It’s pretty darn good being Wagner or Cupp!


Notes on two all-new programs: Two Sundays ago, Meredith Blake reviewed the all-new Newsroom in the Washington Post. The piece was a reprint from the Los Angeles Times.

We don’t get HBO on our sprawling campus. In part for that reason, we don’t know a great deal about Newsroom.

That said, we’re not sure that getting HBO would help. Last year, a few free episodes of Newsroom aired. We tried to watch but couldn’t do it, so awful was the program.

Last night, we found the all-new second season on our free cable, so we tried to watch again. Same result! Newsroom can’t be watched!

That said, it’s good being a “cable news” denizen! Blake included this throwaway note about Newsroom’s second season. She discussed the ways Aaron Sorkin keeps trying to get it right:
BLAKE (9/1/13): For the show's [second year], Sorkin enlisted 13 paid consultants, including former MSNBC and CNN president Rick Kaplan, political strategist Mark McKinnon, New Republic Literary Editor Leon Wieseltier, conservative pundit S.E. Cupp and MSNBC host Alex Wagner.

With their input, he made some storytelling tweaks.
It’s good being Alex Wagner and S. E. Cupp, with cable consultant payments rolling in!

Cupp is one of the conservative hosts of the all-new Crossfire, which debuted last night on CNN. This reminds us of the unpleasant post we did in April 2010.

By now, it’s perfectly clear that Cupp is perfectly bright. She’s also telegenic and youngish. In the past year, she served as the house conservative on MSNBC’s three-against-one afternoon discussion program, The Cycle. A few months ago, she departed for the all-new Crossfire, which was in preparation.

(Rather plainly, The Cycle was based on The Five, the Fox News Channel's four-against-one afternoon discussion program. The Cycle makes up for its lack of imbalance by booking liberal guests.)

Cupp is perfectly bright. But back in the fall of 2009, she was so dumb it hurt. Or so it seemed when she spoke with Brian Lamb, for the full hour, on C-Span’s Q&A.

For transcript or tape, just click here.

At the time, Cupp was working a ridiculous shtick which seemed to grab Lamb’s interest. Again and again and again and again, he asked her about her “I’m not a religious believer but I sure would like to be” heartfelt shtick.

Cupp struggled to answer Lamb’s questions about this stance, seeming rather dumb in the process. To us, Lamb seemed puzzled, bemused.

In the last few years, it became clear that Cupp just basically isn’t dumb. As a result, we generated a theory about that program with Lamb:

At the time, a lot of folk were creating slightly offbeat conservative personas to make themselves useful to Fox. Tammy Bruce had fashioned herself the “lesbian former head of Los Angeles NOW” type of offbeat conservative, to cite just one example.

We’ll take a guess! Back when Cupp did that hour with Lamb, she was working on such a persona. She just wasn’t especially good at playing the part. Lamb kept inquiring about her deeply felt existential stance concerning religious belief. She kept giving him answers that did in fact seem rather dumb.

As it turns out, Cupp isn’t dumb! This week, her all-new Crossfire debuts, even as she pockets the honoraria from helping Sorkin get it right on his all-Newsroom!

As for Wagner, she reads script on The One True Channel. Life is good if you’re Wagner or Cupp, hauling the cable cash.


  1. Reminds me of the old ad where the actor says, "I'm no doctor, but I play one on TV."

    Cupp (or BillO): I'm no f'n idiot, but I play one on TV.

  2. OMB

    Once again its those damn cable TV wimmen getting paid for being telegenic or fetching. And youngish.

    The old bats just get to fill up space in print.

    Television, particularly paid Cable TV would be so much better if everyone did it simply for the love of the medium, like Cyberspace. This point can't be used to fill space in Cyberia enough BOB.

    EB, (the M "Bomber" from Doom)

  3. Great, now I have to check out Crossfire.

    Cupp never struck me as quite the bright young thing she purports to be. Certainly she has never seemed on a par with her brightest contemporaries -- sexy glasses notwithstanding.

    I saw her once hosting C-SPAN's "Book Notes," meaning she had to interview an author whose scholarly tome she had to read, and I thought she was pretty second rate, trying her best to evince a broad understanding of a subject she hadn't convincingly mastered.

    On "The Cycle" she seemed to forget much of the time that she was the show's lone conservative. When I watched she rarely showed much energy in bringing the alternative view to the ongoing liberal love fest. It was as if she would rather have been out having drinks with cool kids like Crystal, Toure, and Steve, rather than ruining her social chances by differing too much with the prevailing wisdom. Being the token contraryite is harder than it looks.

    Now, according to Howler, it appears she's finally found a place where she can finally shine. I'll have to check it out. I always thought she was a lot of good-looking sizzle in sexy glasses, but not a lot of steak. It would be nice to learn I've been wrong.

    But then, isn't O'Reilly "perfectly bright"?