Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Giving up on Donahue. So there were Phil Donahue and Peter Jennings last night, having a civilized conversation about Iraq on MSNBC. Earlier in the day, Donahue's show had finally been put out of its misery, which was no surprise, since it hadn't attracted much in the way of ratings since its debut last year.

I can't say I shed any tears. I almost never watched it, and am not much of a fan of Donahue's arm-waving, hectoring style. But was it really necessary to give up this quickly on the only liberal talk show on cable news? As Bill Carter points out in this morning's New York Times, Donahue's ratings were bad, but they were getting better, and he actually had the highest ratings of MSNBC's sorry prime-time line-up.

MSNBC, of course, is completely and utterly lost. Soon it will debut a Saturday talk show by right-wing hatemonger Mike Savage. Donahue's slot may eventually go to new celebrity hire Jesse Ventura, who proved to be a more compelling wrestler than political leader. The network is also talking about a prime-time newscast to be anchored by Sam Donaldson -- not a terrible idea by any means, but it was only last year that it allowed Brian Williams, a far more supple anchor than Donaldson, to flee to sister station CNBC.

Donahue's show wasn't particularly inspired, but it was better than much of the trash that's on cable news.

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