The New York Times is reporting that MSNBC might be headed in a more progressive direction. It's about damn time. Sixty percent of the country has been waiting for this for about ten years. Thank God, Olbermann snuck past the old guard and helped to change the face of television.
The next issue is who do they hire? Press reports say it might be Rosie O'Donnell. To say that I am equivocal about that is a significant understatement. Rosie was great in challenging conventional wisdom on the war and many other issues when she was on "The View." So, God bless her for that.
But, on the other hand, I'm not sure she is really the spokesperson for the level-headed, ultra-knowledgeable, progressive voice in the country. There is the 9/11 conspiracy stuff that no mainstream progressive believes in. And her style is not exactly cool-headed. Do we really want Rosie representing our point of view?
I feel really bad in even bringing any of this up because she has at times fought the good fight when almost no one else on television would. It's not that I don't appreciate her contribution to the conversation; it's that the next progressive host on cable news has to be good -- really, really good.
We need someone who is going to be smart, on top of the news and beyond reproach. And someone who we know can handle the position - and bring in good ratings in this format.
I would love to say that the right person for the job is one of the progressives I know either at Air America or in the liberal blogosphere. And all of these people are incredibly capable and would do a terrific job if given the opportunity (Rachel Maddow, Sam Seder, Thom Hartmann, among many others, come to mind (maybe even a non-hosts like Josh Marshall or Jane Hamsher)).
I'm also tempted to nominate Jack Cafferty as a possibility, even though he is not a progressive, because he has so clearly taken on the Bush administration in a sane and rational way for the last couple of years.
But ultimately, I think MSNBC already has their man. MSNBC correspondent, David Shuster. He is obviously bright, completely versed on the facts, up on the news and capable of bringing a centrist, sensible point of view to MSNBC.
He has been terrific the few times he has filled in for other hosts. He's already in house. I would imagine he'll cost a lot less than a big name host like Rosie O'Donnell. It's my belief that he would be a voice of sanity on air and a good fit for the network.
In the interest of full disclosure, I moderated a panel that Shuster was on earlier this year, but I don't know him personally at all and I'm not sure that we talked more than a minute outside of that panel.
I have no vested interest in him getting the job. In fact, I hope my agent is busy lobbying for me instead. But this moment is much larger than any one person. After so many years of a conservative monopoly on the television airwaves, the next non-conservative chosen for a host position on cable news is up for a tremendously important position.
If there are two successful non-conservatives on the airwaves, there will likely be ten more. We need this to be a trend, and not a temporary effort that is thwarted by an unwise or unrepresentative choice.
There is no way I can be sure that Shuster is absolutely the right person for the job or even shares most of my views. I am judging him just on the few appearances I have seen. But based on how he has performed as a host and correspondent before, I have hope that he could be the person that can do the job -- and do it right.