Updated 6:05 p.m. PT:
Eliot Spitzer just wrapped up his final show at CNN, and he ended it by quoting Teddy Roosevelt. That might seem a little self-important for a man whose show was less than a year old, but Spitzer quoted the Roosevelt speech from which he took the name of his show — "In the Arena."
Spitzer spent most of the hour discussing the Casey Anthony trial and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, including an amusing interview with French journalist Bernard-Henri Levy. Levy said the lesson from the Strauss-Kahn coverage was the need for self-examination, for the populace in both France and the United States to realize the fallibility of the press.
When that interview wrapped, Spitzer announced it would be his last program (though it was almost an aside). The Roosevelt speech he quoted, which was delivered at the Sorbonne back in 1910, lauds the man who dares rather than accept defeat.
Spitzer may have seen his foray into the prime-time arena as such a deed, and in defeat he bowed out quietly.
Updated 3:45 p.m. PT:
CNN has now announced Eliot Spitzer will air his last episode of "In the Arena" tonight and that guest hosts will take his spot over the show's last few weeks. In the earliest reports about the shakeup at CNN, Ken Jautz, CNN's executive vice president, had said the network would look to keep Spitzer around in some capacity. It now appears that is unlikely.
CNN cancelled Eliot Spitzer’s talk show “In the Arena” Wednesday, causing a major shake-up in the network’s prime-time slate. Spitzer’s show, which aired at 8 p.m., will be replaced by Anderson Cooper’s “AC 360,” which presently airs at 10 p.m.
CNN created the show last summer, though it was initially titled “Parker Spitzer” and co-hosted by Spitzer and Kathleen Parker. It was framed as a showcase for debate and the presentation of competing views. Spitzer, the former New York governor, would be the liberal. Parker, a syndicated Washington Post columnist — and Pulitzer Prize-winner — would be the conservative.
"Parker Spitzer" never attracted the ratings CNN had hoped for — debuting to just 454,00 viewers — and by Februrary Parker was shown the door. The show was then reformatted as "In the Arena," which invovled Spitzer talking with recurring co-hosts and different guests each night. It appeared to gain a brief ratings bump, but continued to struggle. In the second quarter of 2011, "In the Arena" ranked 27th among cable news shows, worse than all of its competitors at 8 p.m. and even drawing a smaller audience than the re-run of Cooper's show at 11 p.m.
It was seen as a risky move from the outset given that just two years before Spitzer was forced to resign as governor amidst a prostitution scandal.
Cooper's shift to the 8 p.m. slot is one of several changes coming to CNN's prime-time line-up. Erin Burnett, a recent hire from CNBC, will take John King's 7 p.m. slot while King's "John King USA" will move to 6 p.m. Cooper's show will now re-air at 10 p.m., and Burnett's will re-air at 11 p.m. The only show unaffected is "Piers Morgan Live," which will maintain its 9 p.m. spot.
See the CNN press release below.