Today's Chicago Tribune carries a story centering on talk show pioneer Phil Donahue and the anti-war documentary he's peddling these days. The article is headlined:
"Phil Donahue, 'Body of War' battle to get into theaters
Former talk show host makes truth his mission, now on other side of the camera"
The headline would have been more accurate had it allowed that Donahue makes his truth his mission. An example of the truth, Donahue-style, included in the Tribune's story: "He's (Donahue) convinced the anti-war tone of his MSNBC talk show, which aired for a little more than six months, contributed to its demise."
The contention that Phil's MSNBC program was dropped unfairly is a popular theme with him. In the November 1, 2006 Fairfield (CT) Citizen News, Donahue is quoted: "We were canceled because of my political posture; my stance against the war. Our ratings entitled us to be nurtured not canceled."
Just needed a little nurturing, heh, Phil? How much nurturing is necessary when a show draws, as Donahue's did on at least one occasion, a puny 0.1 rating, an indicator that only 137,000 households are watching? How much nurturing is required when you're getting clobbered in the ratings by CNN's "Connie Chung Tonight"?
Chicago Sun-Times media reporter Phil Rosenthal wrote in his February 26, 2003 column that Donahue began his MSNBC venture by declaring that "if we don't make noise in six months, it's going to be hard for me to tell my family that I was treated unfairly."
Yet that's precisely what Donahue did. A February 28, 2003 Associated Press story begins:
"Phil Donahue struck back at MSNBC on Wednesday for his firing, suggesting the network was too quick to pull the trigger and that it might be trying to 'out-fox Fox' with conservative voices."
That's the sort of prescience we've come to expect from Donahue. With conservative stalwarts such as Keith Olbermann and Chris "Obama sends a thrill up my leg" Matthews filling the hours at MSNBC, we can see how it's managed to out-fox Fox.
It's all part of the truth, Donahue-style.