Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Dennis Miller: I've caught two episodes in a row of Dennis Miller's CNBC talk show, so I'm as much as an expert as anyone, probably. Prediction: he'll stick around, at least for a while.

He's got some work to do, though. Miller outed himself as a conservative convert after 9-11 and the Iraqi invasion, speaking in support of Bush and Arnold. But sometimes he doesn't sound like he really believes where he is and what he's saying. At any moment you expect him to turn to the camera and say, "Hey, America, check it out. The square guys in the suits dig me."

Miller is funny, though, and, given the right subject, a good interviewer. He was very good tonight with Tim Russert, who's a pretty easy one, and almost as good with Bill Richardson, who's not so easy. He gets the interviewee to lighten up a little, and, because they don't know whether the next sentence will be a gag, a serious, topical question, or a combination, they have to stay on their toes. Republicans want someone cool on their side, and Miller seems willing to play along with his sincere, if disbelieving, form of conservatism. It should play well for a while, at least well enough for CNBC to get some mileage.

The real test will come when the main political topic is no longer a bunch of Democrats playing whack-a-mole with each other. When it gets serious, Miller may have trouble getting guests who are used to being taken very seriously to put up with his jokes. He can't have Tim Russert on every night.

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