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As Chelsea Clinton's hire by NBC spurs nepotism talk, questions rise on CBS' turn to hard news in mornings



chelsea_clinton.jpgWhen I first wrote about how NBC should rename itself the Nepotism Broadcasting Company, a publicist for the network reached out and asked if I wasn't being a little tough.

But now, after the network's announcement that it just hired Chelsea Clinton as a special correspondent -- including offering stories for its serious journalism newsmagazine, Rock Center -- I think it's official: I wasn't being tough enough.

So far, this makes a grand total of five high profile children of celebrities, most with little or no network TV experience, hired with great fanfare at the Peacock Network's news division over the last few years.

Clinton joins George W. Bush's daughter Jenna Bush Hager, John McCain's daughter Meghan McCain and the late Tim Russert's son Luke Russert, along with Kathie Lee Gifford's son Cody Gifford, who provided movie reviews in summer of 2010 as part of an internship talked up on air.

Few doubt that Clinton seems a poised intelligent young woman, especially after growing up in the maelstrom of the Clinton's tumultuous presidency. But I always think it sends an odd message to have high-profile correspondent jobs go to people with little or on TV reporting experience.

We who cover the biz know fame and connections often trumps experience and ability. But to prove the point with so many high profile hires seems a bit awkward.

It gets worse. As several media critics are pointing out, Clinton is also refusing to do interviews about the job; meaning hwer first action as a newly-minted interviewer is to refuse giving interviews to any other journalists.

The irony here is getting thick, people.

This comes as rumors spread CBS will try a more hard news focused, salon-style morning news show, despite the fact that the two descriptive terms -- "salon-style" and "hard news-focused" -- seem diametrically opposed to each other.

king-gayle-1.jpgIndeed, the two hosts for the show are rumored to be PBS talk show host Charlie Rose and Oprah Winfrey Network talk show host Gayle King -- both second choices, drafted when Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinsky couldn't be wooed from their cable TV A.M. show Morning Joe.

I always thought it was odd that CBS wanted to try and challenge network TV's most successful morning show (NBC's Today show) with a pair from the much smaller viewership environs of cable TV.

But CBS seems ready to build a franchise with a greater focus on hard news around two people not particularly known for hard news coverage. According to reports from last week, Rose would appear at 7 a.m. with harder news offerings (I'm thinking his likely co-host is Erica Hill) and King would take over for the lighter 8 a.m. stuff (my pick for likely co-host, current newsreader Jeff Glor).

Going more traditional has worked for CBS on the Evening News, as new anchor Scott Pelley has developed an interesting, informative alternative to NBC and ABC. where-in-the-world-is-matt-lauer.jpg

But its tough to know how well that will work in the mornings, where Today this morning offered a tour of Michael Jackson's last home, a look at the buzz sparked by the Duggar family announcing their 20th pregnancy on their air last week and a behind-the-scenes look at their incredibly elaborate "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" reports from last week.

It may help that things have gotten so bad, even some of the morning show anchors think these broadcasts have gotten too soft and tabloidy.

[Last modified: Monday, November 14, 2011 2:36pm]


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