"I'd hire him in a minute," says Fox News boss Roger Ailes, a former Republican spinmeister. "He'd put Oprah Winfrey out of business. He could talk about women who get cheated on. He could cry. He cries well. He could talk about furniture, silverware."
All kidding aside – well, "almost all" – Ailes says the former president would be a natural host, particularly on a conservative network (FNC) trying to project a nonpartisan image. ("We report. You decide.")
"I'm trying to get ratings, and I think he could get ratings," Ailes said last week at the 57th annual Radio & Television Correspondents' Association dinner. "I'm hoping he'll call. I'm sure he wouldn't take my call."
Clinton "is a very smart, capable communicator. He's got a name. He still has a following. Some of them are law enforcement officers, but there are other people as well." (Stop, Rog, you're killing us!)
Hiring Clinton "would be a privilege," says Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., which owns Fox. "He's a great entertainer. He'd be a very valuable asset to anybody. He could do a late-night show. A daytime show. He could play sax."
Cable's best-known interviewer, CNN's Larry King, says Clinton "has an amazing personality. He would be great.
"Every time I've been with him, he's extraordinarily interested in other people, which is the secret."
King, 67, whose contract is up in December 2002, is already negotiating a new deal, he says. As for Clinton ever actually hooking up with a network, King says chances are slim at best.
"I think he'll write books, make speeches. He could make very good money on TV, but he could never make the kind of money you get from public speaking. Plus, I don't think he'd tie himself down to a daily show."
MSNBC's Eric Sorensen agrees. While acknowledging "there have been some informal contacts around NBC" with Clinton, "I think it's such an extreme long shot we haven't even picked up the telephone. I don't think he'd do it in a million years," he said.
CBS News president Andrew Heyward respects Clinton's talent but has no room at his inn.
"We are a reporter's shop. ... We're really not a place for hosts, pundits and interviewers," he said. "That's not our real estate."
That said, Heyward "certainly can see Clinton making a name for himself, if he chose to," on a cable news-and-information channel "that needs big personalities, signature hosts and interviewers." Clinton "is an enormously talented person, with great knowledge of the issues and tremendous facility with TV."
CBS "Early Show" chief Steve Friedman seconds the motion. "He's glib. He's smart. He loves the camera and the camera loves him. ... Have his agent call my guys."
(c) 2001, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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