CNN’s reboot of “Crossfire” has a new supervising producer – a media veteran fired last year by Yahoo! News for saying Mitt and Ann Romney were happy to watch “black people drowning.”
David Chalian, who most recently served as vice president of video programming for Politico, will be the hands-on boss in the control room for the show, which is set to debut this fall. Prior to Politico, Chalian was Washington bureau chief for Yahoo! News until his extreme liberal bias was exposed while he covered the Republican National Convention last year.
“They aren’t concerned at all,” Chalian said, describing GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann. “They are happy to have a party with black people drowning.”
Chalian apparently didn’t realize his microphone, which also picked up associates laughing about the remark, was live. He was apparently alluding to the convention taking place as Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans.
Chalian apologized for the comments, which he called an "inappropriate and thoughtless joke." But Yahoo fired him two days later, saying, “we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended.”
Tim Graham, director of media analysis at Media Research Center, said CNN's ignoring of Chalian's hot mic comment is telling.
"They have obviously decided that some gaffes are not career-crippling," Graham said. "I do not see a cable network of this stripe hiring someone who'd made a crude racial comment against Obama."
“Crossfire,” a raucous news show with liberals and conservatives debating, sometimes in pairs, debuted in 1982 and was one of the network’s signature shows during its late-1980s heyday. Among its famous alumni are Pat Buchanan, John Sununu, Robert Novak, Michael Kinsley and Paul Begala. It ran until 2005, when it was canceled amid sluggish ratings and scathing criticism from comic Jon Stewart.
The network has undergone several lineup and personnel changes since former NBC boss Jeff Zucker took over as president last November.
"I'm excited to announce David Chalian is joining CNN as the supervising producer for Crossfire," said Executive Producer Rebecca Kutler. "David's experience bringing politics to the digital space will help shape the next generation of 'Crossfire.' We're lucky to have him -- he starts today."
The network has tabbed Newt Gingrich and conservative columnist S.E. Cupp as the conservative hosts, squaring off nightly against former Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones, a former “green jobs” adviser to President Obama who stepped down in 2009 amid several controversies, including his name having appeared on a 9/11 truther petition.