An honorary Carolina Girl who's also a class act just crashed and burned up in New York. I predict she'll walk away just fine. Or, at least, get a great book deal out of it.
Kathleen Parker, late of Camden and Hilton Head, until recently comprised one half of the dynamic duo making up CNN's doomed "Parker Spitzer." It airs weeknights at 8 P.M., directly opposite Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. Bill hasn't noticed.
Has there ever been such a mismatch in network history?
Parker - whose stuff appears here in The Sun News - is a distinguished journalist, wife and mother. Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, she's worked for five different newspapers in her 30-year career. Parker - who describes herself as a "rational conservative" - made headlines in 2008 when she called on GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin to step down. Palin, Parker said, had shown herself to be "clearly out of her league." Parker's also a critic of the tea party, Fox News' Glenn Beck and evangelical Christians.
Nor does Kathleen Parker pull her punches about her adopted state.
"South Carolina," Parker wrote when Nikki Haley first entered the GOP gubernatorial race, "seems bent on providing comedy routines for the rest of the nation." By June 2010, she was writing that: "When a South Carolina politician described his state as 'too small to be a republic and too large to be an insane asylum,' he might have added: 'but just perfect for a bordello!'"
Parker calls the Palmetto State "the heart of bubba-land."
In short, Kathleen Parker is, like Joe Scarborough, a conservative whom liberals can love. Indeed, she said as much on "Morning Joe" when she won her Pulitzer. "It's only," Parker said, "because I'm a conservative basher that I'm now recognized." It's also probably why she got the CNN gig in the first place.
But Republican in name only or not, Kathleen Parker didn't deserve what's just happened to her. She didn't deserve America's best-known lothario sitting next to her as an on-air partner.
Parker's co-host, you see, was one Elliot Spitzer.
That's right. Client 9. It's hard to forget the image of Silda Spitzer and their daughters at the resignation press conference.
Apparently, I'm not alone. Five months in, "Parker Spitzer" had a viewership which approached zero.
Half of the late Keith Olbermann. One fifth of O'Reilly. Even less than Campbell Brown's program, which "Parker Spitzer" replaced.
Of course, the bum ratings weren't all Parker and Spitzer's fault. CNN's lost one third of its audience since 2005. Joel Klein, the CNN president who initiated the program, was fired in October. At the time, Howard Kurtz wrote that Klein's exit would make it easier for the CNN suits to drop-kick "Parker Spitzer" in short order.
But Elliot Spitzer's rehabilitation by the liberal media represents everything which is wrong in American public life.
Watching the show gingerly discuss the New York GOP gubernatorial candidate's remarks about gay lifestyles was positively cringe-making. Which brings us back to Ms. Parker's unhappy ending. As she spelled out in a June 27, 2010, piece ("Why I'm Teaming with Eliot Spitzer on CNN"), Parker's a grown-up. She went to the Big Show with her eyes wide open. Sensibly, her family remained in Camden.
Good thing. With Piers Morgan (who debuted on January 17 as Larry King's replacement in the 9 P.M. slot) dropping like a rock, the suits at CNN have made an executive decision. They're dropping Parker and keeping the yutz .
So it's over, Kathleen. Maybe Cokie Roberts will let you borrow her place in Pawleys Island for a little inner healing. Quiet walks. Clamming and surf-fishing. Browsing at Litchfield Books.
Calinky - the home of Pat Conroy, James Dickey, Sue Monk Kidd, Archibald Rutledge and many more - still loves you.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach