Monday, June 16, 2008

Replacing Tim Russert

(this is cross posted: I originally wrote it as a reply to someone's livejournal post)

Olberman to replace Russert? No. I love Olberman, but I hate him. Yes, he's on my side, but he's too much like Bill O'Reily. If I hate O'Reily's tactics I can't like them when Keith uses them just because I agree with him on most issues.

The Daily News today was promoting Dick Gregory and I think that would be a good choice but maybe too safe. The News said you couldn't use Chris Mathews or Olberman because they are to polemical. I agree about Olberman but not about Mathews, whom I think has a simlar doggedness to his questioning (though whereas Russert could be compared to a Lab Mathews is more of a terrier). Personally, though I expect them to alternate anchors for a while, I'd like to see Brokaw do it for two awhile (maybe as long as a year) while they get through the grieving process they are obviously going through and then make a new hire. He might even do it indefinitely.

Here's two possibilities that I think should be considered along with Mathews, on from outside NBC (at least currently) and one from inside. Gwen Ifil has experience on MTP, having worked for Russert before going on to anchor The News Hour. She might be enticed back for the right package. Having gone from MTP to the News Hour of PBS marks her as a respectable journalist. As a woman of color she would offer a new dimension to MTP which, while taking it in a different direction from Russert and his all-Amkerican working class Irish Catholic former democratic staffer north-East liberal persona (this runs the risk, however, of making MTP look mroe elitist than it already is) (Mathews, by the way, has similar roots to Russert's). ON the other end of the spectrum, and a riskier choice from the current NBC talent pool that would really pay off, would be to give the show to Joe Scarborough. While he is happily ensconced as MSNBC's morning anchor he might go to the most prestigious news chair in the country if it were offered. Scarborough has real baggage, having been a strident conservative talk-show host in the Limbaugh/Hannity mold, but he always had a touch of dignity and of class that those two lack. As a Republican and a former congressman from the Gingrich Revolution, he would definitely silence some critics who say the Sunday morning talk shows are too liberal. And I think he'd make an excellent interviewer. He would be fair to all comers but tough. Scarborough has a definite streak of toughness to him. And, much like Russert, Scarborough has a working class, family values, plain folks sort of appeal while also having the insights of a well-connected political insider.

You read it here first.


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