Bow-Tied Analyst Has Yet Another TV Talk Show
Do Viewers Really Want More Tucker Carlson?
From the universe of annoying liberal habits, here are two that consistently jump off the page:
--- When our viewpoints are intentionally misrepresented, to suit their cartoonish horns-on-heads images of conservatives.
--- When they use their still-considerable mainstream media muscle to hire phony, weak, or otherwise ineffective "conservatives" for radio, television and newspaper gigs, in order to make our side look foolish.
That likely explains how lightweight pundit Tucker Carlson has landed yet another TV talk show, this time on MSNBC, after a troubled background that includes failed CNN and PBS programs.
What kind of audience demand will Carlson generate now, that he couldn't get before?
Jackson verdict, read just hours earlier.
Image from TV Newser.
I'm clearly not the only one wondering how he jumps to new networks and programs every time the last one bombs. Just check out what conservatives have to say on Free Republic's discussion boards, it isn't pretty.
When writing about Tucker previously, I noted his intelligence and superb writing talent, consistently thoughtful and well-reasoned.
On television, however, it's a different story. He's just never had the authoritative, commanding presence, necessary to be a credible host. Nor is he entertaining.
The New York Post's Adam Buckman challenged his thin skin for performance-related criticism:
WHEN I interviewed Tucker Carlson on the phone last week, I was fully dressed.
If this surprised him, he didn't let on. I expected him to be stunned. His opinion of TV critics is so low that he once described us, in a book he wrote, as "hack journalists who spend their days in a darkened room eating ice cream in their undershorts in front of the tube."
So what if we do? I wondered. What's it to him?
I'll tell you what the problem is, Mr. Buckman, it's that he can't handle the heat. Too bad it's not a good business for sensitive people.
There's really no reason to put him on television, save one: he's an ineffective, quasi-conservative placeholder that leftist news programmers can be sure won't threaten their media dominance.
Worse, Carlson and MSNBC honcho Rick Kaplan, took bad advice and made the new program, "The Situation" a mellow, non-confrontational, "talk lite" affair, where everybody gets their say, even if everyone else falls asleep.
Is it really because of Tucker's soul-searching over "Crossfire", that he felt was too nasty, or is it set up this way to protect him?
More suspicious is the addition of two sidekicks, one a liberal extremist and the other a fuzzy conservative, like Carlson. Sixteen people tested for the positions.
Air America host Rachel Maddow, who must have at least 12 or 13 listeners during her 5am-6am program, is the liberal, while (supposed) political consultant Jay Severin functions as the conservative.
Maddow, a lesbian activist from Castro Valley, Calif., grew up in the eighties around big-haired Motley Crue fans in bitchin' Camaros, while the East Bay community was still a blue-collar white enclave.
She was "out" before her classmates had any concept of the term.
Later, she was a Rhodes Scholar, strangely deciding to move into NPR radio production, an odd choice, given her educational background.
Not too many radio people, on or off-air, have doctorates from Oxford.
Of course, there's a good reason: higher education has no bearing on a person's ability to generate audience appeal. This is the entertainment business.
WTKK-FM's Severin, on the other hand, is a controversial figure in Boston radio circles, not for what he says on the air, but from where he's saying it: while never mentioned on-air, he actually broadcasts from home in enemy territory, New York's Long Island.
In Boston, that's unforgivable.
Recently, rival talker WRKO has been poking fun at this daily, dishonest omission of fact, in promotional advertising.
Severin often describes himself as a political consultant, but doubt has been cast on that, as well. Would he care to provide a recent list of clients? That would clear the confusion up in a jiffy.
Wouldn't it be more accurate to list Jay as a talk radio host? Is there some reason not to?
What, if anything, Maddow and Severin can offer Carlson is unclear.
In broadcasting, there's a term for this kind of program setup, it's called having a crutch (two of them here). It suggests the host can't carry the program alone.
To the Radio Equalizer, what sets off the alarm bells, is when early praise emerges from certain liberals, who feel Tucker is "raising the level of cable TV discourse", i.e., being boring.
They're the same sort of love letters Sen. McCain receives daily from the left.
Carlson received a gift from the heavens for his Monday evening debut, with the Jackson not-guilty verdict having been handed down just hours earlier.
Cable news channels, MSNBC included, had tremendous ratings spikes that hadn't even begun to calm down by the time his new program debuted.
You don't get better first-day luck than that and the ratings weren't half bad as a result. According to TV Newser:
The premiere of The Situation with Tucker Carlson averaged 177,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo that MSNBC covets. The show averaged 452,000 total viewers, compared to 1.7 million for CNN and FNC. But the show's ratings were up significantly from May 2005's 9pm averages for the network...
Not bad for the first night, but let's see where this goes in the next few weeks, when the summer doldrums are in full swing and there are no celebrity verdicts to provide ratings surges.
In the Radio Equalizer's view, the future of cable talk is in the high-energy, rough-around-the-edges displays from CNBC's Jim Cramer and Nancy Grace of Headline News, not CNN/PBS retreads like Carlson.
Update: Drudge says Carlson ratings down about 50% for second night of show:
CABLE NEWS RACE
FOX O'REILLY 2,722,000
FOX HAN/COLMES 2,016,000
FOX GRETA 1,864,000
FOX S SMITH 1,563,000
CNN LARRY KING 1,277,000
CNN AARON BROWN 751,000
CNN P ZAHN 718,000
CNN A COOPER 618,000
CNNHN N GRACE 583,000
MSNBC OLBERMANN 459,000
MSNBC HARDBALL 330,000
MSNBC SCARBOROUGH 325,000
MSNBC TUCKER CARLSON** 231,000
Drudge Report figures
Not a good showing, considering all of the recent promotional attention, plus no carryover benefit from Jackson ratings spike on Monday. Is a quick exit possible?