Rita Cosby: How Does She Keep Her Job?
CNN Headline News' Nancy Grace once topped my list in that regard, combining belligerent, pro-prosecution crime coverage with a grating, Southern-fried on air style that would seem calculated to drive viewers mad -- like the drip-drip of some dastardly Chinese banality torture.
But that was all B.R.: Before Rita.
Wielding a voice like a middle linebacker with a head cold, Rita Cosby has turned MSNBC's 9 p.m. hour into a haven for tabloid TV inanity usually reserved for the world of Inside Edition and Geraldo At Large. Tasered grandmothers. A wife of a Navy man who totes around a mannequin which looks like him when he's deployed. A psychic with predictions about the Natalee Holloway case.
No topic is too banal for Cosby, a Fox News Channel reject who left the home of O'Reilly when they wouldn't renew her contract to work weekends. So Rick Kaplan, the brain trust who once tried to bring network TV's inflated star salaries and empty newsmagazine concepts to CNN (and who consistently tangles with the channel's real star, Keith Olbermann), decided to make her MSNBC's Next Big Star.
Check the incisive wit she brought to an interview Tuesday with former Monday Night Football sideline reporter-turned-baseball wife and Playboy centerfold, Lisa Guerrero:
COSBY: Well, you do absolutely look beautiful. But are you going to be...
GUERRERO: Thank you.
COSBY: ... embarrassed at all, when you run into his teammates? You know, now there‘s no imagination left for what you look like with your clothes off. Are you going to feel funny at a dinner party with them or at a social event?
GUERRERO: Let me put it this way, Rita: After having covered sports for 13 years and having been in many locker rooms myself, I have seen them in their altogether, so I guess fair is fair.
COSBY: This is tit-for-tat, is that it?
GUERRERO: I guess could you say that, right?
And this was the woman MSNBC sent to watch Stanley "Tookie" Williams draw his last breath?
Unfortunately, it seems Cosby has scored some ratings juice with stories on wrestling star Eddie Guerrero's death and her, um, probing interviews with women at the legendary legal Nevada brothel, the Bunny Ranch.
Once again, it seems, we're only getting the TV news we deserve.
My pal (and former TV news director) Tom Jacobs complains that I'm being coy in my headline and already know the answer to the question I posit. Namely, that Cosby (and Grace) are blonde, obnoxious and relatively attractive.
But what does that say about Larry King?
To hear me mix it up today with noted conservative John McWhorter on Ed Gordon's National Public Radio show News and Notes, click here. We cover the possiblity of black politicians gaining statewide offices and the record number of U.S. immigrants, coming to surprising agreement on George Bush's frantic attempts to re-sell the American people on war in Iraq.