As Ed Morrissey of Hot Air wrote yesterday there has been plenty of speculation that Fox News might pursue Keith Olbermann to add a real liberal voice to the conservative network. But Morrissey rightly notes that Fox News chief Roger Ailes is actually far more interested in a bigger marquee name should the opportunity arise in none other than Bill Clinton.
Ailes told Esquire magazine in a recent interview when asked about Clinton:
Well, I talked to him. The problem with Bill is he won’t be as good on a talk show as you’d think. Because, first of all, he never shuts up. I mean he cannot hit time cues. But I went up to Harlem, I met with him for an hour, an hour and a half, I asked him to do a special, which he’s still thinking about. I’d like to have it; I’d like to have him do a special for us. The problem with him in a talk-show mode is not that he’s not charming, good, smart, and glib. He is. But he loves to talk about policy. He’s actually a policy wonk. So if you really want eighteen minutes on ethanol, he’ll give it to you. But it won’t get ratings. So you have to be able to produce him and say, “Most people are not that interested in ethanol, Mr. President. What we’d like you to talk about is this.” And if he would stick with current affairs and stick with the clock, he’d be one of the great talk-show people in the world.
The opposite might be said of Olbermann whom even conservatives have to admit is a television pro and attracted a large audience for MSNBC.
What is more plausible though is a CNN-Olbermann hookup.
Olbermann was distant but solid second to BIll O’Reilly in the 8 p.m. slot and CNN is languishing with its moribund Parker Spitzer show.
CNN doesn’t really have a lot of options in this slot at the moment. Rumors have been floating around for months that Parker wants out and based on her performance to date the shows ratings might actually improve if she departed. But that leaves CNN with the Spitzer problem. The former New York governor seems very comfortable in his role but the network has come under heavy criticism for hiring him after he left office when it was revealed that he was a client of a high-end prostitution ring. This was even too much for many in the liberal media to condone and yet there was CNN giving the governor a chance to redeem himself.
But hiring Olbermann would only confuse matters at CNN. After all the network has been publicly declaring that they aren’t left or right but somewhere in the middle and Olbermann is definitely not in the middle politically.
Yet despite the identity crisis at CNN the thought of hiring Olbermann and his potential 1 million viewers must be very tempting when Parker Spitzer routinely attracts fewer than 400,000.
All the speculation as to whether Fox or CNN are interested in Olbermann may be for naught since it is believed that his separation agreement prevents him from doing television for several months or until the expiration of his contract in 2012. By that time he may be a forgotten man.