ABC’s ‘This Week’ (American Idol Style)

We continue our American Idol-esque critiques of ABC ‘This Week’ hosts. Our panel of judges now includes Anonymous Judge, who is a political journalist in D.C. — we’ll leave it at that (the person wants to keep his/her day job). The fill-in host this week is Elizabeth Vargas, who regularly appears on 20/20.

HuffPost’s Jason Linkins (editor of “Eat the Press”): Hi, Elizabeth Vargas! I understand that you are not really vying for host of ‘This Week’. You should ask yourself why that is. I mean, why not you? Can you tell me that? But look, I guess it’s really hard to get too invested, knowing this isn’t going anywhere. On the actual “American Idol”, everyone is asked why they are doing it, they all say, “Oh, because I am going to be the next American Idol, most definitely, so prepare for maximum swooning!” They do not say, “Oh, I am here because I hear you all have a really great craft services table!” You sort of feel like that.

So, you interviewed Nancy Pelosi! How nice for you! And it was really good up until the end. And then, the end came, and it was not good. “How would you grade yourself?” You realize that this is ABC News interviewing the Speaker of the House. This is not you giving a performance review to the fresh faced college kid who’s been serving as the office manager of your west side branch. And then you let Pelosi end things with one of her monologues of bromides! ABC won’t get that time back.

(Read more Linkins after the jump…)

Examiner’s Yeas & Nays Columnists Tara Palmeri and Nikki Schwab: Elizabeth Vargas, you’re a firecracker on the Sunday spot. You bring the drama of a nightly newsmagazine with your hard-hitting questions and quick follow-ups. You controlled the anchor spot like a ping-pong champ, and your news babe charm adds flair to the stodgy mix. During the first segment, you handled Pelosi’s non-answers pretty well. You were quick with followups and at least you didn’t get bulldozed. Thankfully Pelosi is no Ahhhnold.

On a down note, you lost control of the panel. Panelists controlled the conversation and you often chimed in as a panelist not as a moderator. All in all, we’re not convinced that you dazzled on ‘This Week’, ’20/20′ seems more your style.

Carol Joynt (New York Social Diary and former producer of ‘This Week’): Elizabeth, you were experienced, polished and affable and clearly did your homework. But whenever an interview is produced on a “set,” artifice is part of the equation. Add political agenda and it’s more than half. Rather than buff up with hair, make-up and serious suits in a staged Hill office, I wanted you to drag Pelosi out of the office and get down. Imagine if you two dressed casual, walked the C&O Canal or the Mall, maybe sat on a park bench. One camera. Intimacy. “Nancy, are you enjoying this job?” “Nancy, do you feel like a hamster on a wheel?” “Nancy, what keeps you awake at night?” I was eager for you to make the interview your own, to cut through Pelosi’s palaver.

(Read more Joynt after the jump…)

Anonymous Judge: Longtime fan. First-time reviewer. First off, I think it would be great to have a woman calling the shots on “This Week.” You didn’t close the deal on Sunday, but you didn’t blow it, either. Your interview with Pelosi had its ups and downs. The good news: Your questions triggered answers that made headlines, such as Pelosi saying the Tea Party has some things in common with Democrats. You also got her to say that Rep. Charles Rangel’s ethics admonishment was “not good.”

Bad news: You spent too much time pressing Pelosi on whether she is going to have the votes to pass health reform. What did you expect her to say? “Between you and me, Elizabeth, I’m down about 50 votes and I think this is going to be complete catastrophe.”

(More Anonymous Judge after the jump…)

Linkins: But the panel was fun, right! I mean, no biggie if Sam Donaldson’s gonna act all crazy and George Will makes a strange pronouncement about how in the year 3121 we will have higher health care costs, don’t you agree Paul Krugman? And Krugman is trying to get his head around the flying car his cryogenically-preserved head will be darting around in?

It was all well until the terrible question about the White House Social Secretary, Desirae What’s-her-name, who failed to kill the Salahis with her laser eyes and so: SCANDAL! Seriously, I could not BELIEVE Cokie Roberts had that much word-diarrhea to expel on this topic. And you just straight-up let her run with it, for some reason! And it made Paul Krugman even saddened that he was, contemplating the flying car that we STILL DON’T MAKE.

Anyway, I hope the craft services table was awesome, Elizabeth!

Joynt: Think about breaking the Sunday show mold, as David Brinkley did for “This Week” and Russert did for “Meet the Press.” The producers are too stuck in a rut to shake it up. You and the other contestants have to bring it on. Just for fun, ask yourself: what would James Carville do? As for the round table, which should rock the whole show, it sadly came down to Paul Krugman’s bored expression: “What am I doing here? Oh, that’s right. They’re paying me.”

Anonymous Judge: I liked the question on what Pelosi what grade she would give herself, but you let her off the hook with “an A for effort.” Your interview with Sen. Lamar Alexander was flat and didn’t break any new ground. You finished strong — The roundtable discussion was lively and you seemed at ease directing the conversation. All in all, you deserve to come back for another week. But you’ll have to show us more to win the ultimate prize.

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