We live in strange times, and cable news is in business to chronicle that. As you may know, there is big money in the cable news universe, but two of the big players, MSNBC and CNN, are having major ratings problems. Last month in primetime, the Fox News Channel was the second-highest-rated cable channel in the United States behind the USA network. MSNBC came in 26th, CNN 29th. Not good for them.
So if I’m an executive at those two networks, I may be looking for a program host who is filled with tiger blood. An unchained warlock who is all about “winning.” That man, of course, is Charlie Sheen.
Here are his qualifications for hosting a cable chat show. Sheen believes the attack on September 11th was an inside job, asserting that the Bush administration was behind the mass murder. Hear that, MSNBC?
Sheen is also extremely successful by his own account. He told ABC’s “20/20”: “Every day is just filled with wins. All we do is put wins in the record books. We win so radically in our underwear before our first cup of coffee, it’s scary.” Sheen riffed that off the top of his head. THAT’s scary. And I believe CNN needs some wins.
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If you read The New York Times, you know that Sheen would be a moderate compared to the anchors on Fox News. Almost every day, the Times tells the world how heinous the Fox News people really are. Sheen would almost be, dare I say it, conservative by comparison. A welcome breath of fresh air from the rantings of yours truly and Glenn Beck.
In this crazy high-tech age, cable news is all about being provocative. Larry King found that out the hard way. Who is more provocative than Charlie Sheen? Gadhafi? Maybe. Bin Laden? Assured. But both would have trouble getting green cards, so they’ll probably wind up hosting shows on Al Jazeera.
Sheen might be better suited for the E! Network, but that is not where the money and prestige are. Today in America, the cable news prime-time people can become stars. That is something Sheen embraces, telling “The Today Show”: “I’m tired of pretending like I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars. And people can’t figure me out; they can’t process me. I don’t expect them to. You can’t process me with a normal brain.”
That bio might be a bit much for CNN, although I’d love to hear James Earl Jones introduce Sheen using outer space terminology.
In the end, somebody will hire Charlie Sheen. Mark Cuban says he might do it. You may remember that Cuban hired Dan Rather and put him on some kind of Internet show. I believe Sheen and Rather might go well together. “Good evening. This is the Cuban Nightly News with Dan Rather, alongside a totally bitchin’ rock star from Mars.”
I like it.
Bill O’Reilly, Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90045.