Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Tucker Carlson: Can a reservation conservative boost MSNBC?

So the bow-tied one is being wooed by MSNBC. Couple that with his PBS show and you have a perfect example of failing upward.

He hosts a floundering show on a network that is getting stomped by Fox so the best minds of the MSM decide that he is a hot property. The echo chamber inside the coastal cocoon must be deafening.

MSNBC wants to reach conservatives. But they want only safe, MSM-approved conservative voices. Carlson earned his stripes by flacking for McCain in the 2000 primaries and serving as a willing tackling dummy for Carville and Begala on Crossfire. What he does not possess is proven appeal in Red America.

If it is serious MSNBC needs a conservative host with exactly that. Matthews and Olberman repel red staters. It will take a compelling personality to bring them back at 9.00 pm. A safe choice like Carlson won't do that.

In truth, though, it is hard to think of potential hosts who could pull it off. Let's face it, the formula-a host sitting at a table with a bunch of spinners and glib reporters who rehash the headlines-is tired. It doesn't "break" news and the discussion is all heat and no light.

Instead of coming up with a "new' program using a tapped-out format and a recycled host, MSNBC should be bold-new faces, different approach.

For one thing, why does the show have to be headquartered in Washington or New York? Why not Chicago, Dallas, or Denver?

Second, why does the host have to be "TV friendly"? Charles Kuralt was the antithesis of the modern anchor. Yet he was popular with viewers at CBS, both as a reporter and the host of "Sunday Morning." You get a much deeper talent pool when you get past the idea that viewers demand that their news be read by Brian Williams-types.

Personally, I rarely watch FNC in prime time even though I live in Red America. But I'd tune in to a show on CNN or MSNBC to watch an intelligent hour of discussion hosted by Milt Rosenberg.

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