Re­cruit­ing Rosie: An­other bad move from NBC

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Bill O’Reilly

What are we to make of the fact that NBC News wanted to hire Rosie O’Don­nell as a show host? Was Hugo Chavez not avail­able? What the heck is go­ing on?

The na­tional news net­work that once brought you Hunt­ley and Brink­ley, John Chan­cel­lor, and Tom Brokaw ap­par­ently wanted to give Ms. O’Don­nell a daily pro­gram on MSNBC, which, in more than 11 years on the air, has not de­vel­oped one widely watched news pro­gram. Not one.

In the round-the-clock Nielsen rat­ings for Oc­to­ber, the latest sur­vey, MSNBC av­er­aged a pal­try 278,000 view­ers per hour. That’s down 7 per­cent from Oc­to­ber ‘06. By con­trast, Fox News about tripled that de­liv­ery; CNN dou­bled it.

Thus, in des­per­a­tion, NBC News turned to Ms. O’Don­nell, a wo­man who as­serts that the U.S. mil­i­tary has killed more than 650,000 Iraqi cit­i­zens, claims that 9/11 was an inside job and opines that evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians are just as threat­en­ing as al Qaida. Pag­ing Tim Russert! What is in­ter­est­ing here is that Ms. O’Don­nell’s de­par­ture from ABC’s “The View” has not hurt that pro­gram at all. In fact, rat­ings for “The View” with Whoopi Gold­berg this Oc­to­ber were 9 per­cent higher than they were last Oc­to­ber when Rosie presided.

But NBC News didn’t seem to care. Move over Brian Wil­liams, Rosie O’Don­nell could have been the new sher­iff in town, if only the terms had been worked out. Why they were not re­mains a mys­tery.

But the in­ter­est was there, and in that spirit, I’d like to pro­pose some other NBC moves be­cause the net­work’s en­ter­tain­ment pro­gram­ming is down the drain as well. Let’s take a meet­ing and dis­cuss the fol­low­ing:

“Danc­ing with the Pan­thers.” A one-hour dance show fea­tur­ing Tina Fey and Alec Bald­win cut­ting some rug with mem­bers of the New Black Pan­ther Party. Power salutes all around.

“CSI: Ha­vana.” Fidel and Raul Cas­tro head an elite squad that tracks down own­ers of private prop­erty on the is­land na­tion. Mu­cho anti-Bush di­a­logue will be in­cor­po­rated into the pro­gram, which will also star Michael Moore as the Cuban Health Min­is­ter.

“Wel­come Back, Ah­madine­jad.” The zany Ira­nian pres­i­dent re­turns to Columbia Univer­sity to teach a course on In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions. Lec­tures on driv­ing the Jews into the sea and the ab­sence of gay peo­ple in Per­sia will be front and cen­ter.

“Code Pink Knows Best.” Cindy Shee­han stars as a wo­man elected pres­i­dent of the United States on the third party “KoolAid” ticket. Her first ac­tions are dis­solv­ing the mil­i­tary and giv­ing Uday and Qusay Hus­sein the Medal of Free­dom, posthu­mously, of course.

“Are You Smarter Than Al Gore?” A quiz pro­gram with a global warm­ing theme. Sam­ple ques­tion: If a po­lar bear is forced to leave Bar­row, Alaska, be­cause of melt­ing ice­bergs, and that bear can travel 7 mph, how long will it take him to reach San Fran­cisco?

That kind of prime-time lineup will syn­er­gize per­fectly with the new im­age of NBC News. In fact, if NBC re­vives talks with Rosie, she could ac­tively pro­mote the new lineup from her daily news perch.

Re­mem­ber, where there’s a will, there’s a way! NBC News and Rosie O’Don­nell, per­fect to­gether.

Bill O’Reilly is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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