Despite Wonkette’s snarkette, I have no desire to replace Tucker Carlson as the host of Crossfire. I once thought it would be a great job, but A) I don’t like the shout-show format very much anymore and B) I really, really, don’t like hosting in such a format. At least when you’re a guest you get to say what you think, no matter how asinine or loaded the questions may be. When you’re the host you have to play a role and I’ve lost much of my appetite for playing other peoples’ roles — whether they’re assigned by producers or lazily ascribed by buzz merchants like Wonkette. I don’t think there’s any shame in taking the GOP’s position against all comers. But it’s just not my bag. Besides, most of the interesting arguments these days are within intellectual camps (libertarians versus conservatives, leftists versus liberals) and not between them.
During the election cycle I passed on guest-hosting Crossfire several times largely for these reasons. I think Begala and Carville are good at what they do, but what they do is not particularly enlightening or entertaining. And their presence puts Carlson and Novak at a disadvantage because Carlson and Novak are not lobbyists for a political party so much as defenders of a political philosophy (a big difference). The old Crossfire — with Kinsley, Braden, Buchanan, Novak — could be annoying but it often paid tribute to intellectual honesty. Now, it’s got a Oprah-style studio audience which wants Jerry Springer confrontations for the sophomore and sophomoric political partisan. I think Tucker’s PBS show is really pretty good, but PBS could still use — and really needs — a new Firingline (I’ve given up any hope that broadcast would do such a thing). No offense to Peter Robinson’s outstanding show “Uncommon Knowledge” or the show I used to produce, Ben Wattenberg’s “Think Tank” (both of which take ideas and arguments very seriously), but I really think a formal or quasi formal debate show would be great. I also would love to do a Kudlow and Kramer type show with a smart honest liberal where conservatives aren’t supposed to be ashamed to agree with liberals about anything and terrified to admit they got something wrong — and vice versa.
Sometimes I think that when I’m done with the book, I might try to get back into the TV producing business to do something like that. Or maybe I’ll turn back to my true love, erotic marzipan sculpture. Who knows?