March 18, 2004

Dennis Miller 3.17.04

Last night Dennis Miller was interviewing super-liberal media critic Eric Alterman --- well I guess you could call it an interview. Alterman was acting a bit sodden and was not terribly responsive to Dennis, leaning back in his chair with a long dark face. So, Dennis started mocking him.

Now, I'm a DM fan but I am the first to admit that he's got a long way to go as an interviewer. As primarily a standup comic in the past, he's just not used to not being the center of attention. A good interviewer will step aside and let the subject express himself.

Alterman didn't help the situation here. To me, he obviously had an "attitude" toward the now-reformed and conservative Dennis, and Dennis didn't like it. I can speak from my own experience as to how some hyperlefties really take it personal when you cross the aisle, and maybe Eric has this attitude toward Mr. Miller.

Dennis, just kept mocking Alterman and let him make his anti-Bush speech, then then quickly broke off to a commercial. Miller, after a few minutes of dealing with the guy, obviously wanted to move on as soon as possible.

All in all it was simply a strange thing to watch. This morning I wanted to see if Alterman had anything to say about it, so I found his blog on, where he didn't have an entry for today, but after the taping had updated his entry from yesterday announcing the gig, exhorting his followers to watch the show saying that "Dennis Miller is really weird."

I really have to sympathize with Mr. Alterman on this point, based on what I saw, but I think there was something else going on there. Even so, Dennis might have a hard time getting liberal guests in the future.

To extend the story, the very next guest was a liberal guy who wrote a book about poor people in America. But, Dennis seemed to be walking on eggs with him, knowing that he kind of fucked up with Alterman. This makes me wonder if the show might be on short leash. I'm reading elsewhere that the ratings are bad. I might not be commenting on this show again.

UPDATE: Here's Alterman's full take on his experience.

Posted by Wayne at March 18, 2004 07:14 PM

What I saw on the Internet didn't look as if Alterman was being problematic or even disinterested so much as what some people do whenever they're careful of an argument around a corner: they tread carefully. They want to make their point, but they know a shouting match looks bad. And it's not just when liberals are with conservatives, it happens on the flip side.

As for Alterman, there is one more important point to make: Miller called him to apologize, so, promisingly, that indicates ownership of an issue. (Alterman writes there wasn't much to the call: Alterman really didn't have time to talk.)

Posted by: Frank at March 23, 2004 05:07 AM

Thank you for being the first person to comment on my blog.

I haven't been following up on Alterman's blog since he doesn't interest me much. But, I'm glad to hear Dennis called him to apologize. If Denny has Eric back on his show that could generate some viewer ratings. That interview sure has caused a lot of people to visit this blog!

Posted by: Wayne at March 23, 2004 07:47 AM

I'm your first? Wow. I think that means you win a free copy of Alterman & Green's "The Book on Bush." Or, you can buy one at least. Congrats!

Posted by: Frank at March 23, 2004 07:59 AM

I think I'll pass on the book for now. Maybe I'll want to read it later this year. Thanks again for commenting.

Posted by: Wayne at March 23, 2004 10:28 AM
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