Why Clinton should host a TV talk show -- CBS may be considering the ex-prez for a daytime gabfest, and Bruce Fretts explains why it's a great idea

By Bruce Fretts
Updated August 26, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Credit: Bill Clinton: Todd Plitt

Why Clinton should host a TV talk show

Stop the presses — Bill Clinton may host a syndicated daytime talk show! Actually, you can start the presses again. We’ve been down this road before, a few months ago, when reps for the ex-President were reportedly negotiating with NBC. That went nowhere. Now the word is the Clinton camp is talking to CBS and King World. Chances are it’s never gonna happen, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. In fact, here are five reasons why Clinton ought to host a talk show:

He can talk. As opposed to, say, the current resident of the White House, Bubba’s got the gift of gab. Think what you want about his policies (or his personal morality), he can chat with the best of ’em. He’s proven his chops as a talk-show guest, schmoozing everybody from Arsenio Hall to Jim Lehrer. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t prove an equally adept talk-show host, as long as he learns to keep his mouth shut and let the guests get a word in edgewise once in a while. Then again, that problem has never held back Charlie Rose.

He feels your pain. Being a daytime talk-show host is all about empathy, and Clinton oozes it from every pore. He perfected his act during the ’92 presidential debates, when he got up off his stool and approached questioners who shared personal struggles (meanwhile, the first President Bush sat in the background, notoriously checking his watch — a move that some feel cost him the election). With Oprah planning to hang up her mike in a few seasons, America may need a new afternoon bleeding-heart, and crusty Dr. Phil ain’t gonna be it.

He loves celebs (and the feeling is mutual). We’re looking at another void in the syndie marketplace: Rosie O’Donnell’s gone, and abrasive replacement Caroline Rhea may soon regret giving up her ”Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and ”Hollywood Squares” gigs. We need an emcee who can suck up to movie stars without losing his own star power, and who better than a guy who’s close personal pals with Barbra Streisand? One caveat: No musical spots for former First Brother Roger Clinton.

He could give Ted Koppel a run for his ”Nightline” money. Clinton’s show wouldn’t have to be entirely fluffy; he could segue from a sitdown with Vin Diesel to a discussion of the Middle East. Think it can’t be done? Jon Stewart has been doing it every night on ”The Daily Show.” And, as David Letterman so aptly pointed out, nobody knows more about public affairs than Bill Clinton.

He can’t demean the office of the Presidency any more than he already has. This seems to be the major objection of blue-nosed pundits — that if Clinton stoops to the level of Ricki Lake and Jenny Jones, he’ll somehow tarnish the Presidential seal further. But c’mon, after you’ve left your own, uh, Presidential seal on an intern’s blue dress, how much worse could it get?

Do you think Bill Clinton should host his own daytime talk show?

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