After more than eight years since the cancellation of “Crossfire” in June of 2005, the once-popular debate program returned to the Cable News Network on Wednesday as a segment of that evening's “Piers Morgan Live” with a spirited debate about the U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding California's Proposition 8 and the dismissal of part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The first new debate between conservatives and liberals featured Republican Newt Gingrich stating that the eight million voters who approved the proposition “have a pretty good reason to feel a little more alienated from Washington than they were yesterday.”
The former House speaker also stated that the court “didn't actually decide the substance of the case,” instead remitting the issue back to the judiciary in the Golden State, which previously struck down the proposition.
You had a 5-4 decision to reject eight million Californians on the grounds that eight million people have no standing before the Supreme Court. That's a huge mistake.
Morgan asked Gingrich why he so strongly objects to gay people having the same marriage rights and why anyone would view it as “a tragedy” that more people get to legally marry who they want. Gingrich maintained that it was "a blow to democracy" and traditional marriage.
The next panelist to speak was Anthony Kapel “Van” Jones, an environmental advocate, civil rights activist and attorney who stated: “The court has a job to do to protect people. I'm glad they did the job.”
“As a Christian, if you’re concerned about traditional marriage, Kim Kardashian has done more harm to traditional marriage than any gay person,” Jones said.
The institution of marriage has been falling apart because heterosexuals have been screwing it up. We’re the ones getting divorced. We’re the ones cheating. We’re the ones who are shacking up. The people who brought the dignity and the honor back to the institution are the lesbian and gay community.
After making that common but bizarre statement, Jones concluded by saying that “just because you put something on the ballot” doesn't make it right. “If you had put on the ballot civil rights in 1950, we wouldn’t have them.”
Sarah Elizabeth “S.E.” Cupp, who is currently co-host of MSNBC's weekday afternoon program “The Cycle” and a panelist on “Real News From the Blaze” featured on TheBlaze website, spoke next, stating that she viewed Wednesday's rulings “as a win for state's rights and federalism.”
Well, when it comes to Prop. 8, I agree with Newt. It’s a rejection of the voices of the people, and that is -- that’s a shame.
“I am a conservative who happens to support gay rights. I’m a conservative who supports marriage. I’m a conservative who supports gay marriage,” she added.
Referring to herself as “a small-government conservative who supports federalism,” Cupp called the decision on DOMA “a huge victory” because “the federal government has to acknowledge the right of the states.”
Completing the panel was former Obama campaign adviser Stephanie Cutter, who said: “I am very happy about the Supreme Court’s decision today on DOMA. A lot of us have been against DOMA for a long time, have been fighting to overturn it.”
Cutter agreed with Jones that voters have been wrong before. “That’s why we have checks and balances in our government. We have three branches of government, and the courts performed a check on the people and vice versa.”
“And I think that today, you know, there was a check on ensuring that people have equality in California,” she added.
As NewsBusters previously reported, Morgan began the segment with a clip from a 1990 episode that featured a much younger Rush Limbaugh, then declared that the conservative talk radio host is “too old and too boring” to be on the network's new version of the long-running series.
Nevertheless, Jones noted that each edition of the new “Crossfire” will be a 30-minute debate on one issue at a time. CNN executives hope this format will help duplicate the success of the previous version of the program, which ran from 1982 to 2005 and introduced such notable individuals to the public as Pat Buchanan, Bob Beckel, Mary Matalin, Paul Begala and James Carville.
Can CNN under the leadership of Jeff Zucker, the network's president, catch lightning in a bottle again? Only time -- and the absence of snuffy anchor Piers Morgan -- will tell.