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Dennis Miller on The Downslide

:: I’ve been a huge fan of Dennis Miller for years. I liked him on SNL, loved his Chicago-based talk show way back when, and enjoyed his wisecracking on HBO for nine years. Now he’s on CNBC, has shifted considerably to the right, and the change doesn’t suit him. He’s become mean-spirited and hard-edged, and disappointingly, very unlikeable.

Last night he “interviewed” Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media?, and co-author of The Book on Bush. Miller blew the interview so badly that it was literally painful to watch. He treated Alterman rudely, was obviously unprepared in advance, acted like a kid who couldn’t get his own way, and ended the interview abruptly, mocking Alterman by turning to the camera, saying, “OK, you’re great, come back anytime soon.” As one contributor on RateItAll noted, “it was the most embarrassing train wreck I have ever seen.” South Knox Bubba provides a great blow-by-blow description of what went down during the interview. Better still, watch the interview here, and cringe as it progresses.

But the best viewpoint of what happened last night comes from Alterman himself:

    Since my hotel here in Santa Monica does not get CNBC, I remain among the category of the vast majority of my fellow countrymen and women who have never seen the Dennis Miller show. So I don’t know how it looked to its miniscule audience. There is a description here, however.

    Anyway, what was so weird about it was how professional it seemed until I finally sat down with Miller. It was set up long in advance by the book’s publicists. The car came on time. In my dressing room, which was pretty elaborate as such things go, I met with a series of staff members who informed me that Dennis would be wanting to discuss topics such as George Soros and the funding of 527s; whether Bush was exploiting the 9/11 families, and I forget what else, just like a real talk show. Then I go out there and what? I’m talking to a stoned teenager, who can’t be bothered to say more than, “Whoh, man, you are so totally screwed up. Like, you really believe that stuff, dude?” I paraphrase, but really, Dennis did not say much more than that. Everyone on staff was extremely apologetic afterward and the word “unprofessional” was used over and over.

    I try to avoid most of these guys, though I’ve been on O’Reilly, and Scarborough and Michael Medved’s silly radio program a couple of times but never have I encountered a guy who could not be bothered to make his own case on his own show. Really, what can CNBC be thinking with this guy? His ratings are not just in the toilet they have traveled all the way to the septic tank. And as we all know, they need to pay audience members to show up. It has got to cost more than the Phil Donahue show to produce, given the size of the audience and the set and that was yanked even though it was then the highest rated show on MSNBC.

    I used to think I should be given half of Joe Scarborough’s show. His ratings aren’t so hot and we sort of get along and things could only improve. Now, perhaps I should be patient and just wait for Miller to implode a couple of more times and then offer my services to the machers up at NBC News. No need for lengthy negotiations. I’ll take whatever Dennis was getting, plus money for liquor and food for my friends when they do the program.

What’s annoying to me is that for years, I chose Miller as my favorite all-around performer – a great comedian, I loved the non-sequitors and obscure references, and he was an entertainer who gave credit where and when credit was due. He never seemed to take for granted that he was one of the lucky ones who made it in “the biz.” Now he’s kissing Dubya’s Texas behind, giving Bush “a pass” on his show. That’s his right, so to speak. But if he is going to treat the guests on his show who don’t side with him with no dignity or respect, why bother going through the motions? Instead, feature a bevy of right-wing nutbags and turn it into a 21st century version of the Rush Limbaugh show. And his sidekick on the show is a monkey. No, really. A monkey. And people in the audience get paid to be there.

Dennis! Say it ain’t so. Come back, we miss you.

8 Responses to “Dennis Miller on The Downslide”

  1. JenB Says:

    We stopped watching Dennis a while ago. He did get mean and a little too Right for my liking. I prefer Bill Maher or Jon Stewart. Blah.

  2. rpr Says:

    Alterman has responded to those who wrote to his blog about the interview. What’s interesting is that Alterman doesn’t feature only e-mails who support him, but e-mails from those who think he’s out of it as well. Unlike Miller, he doesn’t mind presenting an opposing viewpoint.

  3. Garth Danielson Says:

    I used to like Dennis on HBO and he was one of the reasons I kept getting it for a long time. I never thought he was one of the best commedians, I just liked the mix on the HBO show. Sometimes he was crappy and he can not interview a guest to save his life but generally he was funny for a while. I did like his rants.

    The best commedians, in my mind are Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, Rock’s two HBO specials are arguabely the best standup specials ever, they are undescribably funny and witty and so dead on, they are available on DVD and worth watching again and again. Rock was voted the best stand up in america just recently…he’s touring and working on his next HBO special. Dave Chappelle, whose Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central is mostly pretty funny but certainly not to everyone’s taste. High brow and low brow in a humorous trainwreck, mixed with drugs and pee.

    Hands down the funniest show on tv right now is the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

  4. Murph Says:

    Alterman is mostly publishing the letters from right-wing loons who can’t spell and have trouble stringing together two or more organized thoughts. And indeed, that may be all he’s getting in the mailbox.

    Randy, what’s with quoting entire pieces, rather than cherry picking and then letting the reader move over to the other site?


  5. rpr Says:

    I’m too lazy to cherry pick at the moment, and for many readers, it’s easiest to read it on one site. I don’t do it much. Let me know if you would prefer I not do it again with any of your posts, and I will honour that request.

  6. NOT Abercrombie Chick Says:

    Eh, he was never that good.

  7. thatcoloredfella Says:

    rpr, U pretty much described how I evolved as a Dennis Miller! He was one of the main reasons I got cable and HBO.

    I didn’t believe his Conservative conversion until I stopped laughing 15 minutes into ‘The Raw Feed’. He launched into an assault on teachers and the NEA, then I turned the DVD off.

    Just before the CNBC gig, he didn’t dare launch into his new found Righteous riffs on Bill Maher’s Real Time. He wanted to lure as many of his old Lefty base to his new show before they got wise.

    I am truly stumped and dumbfounded as to how a perceptive, logical and passionate Libertarian (my view), who made me feel smart cus I got the obscure refs, could morph into a sad, greedy tool of the Right.

    The fact that a man I so admired would now make baseless, distorted and partisan claims, made me hate him more than Sean Hannity.

    The few times I’ve watched his show, it was enjoyable a disaster. But, now that my wish came true, I’m a little sad for him…just a little.

  8. JOE Says:

    Dennis Miller was NEVER a libertarian. Are u kidding me? If that’s the case then he went more to the LEFT upon starting this show. ARE U NUTS? Miller was slightly liberal before bush was elected. But he slowly moved toward the right on only certain issues, one of which was iraq. i LOVED Dennis’ approach to this guy. I was laughing my ass off. He was so ridiculous that Miller chose to simply ignore him. I wouldn’t have had the balls to do that. OF COURSE THE WORLD HATES THE U.S. RIGHT NOW. IT’S NOT ABOUT THAT!. It’s about protecting america for terrorism in the LONG RUN. The idea is that in 8 years, if Iraq is stable, and more people have jobs, money, etc. People will say “Hey, wow, maybe the USA really DID help those people out.” You guys are so ignorant. If you knew anything about these issues you’d know that things change when people have MONEY. Terrorists have nothing, they are indoctrinated and poverty stricken, but give the iraqi people financial foundation and education, and they won’t hate us so much. In other words, Iraq could in the future serve as a tool to fight terrorism in MANY ways. This is aside from the evidence that every country had that Iraq had wmds. There are many more arguments here, but i don’t feel like wasting them on you. Why don’t you read up, learn, and then analyze what the situation was right before Iraq. Why do you think all those Dems in congress authorized war?? You have to act on the intelligence you have at the time. EVEN WITHOUT THE WMDS, GOING TO IRAQ WAS WORTH IT BECAUSE BY GIVING THESE PEOPLE A BETTER LIFE, WE ARE FIGHTING TERRORISM ALL OVER THE WORLD FOR YEARS AND YEARS TO COME.

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