The word on the lesbian cable news street is
that left-leaning Rosie O’Donnell is in discussions to join MSNBC
for a nightly news show.
Nothing is final, but I’ll
wager that if execs are talking to the New York Times, it’s
all but decided. And in retrospect, it makes a lot of sense that Rosie
would find another forum for her liberal lectures following her yearlong
stint on The View, during which she regularly dissed President
Bush, dished on 9/11 conspiracy theories and lengthily discussed gay
UPDATE: [Nov. 8] The MSNBC deal appears to be off. The New York Times has the story here and here.
She regularly updates her blog
with entry after nigh-indecipherable entry about news items, including
the presidential administration run amok, the war in Iraq and the Israel-Palestine
conflict, among other current topics. And if you’ll recall, the last
few years of The Rosie O’Donnell Show were a train wreck of
emotional outbursts about gun control and foster care.
A prime-time news show would certainly
make complete her transition from Broadway-loving Queen of Nice to Phil
Donahue (or is that Marlo Thomas?) for the new millennium, but I worry.
What happens when the girthy gabber goes head to talking head against
Republicans who are smarter than her View foil Elizabeth Hasselbeck
(not a difficult hurdle to jump)?
If history is any guide, her
emotional and visceral reactions will provide endless grist for the
mill that is Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the Fox News hacks, as
well as every other right-wing hater. (I wouldn’t be surprised if
O’Reilly dedicates a regular segment to debunking anything that comes
out of her mouth.)
I also worry that when the going
gets personal, she’ll give up, as she did with her recent publicity
tour in support of her book Celebrity Detox.
The normally outspoken O’Donnell canceled her scheduled media appearances, saying that she was “not ready to discuss
or defend” the book and that her emotions were still “too raw.”
If that’s the case for a book
written months prior, what about when she’s confronted directly? Will
she walk off the set? Quit the show, a la The View? The established
news show format dictates split screens and shouting, not to mention
in-ear advice and a rigorous nightly schedule — and it doesn’t allow
for audience participation and giveaways, Rosie’s bread and butter.
But because I’m a hopeless,
helpless, huge fan of strong women who speak their minds, I can’t
help but want her to succeed. And maybe, because it’ll be her show
on her terms, she will find satisfaction. She’d certainly be in the company of
other liberal hosts
(talk is that she’d take over the 9 p.m. slot following sharpshooter
Keith Olbermann’s nightly Bush smackdown), and the flagging channel
could definitely use the ratings goose she’d no doubt provide (though
whether they’d retain any journalistic credibility by hiring a decoupager
who hangs upside down for a mood boost remains to be seen).
She might not be the most respected
name in news, but Rosie is one of the only out lesbians speaking up
for issues that matter to us, and for that she deserves our support.
Whether you think she’s a blowhard or a voice for the underrepresented
masses, I’ll bet you at least acknowledge the importance of visibility.
But it’s not all settled, and
the fat lady herself has yet to sing. Perhaps she will divulge a few
details during her show tonight at the New York Comedy Festival (she
kicks off the event with an evening of stand-up). Stay tuned.