Alessandra Stanley is back, this time to eviscerate “talk show washout” Tucker Carlson and his still-new show “The Situation.” But, this time she happens to be mostly right: discussion on “The Situation” is “hurried and abrupt” and Tucker really does tend to dismiss debates with curt one-liners that often amount to cheap potshots. Rachel Maddow seriously has the patience of a saint. Stanley also says that MSNBC is where shows like this go to die, calling it “the River Styx of television talk shows” (where audiences tend to drink from the River Lethe after watching them).* She summary-judges that it’s “is all cross and no fire” and calls for MSNBC to “end the misery.” Ouch, but this is Alessandra Stanley.
This criticism is not new; “The Situation” – and Tucker – have taken their lumps – but come on, people, it’s been two weeks. Let the damn show find its voice. The format is new, and definitely needs to be tinkered with but there’s no reason why it can’t work. Excise the goofy references to the world’s biggest omelette (and the gratuitous pot-shots about which fat celebrity ordered it for breakfast) and focus on making good points about real stories, and teasing out the angles that everyone else has missed (case in point: Matt & Judy. TONS to talk about there, and last night’s segment on that was very good, with Rachel Maddow reminding us that the whole thing began with a specific and retributory leak from high up in the Bush administration and I even appreciated Jay Severin pointing out that Grand Jury inquiries have a purpose, too). It can be done; you and Rick Kaplan just have to figure out how (btw bloggers do it all the time; pith is their bread and butter). So no one’s watching; who cares, that gives you even more freedom to tinker. Make it good, then people will come back. But yeah, Tucker, it’s not only the show that needs to change. You really do need to stop being such a weenie. And that “if my bowtie’s casually untied around my neck it must mean it’s the end of the show” is pretentious and grating. Lose it.
*If this were Slate I’d helpfully include a link so you all could learn from my arcane allusion. But, not only do I assume that you’re all quite smart, I also figure you’re at least smart enough to Google. I just don’t presume that you need to.