*Addition amended (9/5/08, 7 P.M.)
PEOPLE ON TV ARE OFTEN VILIFIED, criticized and laughed at by others. I have been known on occasion to do the same, considering most less than those in the print news tradition I so admire. As penance, after the jump, in no particular order, are the 10 people on TV I like most.
Chris Matthews The Chris Matthews Show: The host of Harball, the Chris Matthews Show and MSNBC pundit gets jabbed at for his partisanship and love for Barack Obama, but he is a Temple University law graduate (my alma mater) and grew up proud and Philadelphian. He also has a good Irish heart. ..OK, plus, he is smart and experienced, and a former presidential speech writer. That means something, doesn’t it?
Bill O’Reilly The O’Reilly Factor: No, seriously. So he is generally served up as evil, all that is wrong with TV commentary today, but – though I can’t say I watch him often – he is entertaining and bright. When he is matched well against a respectful, opposing voice, his interviews can be enlightening. The O’Reilly Factor has topped his ratings slots for seven years, according to his biography, that has to mean something, no?
Brian Williams NBC Nightly News: My boy Brian was the only TV-reporter to make it on my (illustrious) list of the 10 Journalists I respect most, The anchor and managing editor of NBC’s premiere news program is simply the best journalist on TV, having received four Edward R. Murrow awards, his fifth Emmy award, and his industry’s highest honor, the George Foster Peabody award. He is also super funny when appearing on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
He is smart and likable, and I have always heard and read – anecdotally – that he’s the industry’s hardest worker. I definitely don’t hate the man. Really what that means is I heart Brian Williams. Spoiler alert: he is my favorite face on TV, news or otherwise.
David Letterman The Late Show: He took on quite the mantle from Johnny Carson, but no question Letterman did much with it. Of his rivalry with Jay Leno, Letterman has always been funnier and more watchable to me, even today. I am happy to say I managed to see a taping of his show, headlined by an interview with John Travolta – bad seats or not, it will be good to say I did that years from now.
Soledad O’Brien CNN correspondent: I have a bias here. I mentioned Soledad on what has become my best read post in this blog’s nine-month history, the real list of the 10 most attractive celebrities in the country. No use doing this over, here’s what I wrote back in June:
I woke up for much of my high school career with Solded and Bill Hemmer on CNN’s American Morning. She is beautiful and bright and only a little ridiculous as TV personalities go. I am not alone; she also may be among the only news anchors with a real fan group.
Bill Maher Real Time: He is a lightning rod, to be sure, but he manages to be a fairly free spirit and willing to speak his own mind – whether I agree with it or not. Gandering at his Youtube results will engender your own thoughts on him.
Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal: He started reporting at age 15 in 1949. He’s been kicking it ever since and ruling nonpartisan, public TV. Before then, though, the native Texan was special assistant, speechwriter, chief of staff, and press secretary to President Lyndon B. Johnson – so, yeah, he knows what he’s doing.
Conan O’Brien: He is the baby of the network late-night comedians, but the Harvard graduate is brilliant, funny and fresh. Oh and he is freakin loved in Finland.
Jon Stewart The Daily Show: He will always be remembered as the man who brought satire to news like no one before him – though Craig Kilborn laid the groundwork. He is funny, well-read and bright – no can deny this – but he’s burning bridges, even with me. It started a couple years ago when I think Stewart was a jerk on Crossfire, but he has since handed a railroad job to John McCain, who had appeared on his show and done well frequently before. Stewart’s partisanship has frustrated me, particularly of late and I am not alone. Journalism.org took note:
The results reveal a television program that draws on the news events of the day but picks selectively among them—heavily emphasizing national politics and ignoring other news events entirely. In that regard, The Daily Show closely resembles the news agenda of a number of cable news programs as well as talk radio. [Source]
Stephen Colbert The Colbert Report: I thought he was going to bomb when he launched his show. But he has blown up and is hilarious. He tends, it seems, to be pretty left-leaning, himself, too, but his satire is subtler than Stewart’s and he is a bit more ridiculous, which certainly lets him get away with it more, I’d say.
I also have to add that Colbert and Stewart are so hilarious that they, indeed, shared the best Emmy moment Ever.
*Addition amended (9/5/08, 7 P.M.)
Pat Buchanan: The independent talks sense – years removed from being a crazed and ridiculed presidential candidate.
Marc Lamont Hill
Marc Lamont Hill Temple University professor: I couldn’t put him on my complete list. Still you might say this mention is cheating because Dr. Hill has no TV show of his own – yet – but rather is a frequent contributor to cable news programs, most notably as a regular guest of Bill O’Reilly’s. Still, the Temple University professor, Penn graduate and lifelong Philadelphian is on TV so much, I think it counts, and I am almost always happy to see his appearances. He is smart, funny, reserved (as TV personalities go) and is a perfect example of someone who makes O’Reilly someone I can watch.