer's program Wolf Blitzer Reports.

Ostensibly a discussion of U.S.-Canadian relations, the segment digressed into a showcase for Carlson to outline his belief that Canadians spend a lot of time dogsledding.

"I don't think every Canadian is dogsledding at all times but I do think there's a lot of dogsledding in Canada," he said after Parrish challenged him. "Yes, I do think that's true."

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