For a guy who as recently as April sounded pretty ambivalent about the job, Lawrence O’Donnell made a reasonably smooth debut on Monday as part of MSNBC’s primetime lineup, technical glitches notwithstanding.
Following Rachel Maddow and featuring MSNBC heavyweight Keith Olbermann as a guest, O’Donnell conducted an extensive interview with Vice President Joe Biden, exhibited his savvy regarding how the Senate operates (he spent years as an aide there) and threw in the obligatory pop-culture bit by exploring “Saturday Night Live’s” spoof of bizarro Delaware senate candidate Christine O’Donnell.
A snafu with the TelePrompTer notwithstanding, the hour (meaninglessly titled “The Last Word”) fit smoothly enough into MSNBC’s left-leaning lineup, and gave the channel a jump on changes coming at CNN, beginning with next week’s launch of “Parker-Spitzer.”
Granted, there’s a sameness to the MSNBC hosts in terms of their political slant that could easily grow tiresome, but that certainly hasn’t hampered Fox News. And O’Donnell is curmudgeon-ly enough to take Democrats to task where he sees fit, while (inevitably) reserving his harshest criticism for Republicans.
Such is the cable news world now: Left, right, and the middle-of-the-road mess that is CNN, which has just handed the shovel to a new exec.
In that April interview, O’Donnell — who produced on “The West Wing” and later created the short-lived “Mr. Sterling” — expressed a preference for writing and producing to talking politics. But there’s a shortage of folks who can effectively front such a show, and as he demonstrated in his fill-in work, he’s clearly one of them.
If nothing else, then, O’Donnell appears to have found a comfortable night job until a day one comes around.