Recruiting Rosie: Another bad move from NBC
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.