Lou Dobbs Talks (And Talks, And Talks…) Punditry And A 2012 Run In GQ Profile

Here’s a blast from the past, in cable news time: former CNN anchor and current radio host Lou Dobbs has inexplicably popped up in an extensive 6-page profile in GQ, railing against bad grammar, illegal immigrants, potholes and stopping his endless ranting for a few seconds to suggest he is running for president in 2012.

Author Jeanne Marie Laskas goes through great lengths to present to us “the other side” of cranky old “Mr. Independent,” visiting his home, meeting his family, and spending some quality time with him. She notes that she is mystified by the way the left has demonized him when, in fact, Dobbs spends just as much time complaining about the right as he does about the left. More to the point, Dobbs will complain about anything and everything that is presented to him. The article opens with an apt metaphor for his brand of punditry: a tirade on good grammar in which, ironically, Dobbs makes a major grammatical error.  “You wouldn’t say, ‘I feel goodly’ or ‘I feel happily.’ So why do so many people say, ‘I feel badly’?” he asks.*

“It goes on like this. Hours and hours like this. Days like this,” Laskas laments. She tries to “fix” him by challenging his views on everything, especially illegal immigration, but he doesn’t budge. As she notes, he’s heard it all before. Even in the most trying times of her interview, though, she tries to be optimistic about the inner Dobbs that the bloviating radio host continually dwarfs, and in doing so she gets at the core of Dobbs’ problematic personality: he has a serious lack of charisma in an entertainment realm where charisma alone sells.

Describing his radio show– two hours of “Good Lord”s and “By God”s occassionally interrupted by political topics–Laskas confesses:

I can’t even listen to that Lou, not for very long. I can’t listen to him cheer the oncoming East Coast blizzard as evidence that Al Gore is a blubbering fool. Radio Lou, to me, becomes a dull hum, like so many other dull hums—not nearly as frightening as [Glenn] Beck or as deranged as [Rush] Limbaugh or as egomaniacal as [Bill] O’Reilly, but among the same chorus.

[...]

He’s Mike Huckabee without all the God; he’s Bob Dole after the 1996 campaign. (He could tell jokes!) He’s Ronald Reagan with a reachable heart. And yet affable suggests he works at it, a glad-handing smiling salesman with some charm offensive.

He somehow manages to have every quality a successful pundit needs– knowledge, experience, anger, et al– without any of the charm. There’s no Beckian twinkle in his eye or, on his radio show, mischief in his voice. There’s no unintentionally comical delusion (it’s not funny when he does it). There’s no endearing quirk in his dogma. In fact, using the term “rant” is slightly biased to his favor; Dobbs doesn’t rant– he drones.

And this is precisely why no one ever quite gets around to hating him. If you’re liberal, you have a laundry list of bigger fish to fry. If you’re a conservative, you probably don’t remember his outrageous vacations to Cuba in the ‘90s when he was imploring the Clinton administration to negotiate with a tyrannous regime. He his ability to inspire apathy is bipartisan.

And bipartisanship may be exactly what Dobbs is setting out to foster. It appears he is not exclusively interested in being seen as a fascinating media personality, which would be a good thing for him since “fascinating” is a far cry from what he has become. In fact, being a fascinating media personality is probably detrimental to his actual aspirations: running for President. He continues to play the “neither confirm nor deny” game in various intensities within the interview as Laskas tries to catch him by surprise– in the car, at home, during dinner. Although she fails to get a definite yes or no, Laskas gets close enough to breathlessly concluded “Oh my God—you’re running for President.”

With all the speculation surrounding a possible run against New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, the presidency rumors add a new layer to the Dobbs persona– one that would fall within the context of national players like Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, or Mike Huckabee. Sure, alone Dobbs is the media equivalent of watching paint dry while being nagged to take out the trash by your mother. But surrounded by larger-than-life characters, some of which rely on the false belief that they, too, have charisma, Dobbs could be a game-changer for entertainers looking for a political laugh– a solid replacement for 2008 candidate Fred Thompson. Maybe a presidential run is precisely what Dobbs needs to find a likable identity.

*(People don’t say “I feel goodly” because “goodly” is not a word. They say “I feel well.” Conversely, they can also say “I feel badly” when they wish to modify the word “feel,” and not the pronoun. “Happily” rarely modifies “feel” because when modified it usually refers to health and not mood.)


Rick Sanchez, Envy Of Many Hairless Men, Reveals His Secret Bald Spot

Yesterday I praised Rick Sanchez for making a serious contribution to cable news by calling out a Tea Party leader who had made racist statements about Latin Americans and then blamed his racism on the Bee Gees. Today he follows up that performance by showing off his bald spot on air.

You’ve got to give Rick’s List credit for something: you never know quite what you’re going to get with this show. In a segment about a possible genetic find that could help bald men remedy follicular deficiencies, senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen went to the CNN hair and make-up room to find some male hair models. Sanchez, inspired by the variation in hair thickness, showed off his barely-visible bald spot, too. The completely bald model, a CNN employee named Nathan, was not amused.

Video below:


John King, USA Reaches New Low Tuesday Night

Cable news ratings, April 13, 2010: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

John King’s new 7pmET show John King, USA is off to a slow start for CNN, but Tuesday night it reached a new low. With just 391,000 total viewers, it was the first time the program dipped below the 400,000 viewer mark. It was fourth in the hour, and CNN’s lowest hour from 5-11pmET.

• The top cable news show was Bill O’Reilly’s in both categories – and his 11pmET repeat was #2 in the demo.

• The #1 non-FNC cable news show was Rachel Maddow’s in both categories.

Check out all the ratings below, and leave your own thoughts in the comments:

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm

Beck

552

Blitzer

99

Matthews

86

Showbiz

72

6 pm

Baier

377

Blitzer

112

Ed Show

132

Prime

99

7 pm

Shep

418

King, USA

89

Matthews

190

Issues

182

8 pm

O’Reilly

868

Brown

135

Olbermann

293

Grace

271

9 pm

Hannity

453

King

130

Maddow

320

Behar

139

10 pm

Greta

428

Cooper

137

Olbermann

235

Grace

244

11 pm

O’Reilly

570

Cooper

110

Maddow

153

Showbiz

142

TOTAL DAY 310 106 128 129
PRIME TIME 583 134 283 216
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm

Beck

2170

Blitzer

434

Matthews

477

Showbiz

192

6 pm

Baier

2038

Blitzer

499

Ed Show

609

Prime

175

7 pm

Shep

1776

King, USA

391

Matthews

633

Issues

466

8 pm

O’Reilly

3158

Brown

397

Olbermann

1031

Grace

753

9 pm

Hannity

1881

King

576

Maddow

1164

Behar

564

10 pm

Greta

1767

Cooper

667

Olbermann

803

Grace

697

11 pm

O’Reilly

1496

Cooper

337

Maddow

431

Showbiz

318

TOTAL DAY 1172 352 428 295
PRIME TIME 2269 547 999 663
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.


Olbermann’s Repeat Demo Ratings Top All Non-FNC Cable News Monday

Cable news ratings, April 12, 2010: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

Keith Olbermann’s Countdown was the top non-FNC show on cable news Monday night – but not the live show at 8pmET. His 10pmET repeat just edged Rachel Maddow the hour before (which had the top non-FNC show in total viewers). The reason? Maybe that Twitter announcement.

• The top shows on cable news were all Fox News prime time programs: Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren.

Check out all the ratings below, and leave your own thoughts in the comments:

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm

Beck

509

Blitzer

88

Matthews

127

Showbiz

81

6 pm

Baier

359

Blitzer

98

Ed Show

181

Prime

117

7 pm

Shep

379

King, USA

108

Matthews

198

Issues

148

8 pm

O’Reilly

793

Brown

104

Olbermann

278

Grace

202

9 pm

Hannity

557

King

86

Maddow

285

Behar

95

10 pm

Greta

554

Cooper

179

Olbermann

297

Grace

131

11 pm

O’Reilly

460

Cooper

122

Maddow

210

Showbiz

123

TOTAL DAY 300 100 138 125
PRIME TIME 635 123 286 141
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm

Beck

2009

Blitzer

425

Matthews

552

Showbiz

224

6 pm

Baier

1889

Blitzer

431

Ed Show

651

Prime

230

7 pm

Shep

1511

King, USA

428

Matthews

755

Issues

320

8 pm

O’Reilly

3147

Brown

407

Olbermann

1070

Grace

541

9 pm

Hannity

2123

King

433

Maddow

1073

Behar

496

10 pm

Greta

2059

Cooper

630

Olbermann

804

Grace

365

11 pm

O’Reilly

1547

Cooper

332

Maddow

503

Showbiz

261

TOTAL DAY 1131 367 426 268
PRIME TIME 2443 490 982 460
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.


“Quasi-Respected Journalist” Anderson Cooper Keeps Chelsea Handler Honest

CNN was all about the comedians in prime time last night, with Larry King’s George Lopez interview, but also with Anderson Cooper’s “360 Big Interview” of Chelsea Handler (host of Chelsea Lately).

They talked Conan O’Brien, Heidi and Spencer and joked about Cooper’s “quasi” journalistic qualities. But what can interviews like this tell about Cooper role?

The interview kicked off with the Conan to TBS news, which Handler called “a surprise.” “The more people in the 11 o’clock timeslot the better,” said Handler, joking about basic cable, “It doesn’t get a lot worse than this, so just enjoy the road to the middle.”

Cooper also showed his reality TV chops, discussing Bret Michaels and Rock Of Love:

Handler: Are you a fan?
Cooper: I must say I’ve watched a couple. I like it when he would hand out to the passes to the backstage, that was his sign that you’d stay on for another week. You’d stuck your tongue down his throat enough that you could actually be voted on the next week.

That was where the CNN embedded video ended (below), but Handler was back for a second segment as well, with a lightning round of even less newsy topics. When asked if she’d go hang out with Heidi and Spence from The Hills on a desert island for one million dollars, she declined, but Cooper wasn’t sure for himself. “You can’t do that,” Handler told him. “No, you are as quasi-respected journalist, and you might want to keep it that way.”

“I appreciate the quasi,” said Cooper laughing. “You threw me that bone.”

Look, this isn’t about Cooper being a “quasi-respected journalist” – his work in Haiti and even the majority of last night’s show prove he is very much a journalist. But this lighter fare during prime time gets juxtaposed with yesterday’s quasi-upfront for CNN touting all the journalism taking place on the network, putting themselves in a “category of one.” Still, it is this type of interview that continually raise questions about what exactly Cooper wants to do with his career at CNN, as the first of his live audience specials is filmed tonight.

He can do both – but joking about Speidi is a far cry from the more serious subject his program often focuses on.

Here’s part of last night’s Handler interview:

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George Lopez On Working With Conan: “These Shows Will Change Late-Night TV”

George Lopez paid Larry King a visit last night to chat about his new colleague, Conan O’Brien, and how he could not be happier welcoming O’Brien to TBS, even if it meant him moving up to midnight to make room. The main theme of the conversation, Lopez wanted something to be extremely clear about that move: O’Brien “did not want me to get Leno’d.”

Lopez continued to sell his partnership with O’Brien as he did on his program last night– a “same-sex Lucy and Ricky” that will “change late-night TV”– and noted that the network will try to keep O’Brien in California so that it would be easier for him to interact with Lopez, maybe even having one host visit the other’s set occasionally. This was particularly exciting to Lopez, who noted that he believed “the system of the network talk show is a little bit outdated.”

Lopez confirms most reports of the negotiations involving him between his company and O’Brien: he was approached by a network executive and asked his opinion about the move and, when giving the affirmative, was asked to call O’Brien and confirm with him that the move was ok. According to Lopez, there were only two things O’Brien was after: “the freedom of doing a show that was edgy,” and the certainty that “he wasn’t going to do to [Lopez] what was done to him.”

As for what the change meant to Lopez’s immediate life, he joked: “my profile has changed in a day– no longer do I get confused for being Erik Estrada.”

Watch the interview below:


The Daily Obsession: Supreme Speculation

With John Paul Stevens announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court, cable news pundits (and Jimmy Fallon!) let their inner “constitutional law nerd” out to play the name game yesterday with potential nominees. While, largely due to Sen. Orrin Hatch, Hillary Clinton took the lion’s share of speculation, other names thrown around include Sarah Palin and the “Quaker Oats guy.”

 

Here’s Newsweek’s Daily Obsession: