Op-ed: Tucker not Kellyanne

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, January 7, 2017 5:25pm
  • Opinion

I had what I thought was such a brilliant idea that it breaks my heart the Fox News people came up with an even better one: They have decided to replace Megyn Kelly with Tucker Carlson.

As you know, Megyn has flown the coop, rejecting Fox’s millions for more NBC millions. She already was a big star — and deservedly so, in my opinion — when she was elevated into the stratosphere by no less than Donald Trump and his musing about her “whatever.” Fox tried to keep her, to no avail. All the Murdochs could do is put out a statement to “wish her and her family all the best.” As we’ve discussed before, what that really means in corporate-speak is, “May she burn in hell!”

Now they have selected Tucker as her replacement. He’s a terrific choice. It might come as a surprise that I think so, because we are as different as two people can be, except that we’re longtime friends. I have always found Tucker to be smart and a constant provocateur who can get away with uttering the most objectionable stuff because he’s truly funny. Besides, he certainly looks like Megyn (as I said, we’re buddies).

However, I did have someone else in mind: Kellyanne Conway. Would that have been slick or what? Everyone knows who she is. Since joining the Trump campaign, she’s been on television as much as anyone else, explaining away whatever goofy or incendiary comment her boss has made that day, or overnight on Twitter. For those of us in TV, our guiding principle is “If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bulls—t.” Her tortured defenses of Trump show how effective she is at that.

But even she, on occasion, has been unable to keep up as Trump careens from one point of view to another, undermining the rationalization she had just pulled off with a straight face. Case in point: She went on the morning shows to defend that ridiculous secret move by House Republicans to sabotage their ethics enforcement. She said they were justified in doing so because of their “due-process rights being violated and being compromised.”

Shortly thereafter, she was treated to her daily Trump Dump. He totally contradicted her, tweeting “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it … may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, health care and so many other things of far greater importance!”

Donald Trump was sticking it to House Republicans. Outrage over their weasel move was thundering nationwide. Trump, who never misses an opportunity to demagogue, turned on his GOP partners. They, in turn, showed that “craven politicians” is an oxymoron; they reversed their action, demonstrating still again that even the most tone-deaf have some survival skills.

Of course, they’re already sweating over how they possibly can deliver on the bombastic promises that got them elected. Health care, for instance. Oh, they’ll have a relatively easy time of it blowing up Obamacare, but they have no real idea about what they should put in its place, or when — or for that matter how. They will be accountable for their actions; the voters will judge what they produce, which terrifies them.

As for Kellyanne, getting twisted around by Trump is all in a day’s work. She shows that she’s totally willing to stay on message even when she doesn’t know for sure what the message will be in the next instant. It was time for a career change, but alas, it was not to be. Fox decided to go with Tucker Carlson. Prepare to be antagonized at the same time you’re laughing.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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