Monday, March 10, 2008

BACKGROUND: “Tucker” Cancelled or “Old Yellerbelly Put Out Of His Misery

That Tousled, Empty Head Rolls At Last...

God...90 days never seemed so long...

Our long, national nightmare that is the execrable, “nails-on-a-chalkboard-piped-through-a-speaker-punctured-P.A. system” “Tucker” show is nearing its end.


Needless to say, the members of the MSNBC He-Man Woman Haters Club are NOT happy with seeing their little mascot Tucky about to be wished into the cornfield. The slimy Joe Scarborough is supposedly all pissy about it, and the pan-faced lout Chris Matthews is openly angry about it, as it indicates a further shift from his “Playboy Club—but no icky girllllz unless they're in bunny suits!” idea of a network.


This should be fun to that fucked-up, “voted-off-the-island” reality-TV kind of way. I just wonder where Tucky's gonna land next? Dancin' on “Soul Train” and workin; the scramble board? Naaaaaah, they finally cancelled ST a couple of years ago. Somewhere on FOX? Sadly, he's so shitty I don't think even they would have him. That game show pilot? Yeah, but only if it's called “Let's Dunk The Jerk”, and Carlson sits over the tank.

The time just...seemed to drag by, like a lame, mange-eaten, feral dog in the heat. Ugh.

And in a final bit of mini-analysis, the Tucker Carlson death-watch gets a little more noticeable. I couldn't help but notice a definite shifting of things at MSNBC in the last ten days of the heavy primary coverage. If you watched you probably caught it too. On the primary nights, Rachel Maddow (who I still have a crush on, as does my stepson now) was featured as an in-studio guest on the panel discussions—NOT TUCKER. She sat there in the comfy, cozy studio with their big guns like Chris Cilizza and Howard Fineman and Pat Buchanan while Tucker was on the chilly-ass road as a stringer. On the night of the Iowa Caucus, he reported from New Hampshire, where nobody but three flinty old guys in Carharrt jackets were. It was the equivalent of a report on the Iditarod where an exciting, key stage just ended and you toss to the finish line for a report...where nobody fucking is. Maddow was in-studio, piquant and buffing her star as Tucky tried to unfreeze his smirk in the chill New England air. She easily topped him that night with an airtime ratio of 10-to-1.

Which is amazing as he's a network show host. Pretty damning.

In the days between Iowa and NH, they featured her even more on the big stage, showing up on all of the net's shows—save for his, and I couldn't help noticing in their promos for “Super Tuesday” coverage their usual wall of photos of correspondents featured Olbermann, Matthews, Mitchell, Shuster, O'Donnell, Scarborough, Lester Holt and even Dan Abrams...but no Tucky.

Come Tuesday night, there's Rachel again, resplendent in-studio and on for hours (including a zesty evisceration of Matthews) and on the road with a speech-stumbling John McCain was Tucker Carlson, effectively reduced to stringer status like the net's lesser lights Ron Mott, Ron Allen, Mike Taibbi and others who stand in the rain for on-scene “stand-ups”.

That's a serious bust-down in status—not to mention that his show was pre-empted on Tuesday for more pre-election coverage by... in-studio Olberman.

They wouldn't even let him do his miserable little show from the Straight Talk Express's toilet, where I'm guessing he was ensconced crying his puffy little eyes out.

Suffer the smarmy, two-left-footed little children.

If you had any doubt about the network's knowing where the weakest link (as Matthews ain't exactly iron-tough himself and is weak himself numbers-wise) link in their chain is, let that doubt be confirmed with their rather brusque curb-kickage of Carlson—a supposed “Village” insider for now ubiquitous presence of the fresh-faced Maddow.

His “glove” ain't good enough to carry his anemic bat on the bench any longer. He knows it—and it showed in his lifeless performances in his limited appearance time.

The signs were all there. The Maddow pilot. The creeping quality-level anorexia of his show's guest gets, and most recently, a certain pity being taken by his fellow nut-clutching on-air buddies Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough where they clumsily crammed him into “charity” slots on their shows and practically rubbed his belly with “Will you come on tomorrow?” coos of solidarity”.

MSNBC's little crew of pig-tail pullers is minus one in the host's chair as they haven't outright fired Tucky, but rather—busted him down to a permanent status as a campaign “stringer” as noted in my earlier post shown above. Going from the cushy, prestige position of holding a host's chair to watching the flapjack flips in every one-horse town on the trail is a brutal diss indeed, but my sources tell me that his friends fought for him to be extended some dignity and be spared an ugly, outright firing.

He'll supposedly finish out the week in-studio before having to drag out the dopp kit and travel-sized Mennen Speed Stick™ for the rigors of the road and then be “replaced” as it were by the affable (in comparison), but wooden David Gregory—the net's main White House correspondent in a temporary election season program/spot-holder entitled Race For The White House. It's part of a long-rumored re-shuffling of the net's schedule where Keith Olbermann now gets a moved-up 10 p.m. rerun of “Countdown” instead of the midnight repeat, and a 2 a.m. third run, further establishing him as MSNBC's clear “horse”.

Gregory is not their first choice for the 6 p.m. slot in lieu of Carlson. It's doubtful he'll move the numbers much, but he is a team player with choice “Hill” contacts and access to high-place guest “gets”. He's a fort-holder until the campaign season ends. It is apparent that worried network brass didn't want to go for the big move yet of plugging Rachel Maddow into that spot at so key a time in the campaign season, but she is on stand-by and plays much better than Carlson and Gregory to the desired demographic. She's been on the net every weekday night for the last month it seems as a guest of Olbermann's (a tough haul as her radio show ended at 8.p.m., giving her about seven minutes for the limo trek from Air America's studio cross and up-town to NBC's 30 Rock soundstages) or Dan Abrams, although said Olbermann ubiquitousness will be stalled a bit with the as-of-today extension of her radio program to the 9 p.m. hour—ironically enough, a by product of increased radio interest in her thanks to her piquant TV appearances.

The word is that the “boys club” (which Olbermann sits outside of) fought hard against Maddow's installation under the guise of a seasoned Hill and political vet getting the slot for now as the campaign season takes on added drama. Were it not for the “pimping” gaffe, the spot may have gone to the younger (and better demographic-ed) David Shuster, instead of the overworked and under-timed Gregory, but alas...

Maddow will still be a presence on the net with her post-election analysis and fun and snappy repartee with the likes of her counter-balance/foil Pat Buchanan, and should her stock continue to rise as it has, we may yet see her in a vehicle of her own—if not a daily, then a weekly turn. Stay tuned for details.

But...this is a day to mourn Tucker, who I have referred to before as TV punditry's Ted McGinley—a personality fated to send any show he's featured on to a cathode-ray tube littered grave. Actually, SCTV's Bill Needle character comes to mind when I think of poor, snakebit Tucky, as Needle's character's fatal flaw also was an inability to keep any show he hosted for more than an episode or two—every guise of a “Needle” program would hilariously end up cancelled, with Bill's shitty attitude as evidence of his foreknowledge of the end's inevitably coming.

Carlson too would “show his ass” in creepy ways when the rumors and leaks broke beyond 30 Rock's art deco facade. He famously lashed out when news of his ratings crappitude became beyond-insider chatter, snapping unprofessionally...

Tonight, as he was signing off, MSNBC's Tucker Carlson closed by saying, “That does it for us. Thank you for watching as always, we mean that sincerely to all eight of you. We'll be back Monday. Up next, 'Hardball' with Chris Matthews. Have a great weekend.”

A TVNewser tipster tells us “MSNBC management [is] infuriated” at Tucker's flippant sign-off.

...And followed that little bit of tantrum-throwing with his close-of-last-week, on-air strained peas and silver spoon-tossing when he got schooled on the differences between European and American journalism by the reporter who broke Obama adviser Samantha Power's “Monster” slam—The Scotsman's Gerry Peev (how apropos a name of a person to send him 'round the penultimate bend):

CARLSON: Right. What—she wanted it off the record. Typically, the arrangement is if someone you‘re interviewing wants a quote off the record, you give it to them off the record. Why didn‘t you do that?

PEEV: Are you really that acquiescent in the United States? In the United Kingdom, journalists believe that on or off the record is a principle that‘s decided ahead of the interview. If a figure in public life.


PEEV: .someone who‘s ostensibly going to be an advisor to the man who could be the most powerful politician in the world, if she makes a comment and decides it‘s a bit too controversial and wants to withdraw it immediately after, unfortunately if the interview is on the record, it has to go ahead.

CARLSON: Right. Well, it‘s a little.

PEEV: I didn‘t set out in any way, shape.

CARLSON: Right. But I mean, since journalistic standards in Great Britain are so much dramatically lower than they are, here it‘s a little much being lectured on journalistic ethics by a reporter from the “Scotsman,” but I wonder if you could just explain what you think the effect is on the relationship between the press and the powerful. People don‘t talk to you when you go out of your way to hurt them as you did in this piece.
Don‘t you think that hurts the rest of us in our effort to get to the truth from the principles in these campaigns?

PEEV: If this is the first time that candid remarks have been published about what one campaign team thinks of the other candidate, then I would argue that your journalists aren‘t doing a very good job of getting to the truth.

The smarmy, ironic video of his lame little contretemps is here at Raw Story. Give it a watch to absorb the undiluted, full-strength assholery, if you dare.

It's a sad little denouement. An attempt it seems to go out in a blaze of glory like some sort of post-modern Howard Beale...

...when in actuality, it played out with all the gumption and brass balls of a dithering Ally McBeal.

Voted off again. Tsk-tsk-tsk. Not only is Jon Stewart funny, but it turns out that he's also a hell of a judge of character.