Cory Bergman:

I agree with half of Alessandra Stanley’s take on Dennis Miller: “He is not terrible, but his performance does make one wonder, somewhat wistfully, who else might be out there.” But I disagree with her assessment that CNBC and MSNBC are simply trying to compete with Fox by swinging conservative. I think there’s an emerging niche that Miller is aspiring to capture: fast-paced news peppered with brutal honesty, humor and a dash of opinion. Think Daily Show combined with Anderson Cooper 360. Or MSNBC’s Countdown. Miller is aiming for 20 and 30-something (male) viewers who would rather trade the stiff formality of TV news for their X-Boxes. And I think he’s on the right track.

Jeff Jarvis, from whom I got the link and quote, posts it without comment and presumably agrees. I’m not sure I do.

Miller made his bones as a comedian and that’s still what he’s known for. Granted, his foray into political commentary–usually in the form of stand-up routine style quips–has gained him some notoriety of late. But my guess is that most people who watch his new show, John Stewart, and similar programs do so for the entertainment value, not primarily as a source of news.

As I noted after watching the first episode, the show will need to get a lot better if it’s to actually succeed at being entertaining. The monkey has got to go, the interviews need to get less stiff, and the jokes must get funnier. (Perhaps they should hire Frank J, who would certainly be able to help with the first and third of these.) Steven Taylor notes that last night’s installment showed signs of improvement. I caught it via TiVo delay after having missed the Tuesday and Wednesday episodes. The good thing about TiVo is that I was able to discern a few minutes into the horrid interview with Michael Isakoff that he was a stiff and fast forwarded through that and the one-liners-about-the-news segment.

The roundtable was reasonably good. It’s what “Politically Correct” was in its early state, before it devolved into a shouting fest with morons. Miller is mainly inviting knowledgable people on who can actually speak intelligently about the issues, although mixing in Martin Short last night actually worked.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Frank J. says:

    Aww… a compliment. No “Screw you!” today.

  2. Steven says:

    Yup. I still think it can work, but it will take some serious fine-tuning.

    Although his neophyte-ness as a political analyst is evident–and I say that based on things he said that I agree with, but the depth of his understanding of the issues is often painfully obvious.

  3. legion says:

    I think you’re wrong about the Daily show… Jon Stewart has changed (and changed that show) an unbelieveable amount since he took over. He had Richard Perle on the other day, and I swear Perle has never been so brutally questioned in his entire life – even when he and Frum were on NPR awhile back he had an easier time. Stewart, while not trying to be more than a comedian, also seems genuinely interested in getting truth out of his guests (at least the political ones). that alone puts him head and shoulders above 90% of the so-called ‘journalists’ (left AND right) working today.

    This was a funny joke when me & my friends said it 6 months ago, but it’s becoming more true as time goes by: Jon Stewart will be our generation’s Walter Cronkite. Take that as you will.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Interesting. I have only seen the show a handful of times, and not recently.