WaPo critic oddly not in love with new NBC News correspondent

posted at 9:55 am on December 13, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

When NBC announced that it would hire Chelsea Clinton as a new correspondent for their Rock Center show with Brian Williams, I was critical of the decision — mainly because the 32-year-old daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton had hardly been cooperative with news media, even when in the form of a 9-year-old girl looking for a quote.  This was a vestige of the media blackout the younger Clinton enjoyed as a teenager in the White House, but those days were long past — although it seems as though some in the media have not forgotten it.

Clinton made her debut on Rock Center last night, and the Washington Post’s Hank Steuver appears to channel a few years of frustration into a blistering critique of the cub reporter:

[W]hat was surprising to see on Monday night’s show is how someone can be on TV in such a prominent way and, in her big moment, display so very little charisma — none at all. Either we’re spoiled by TV’s unlimited population of giant personalities or this woman is one of the most boring people of her era.

Ouch.  But that’s just the beginning, as Steuver blasts the media shield that has surrounded Clinton well past her majority:

As soon as NBC announced its opportunistic addition of Clinton as a very special correspondent to its news staff last month (using the broadest definition of “news” to include the sort of uplifting, socially concerned puff pieces Clinton will contribute), all sorts of longstanding bargains have been nullified. Clinton, who turns 32 in February, is officially past the “hands-off” restrictions firmly negotiated with the media when she was 12 and her father, the president, and her mother, the almighty, insisted that the press not write any stories about her.

That weird treatment extended well into her adulthood, creating a kind of Gen-Y Greta Garbo in plain sight, a mystery figure entirely undeserving of the intrigue and fascination accorded her. Having earned degrees from Stanford, Oxford and Columbia (and still working on her doctorate at New York University), Clinton is now ready to put all that schooling to one of the easiest tasks on the planet: feel-good journalism about folks just makin’ their way.

All of these are good points, but it seems to show a little, er, prejudice in his ability to review Clinton’s performance.  So how was she?  World’s most boring human, a standard non-talent, a rookie with some rough skills, or a star in the making?  Steuver’s review actually prompted me to watch the segment, something I would have otherwise skipped … and probably should have:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I don’t think Chelsea Clinton is the world’s most boring human, but it’s hard to argue that she has any mad skilz for this kind of work, either.  NBC did her no favors by giving her a 10-minute segment on an interesting human-interest story that could easily have been handled in a two- to three-minute hit with no couch follow-up.  The couch segment with Williams drags on interminably with nothing of interest being said, and being said uninterestingly.  However, the actual segment itself was handled competently if not terribly dynamically by Clinton, and it was an interesting story.

Steuver’s right that a couple of years at a local station reporting on city-council meetings would give Clinton a chance to develop real skill and talent for this line of work, but he’s also right that this effort isn’t about turning Chelsea Clinton into the next Diane Sawyer, either:

Stories from the Chelsea beat, meanwhile, are all meant to do a few things, very quickly: Highlight some bright spot of good news in otherwise bleak circumstances; indicate how viewers might help out the situation, if so inclined; and (this is never once said, but almost always palpable in the empathetic eyes of the reporter) ennoble the reporter herself, and thereby ennoble the network.

The whole exercise appears to be intended to promote the next generation of Clintons for public work, and perhaps public office.  So far, though, it’s not working.  Clinton may not be as bad as Steuver says, but she’s not worth watching, either.


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And, about the issue Chelsea allegedly covered:

First of all, what the h3ll is a “fully formed teenager”?, Brian.

Next. Most of those kids appeared to have been WELL-FED for a very long time.

Next. Seems like the more the tax-payers do for them, the more in need they become. (“teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime”)

Next. Couldn’t Chelsea’s mommy and daddy write a great big fat check to this lady’s cause?

Chelsea seems like a very lovely young woman. But the sugar-ending between her and Brian tested my gag reflex.

stenwin77 on December 13, 2011 at 10:23 AM

My thoughts, exactly.

AND, I’ll add this:

I was wondering why all the adults shown in the segment were females: no male adults, none of those children’s fathers, so where were they?

And the example being set by the woman, though she certainly is charitable, of going bankrupt herself by using all her resources “for the children” is not a good one. It just reaffirms a failed future to the children she’s seeking to help, unfortunately (and where will they be, after becoming dependent on her, when she can’t indulge them any longer).

All the female adults were overweight, and that one with her resentful, negative remark about her fridge goods lasting (only) “two weeks”…what?!? I’d think that was a thing to be grateful for, not resentful about: two weeks of food available, you’re not starving.

I also thought that the younger adults who claimed they’d been able to turn to that woman for “whatever (they needed)” (including “financially”), was offputting. What they ought to have learned was limits and self reliance, not indulgence by a perpetual mommie figure.

The Clintons could just as easily write a big ole check and carry all of those “children” AND those adults along if they wanted to. So why didn’t they?

Because the purpose of Chelsea’s story there (and NBC’s) seems to be to encourage yet again more indulgence by the taxpayers for children whose parents are not providing so much as attention to their own children. THAT’s the story.

Lourdes on December 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Ah yes, nepotism at its finest.

The continuation in a long line of children of Presidents who, if not for their last name, would be probably asking “do you want fries with that?”

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on December 13, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Chelsea Hillary Clinton got where she is because of who her parents are husband, plain and simple. It had nothing to do with her talent or her experience…They put her there, unqualified and ill-equipped, and these are the pathetic results. Why exactly should I, or anyone, give her a break for that?

WesternActor on December 13, 2011 at 10:39 AM

Chelsea’s mom: Senator from NY and Secretary of State of the United States of America.

spiritof61 on December 13, 2011 at 11:44 AM

NBC: the DNC’s newsletter department.

Lourdes on December 13, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Felony Perjury is Felony Perjury-doesn’t matter what the lie is about.

In addition, Clinton’s defenders ignored the fact that his Justice Department had previously successfully prosecuted a female Federal employee (a VA doctor, no less) for Lying Under Oath About Sex.

In their world, he was Above the Law, but she didn’t matter.

Del Dolemonte on December 13, 2011 at 11:30 AM

None of which I deny, the bottom line is still that compared to getting 2 federal Law Enforcement officers and 2000+ Mexican citizens killed Felony Perjury is a pretty damned small and insignificant matter.

SWalker on December 13, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Hey Chelsea, here’s a story you might want to tell and it’s right there in the NBC/MSLSD archives. Lisa Meyers’ Feb 24 1999 story on President Daddy raping Juanita Broadderick. How about a follow up on how she is making her way in the world.

Ms. 1% thinks she has the whole forlorn head roll, fraudelnt lip biting thing down. But she doesn’t. She looks ashamed, and she ought to be–not because she was born with a silver spoon, but because she’s now in the professional ranks of those of those who condescend to those who weren’t.

Western_Civ on December 13, 2011 at 11:47 AM

(yawn)

monotone delivery…..and she sounds as if she’s reading her narration.

nothing remarkable here.

Tim_CA on December 13, 2011 at 11:50 AM

I was prepared for the worst, but I actually thought Chelsea was terrific. Poised, articulate, genuine – and not asking for a government solution to a problem. I would like to see her make donate to these causes however (perhaps her NBC salary would be a good place to start). It’s one thing to report on something and extol its virtues, it’s another to serve as a model to others to donate – and as Bill’s daughter she has more than enough financial resources at her disposal to do it. And she can be a role model for other liberals who tend to be stingy, except with other people’s money.

Buy Danish on December 13, 2011 at 11:54 AM

I watched it and was completely bored. She was very stiff and obviously reading from a teleprompter (Next gig: POTUS?).

She had zero personality. It seemed like a bad satire of ‘Bart’s People’ from years ago on The Simpsons.

Spiders from Mars on December 13, 2011 at 11:57 AM

1) Chelsea’s debut, nothing against her, who cares?
2) Hank Steuver’s opinion of Chelsea’s debut, who cares?
3) A review of Hank Steuver’s opinion of Chelsea’s debut, who cares?

Will someone please tell me what the valid story is here? I can’t find one…

BTW, I feel the same way about Jenna.

Let’s giv’em a chance to do something before we decide if they are capable or not. So far, there is little evidence, good or bad.

Deacon336 on December 13, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Ooops – I would like to see her make donate donations….

Buy Danish on December 13, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Uh…

No.

Let me add…

No.

And fina…

No.

Somebody please body-slam the RESET button.

Kraken on December 13, 2011 at 12:00 PM

This comment section is more entertaining and educational than anything on NBC. And that Derbyshire piece on Chelsea was perfect.

ktrich on December 13, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Only made it a few minutes in. The writing was typical, standard-fare feel-good puff piece. So, meh. Lots of people love that stuff.

But to make a strong first public splash, all Chelsea would have to have done is to have spent a little time with a broadcasting voice/acting coach. She has a perfectly fine voice, but she ain’t puttin’ nuttin’ into it. Some got it, some don’t. But it can be learned. She just didn’t bother.

Probably the congenital Clinton Ego made her think she was above all that mere mortal stuff.

eeyore on December 13, 2011 at 12:09 PM

…because she’s now in the professional ranks of those of those who condescend to those who weren’t.

Western_Civ on December 13, 2011 at 11:47 AM

You know, I agree, I did, also, think her tone of voice was condescending in that voice-over and later when she appeared in the story herself. There she was, claiming to be preparing food for the kids, and she didn’t so much as interact slightly with any of them.

Lourdes on December 13, 2011 at 12:14 PM

JohnTant on December 13, 2011 at 10:03 AM

Thanks for sharing. Most entertaining reading material for my lunch break.

GeorgiaBuckeye on December 13, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Isn’t Chelsea Clinton a “he” now? Or did she switch back again?

logis on December 13, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Can I get a job with a major cable news network because I “want to tell stories?” There are lots and lots of stories I can tell… FoxNews, here I come!

Oh, wait, my father isn’t the idol of the new American left (prior to that idol being Obama, that is).

That being said, when you spend more time growing up in other states, the state you were born in ceases to be your “home state.” That’s doubly true when you don’t have the proper accent.

Professor de la Paz on December 13, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Imagine if the Bush daughters did the same…

albill on December 13, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Good Lord! If there was ever a face made for radio, that would be it.

It actually is painful to gaze upon it.

And just think, this is with the best professional makeup job that money can buy..

She is to beauty what Al Sharpton is to eloquence.

esnap on December 13, 2011 at 12:22 PM

I thought I heard it said somewhere that the left hates cronyism.

Ampersand on December 13, 2011 at 12:22 PM

rollthedice on December 13, 2011 at 10:19 AM

esnap on December 13, 2011 at 12:22 PM

lulz.

She was homely as a teen; she was homely as a college student (when I heard about her “lap-dancing” at an Oxford school pub, I threw up a little). But at least she dresses better now, and she has been able to do something about that icky tight-curled hair of hers.

MisterElephant on December 13, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Hello, Saturday Night Live. Jon Stewart? Colbert? South Park? Hello? Anyone there? There is a steaming pile of satire in aisle 4 that desperately needs your attention.

Rational Thought on December 13, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Having earned degrees from Stanford, Oxford and Columbia (and still working on her doctorate at New York University),

32 years old and I don’t see a “job” listed anywhere there, except the one handed to her by the media cuz of her last name.

Clearly, she is the 1%. Where is OWS when you need them?

lorien1973 on December 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Isn’t Chelsea Clinton a “he” now? Or did she switch back again?

logis on December 13, 2011 at 12:14 PM

That’s right. “He’s” going by Chaz, now. Chaz Clinton.

It’s all very ookie.

Kensington on December 13, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Probably the congenital Clinton Ego made her think she was above all that mere mortal stuff.

eeyore on December 13, 2011 at 12:09 PM

“Start at a small market station with a tiny audience and work on my craft even a little before going national!?! Why would I do that?”

Kensington on December 13, 2011 at 12:43 PM

The cronyism is not right, but that is evident to everyone. Neon sign..even liberals can see it? This is not someone I am afraid of. She’s unappealing with no discernible talent.

unlisted on December 13, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Well, the best that can be said for this is that she is not becoming a community organizer. Sort of.

AZfederalist on December 13, 2011 at 1:00 PM

This is what I want to know: what’s with the “growl” at the end of sentences with today’s young women reporters. I hear this all the time on NPR and just wonder if it is to make them sound more androgynous. It is annoying.

elm on December 13, 2011 at 1:03 PM

My impression of her is that she’s a rather cool, humorless person, a trained elitist, unembarrassed with the gift of her position, and, despite NBC’s stated reason for hiring her, her wide-ranging empathy, she’s a top-down personality who has problems connecting with the Hoi Polloi.

She reminds me a great deal of her mother — same flat voice, same attitude.

Aardvark on December 13, 2011 at 1:03 PM

She sounds like those kids who did the voices for A Charlie Brown Christmas. They were too young to read, so they learned their parts phonetically then recited them back in a charmingly stilted way.

It’s not charming when you’re 32.

1up on December 13, 2011 at 1:21 PM

Having earned degrees from Stanford, Oxford and Columbia (and still working on her doctorate at New York University),

32 years old and I don’t see a “job” listed anywhere there, except the one handed to her by the media cuz of her last name.

Clearly, she is the 1%. Where is OWS when you need them?

lorien1973 on December 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM

She had a job, from what I recall, in Europe for a while after Oxford, head of some political P.R. firm or operation or something.

To no one’s surprise: P.R. work for Liberals in Europe…she started out at the top of the organization, with, almost certainly, the “force” of the family personna.

Lourdes on December 13, 2011 at 1:31 PM

That’s pretty funny. She’s on the show because she wants to tell stories, stories from her travels…then it’s a segment about a poor area of Arkansas?

I’m amazed that even a dolt like Williams could say that with a straight face.

reaganaut on December 13, 2011 at 1:44 PM

I look forward to Stuveur’s crisp review of Barack Obama’s Cub Presidency :)

DeniseVB on December 13, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Also, Ms. 1% said “Chelsea Clinton happened to me.” My thoughts exactly throughout the 90s and aughts: CLINTON HAPPENS

Western_Civ on December 13, 2011 at 1:48 PM

The Statute of Limitations on the gentleman’s agreement on not reporting about Chelsea Clinton should have run out no later than September of 2001.

A day or two after the Islamo-fascist attacks on New York, a 21-year old Chelsea, who was in New York City at the time, was interviewed for her reaction. C. Clinton said that when the planes hit the towers, she wondered how George W. Bush’s tax cuts might hurt the recovery of people affected by the attacks.

At that moment, if not sooner, an adult Chelsea Clinton should have been fair game, electing as she did to politicize the 9-11 attacks.

MidniteRambler on December 13, 2011 at 1:48 PM

FTV:

Clinton: We heard a few gunshots earlier.

Fat Black lady: Right – couple gunshots.

Clinton: So the gunshots we heard aren’t abnormal.

Fat Black Lady: No. No. [hard video edit] …and for our children, it’s just their world…

What was edited out?

Fat Black Lady: No. No. [It's hunting season, and hunting is an integral part of our community. And as you can see, our neighborhood is on the outskirts of town, so gunshots are very common this time of year.] And for our children, it’s just their world.

This is a town of 50,000 people. Are we to believe that rampant criminal gunfire within the city limits is a scourge the people of Pine Bluff Arkansas are subject to?

What a “journalistic” piece of scat.

IronDioPriest on December 13, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Chelsea Clinton is the 1%.

SD Tom on December 13, 2011 at 2:02 PM

I’ve had more pleasurable experiences watching pain dry while undergoing Root Canal.

One more reason why NBC’s numbers are continuously tanking. Perhaps, this newest addition will drive those numbers even deeper.

Just a thought.

Jack Deth on December 13, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Chelsea Clinton’s Baggage. No, Not Them.

The world is actually a very simple place. It just takes a long time to figure out all the connections, who people really are, and how things work. And, most important of all, who the Right People are. Because in Clinton World, there are still — it would seem — no Wrong People.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/12/chelsea_clintons_baggage_no_not_them.html#ixzz1gRXSAm8i

Green eyed Lady on December 13, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Good Lord, why is “being Chelsea Clinton” more important than being anyone else? These people are ridiculous.

ctmom on December 13, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Both Clinton and her husband had high profile Wall Street jobs and they live in Grammercy Park. Why didn’t the OWS crowd go occupy there? She has a key and could have let them in.

Blake on December 13, 2011 at 2:10 PM

C’mon, folks- what did you expect?

 

She’s the daughter of the first black President of the United States and daughter of the second black female Secretary of State of the United States.

She’s just keepin’ it real.

SD Tom on December 13, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Chelsea, here’s a story you can cover. Or not.

HT/Flora Duh

Akzed on December 13, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Seems to me that Chelsea Clinton has a face made for radio, and a delivery style made for newsprint.

landlines on December 13, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Remember how we were told the Kennedy family was wonderful and delightful and warm and fuzzy ? Then came an opening in the US Senate from NY and they wanted to send a limo for Caroline and take her to Washington to save the world. Only thing wrong with the plan was no one told her to “Keep your mouth shut.” The rest is history. Same thing here with “The girl with a face only a mother could love.”

RickinNH on December 13, 2011 at 2:22 PM

The purpose of this ‘job’ is to prepare her for being in the Public Eye as one small step to Public Office holder.

I’ve been expecting this for years, as her parents are now too old and want to pass the torch. Here I had been hoping that this idea/plan would fail. She has less Charisma than that of her mother, thank-you Jesus! That is a -.2 since her Mom’s is -.1 on a scale of 1-10.

uhangtight on December 13, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Send her on assignment to Egypt and Libya to tell stories about the terrible mess her mom made over there.

Christien on December 13, 2011 at 2:26 PM

In their world, he was Above the Law, but she didn’t matter.
 
Del Dolemonte on December 13, 2011 at 11:30 AM

 
None of which I deny, the bottom line is still that compared to getting 2 federal Law Enforcement officers and 2000+ Mexican citizens killed Felony Perjury is a pretty damned small and insignificant matter.
 
SWalker on December 13, 2011 at 11:46 AM

 
The concept of a president, commander in chief, and chief law enforcement officer (he appoints/directs the AG after all) whose job is to preserve, protect, and defend the nation’s laws proving he’s willing to lie under oath is ANYTHING but small and insignificant regardless of any comparisons.
 
Hint: Both are horrible, borderline seditious, and dangerous to our republic, and comparisons between the two are pointless.

rogerb on December 13, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Whatever Chelsea’s political skills and qualifications are, she is easier on the eyes than her mom by an order by magnitude. If she’s got her dad’s disposition towards going biblical, her husband is either a godd@mn lucky bast@rd or the other way around.

Archivarix on December 13, 2011 at 3:51 PM

MSNBC added Ron Reagan to its Wall of Shame after President Reagan passed away, so I see this as nothing more than another grab bag item for the peacock.

madmonkphotog on December 13, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Completely fair.

She was competent on the nightly news spot, yet there’s no question that she was there only because of her last name, which NBC hopes will improve ratings.

Basically, they don’t care how good or bad she is as long as it draws viewers. I never watch NBC news, but the channel still on NBC from Sunday night football. I heard Williams say “Chelsea Clinton” and decided to see what she was going to bring.

She got no schick.

EconomicNeocon on December 13, 2011 at 4:34 PM

At least the Bush girls have personalities!

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Chelsea should be that woman and not report on her. Go do something with that ‘famous’ life.

Schadenfreude on December 13, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Looked like Chelsea was going to start crying during the couch interview. I would’ve missed it but my head hit the computer keyboard after I nodded off.

jfox21 on December 13, 2011 at 6:35 PM

Lourdes on December 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Dependency promotes not gratitude, but resentment.

DrMagnolias on December 13, 2011 at 7:04 PM

I’m watching the ladies on Fox News…and scrolling around Hot Air.
I’m past the 50 year mark, so I watched Chels grow up.
My wife for the first time in 30 years lied to me!
She said Chels looks better than when she was 8 or 10.
Uhm! The myth has been put to rest that the talking heads are there for their looks!
OWS would protest her new status if she got the job because of her parents…so it just has to be for her journalistic credentials.
Right? Right!

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Maybe it’s professional (such as it is) jealousy; Chelsea rides into the spotlight on her name alone, not even a TV news legacy like Peter Doocy or Luke Russert.

L.N. Smithee on December 13, 2011 at 9:11 PM

As I’ve posted before, she’s the Melissa Rivers of mainstream news.

JimC on December 14, 2011 at 3:20 AM

O_O

O_-

-_-

X_X

Bishop on December 13, 2011 at 10:04 AM

LOL

AH_C on December 14, 2011 at 7:02 AM

It makes me sick how Chelsea Clinton is apparently given all these career breaks and other opportunities only because of who her parents are. Isn’t she embarrassed? It reminds me of the Kennedys, who seem to think they are entitled to all kinds of lofty positions by virtue of their family name. Though I don’t know the specifics in each of these cases, same goes for people like Peter Doocy, Luke Russert, the Bush daughter, Wallace, etc. I doubt most of them could have gotten those positions based on talent alone. When I see news reporters with familiar last names and who likely benefited from nepotism, I lose some respect for the news networks they work for. Similarly, it’s pathetic when you see news anchors and reportes who appear to have been selected primarily for looks.

bluegill on December 14, 2011 at 7:04 AM

You know what . . . I’m going to go against the grain here, and hopefully make a few contrary points.

First, let us be honest. Chelsea Clinton did not just get where she is just because of who her parents are.

Sure it helped her. But which one of us would have tossed away the opportunities, had we been in her same position? Frequently, the children of famous parents find ways to fail quite miserably, or at least put the folks through significant level of embarrassment along the way. Chelsea has not done that.

And, she has obviously accumulated a remarkably impressive educational base for herself.

So I say, good for her.

Secondly, I did not see the NBC show, but I did just happen see her interview on PBS with Peter Martins, the New York City Ballet’s Ballet Master in Chief. She was not only thoroughly knowledgeable, including from a personal perspective (having been introduced to the Nutcracker as a small child in Arkansas) but she was really quite engaging throughout the interview, as they discussed the George Balanchine influence here in America.

Now, I happened across the show while channel surfing, and I’ll be the first to say that I have never had any interest in ballet at all. And yet I watched the entire interview, and came away feeling like I had really learned something.

I couldn’t find a link to a clip, though I suspect one will eventually surface. I very much recommend it.

Trochilus on December 14, 2011 at 9:57 PM

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