I haven’t watched Dennis Miller’s show since I saw him brown-nosing Arnold on his first show back in January. So I was happy to see Eric Alterman say that his ratings are plummeting and even the staff think Miller’s behavior is “unprofessional”:
Anyway, what was so weird about it was how professional it seemed until I finally sat down with Miller. It was set up long in advance by the book’s publicists. The car came on time. In my dressing room, which was pretty elaborate as such things go, I met with a series of staff members who informed me that Dennis would be wanting to discuss topics such as George Soros and the funding of 527s; whether Bush was exploiting the 9/11 families, and I forget what else, just like a real talk show. Then I go out there and what? I’m talking to a stoned teenager, who can’t be bothered to say more than, “Whoh, man, you are so totally screwed up. Like, you really believe that stuff, dude?” I paraphrase, but really, Dennis did not say much more than that. Everyone on staff was extremely apologetic afterward and the word “unprofessional” was used over and over.
But there is a more depressing story here. We always here about “the market” and how important ratings and market forces are for determining TV programming, but the more you learn about how the industry works, you find out that it is ideology and not market forces that actually drives programming decisions:
Really, what can CNBC be thinking with this guy? His ratings are not just in the toilet they have traveled all the way to the septic tank. And as we all know, they need to pay audience members to show up. It has got to cost more than the Phil Donahue show to produce, given the size of the audience and the set and that was yanked even though it was then the highest rated show on MSNBC.
Its enough to (almost) make you wish the market really was running things…
UPDATE: Wow, when you actually watch the clip, it is worse than you could possibly imagine it. With one exception, he does let Eric talk much longer than I can imagine any other TV program letting him talk, with the exception of Now with Bill Moyers.