Monday, August 31, 2009

It's good to have options.

Cannot let the news about Jenna Bush Hager's new job go unmolested. Hager, if you hadn't heard, will be filing monthly stories, probably on education, for NBC's Today Show. She got the job because NBC producer Jim Bell thought she handled herself well during a few appearances on Today two years ago. At that time, she was promoting her book on HIV-infected kids. (When she's not taking time out for book deals or to accept plum assignments from Today, Hager is a grade-school teacher in Baltimore.)

"It wasn't something I'd always dreamed to do," Hager said of her new network slot. "B
ut I think one of the most important things in life is to be open-minded and to be open-minded for change."

You know, Jenna, I'm glad you're open-minded to this kind of change, because there are people who do dream about such a job. In fact, believe it or not, they go to school for it; I met hundreds of them at Indiana University, where I taught journalism for a time. They dutifully complete all the required coursework, then they trudge through a few (typically unpaid) internships, and then, if they're lucky, they land a first (barely paying) job reading the morning traffic reports for KTVO-3 in Ottumwa, Iowa, or some other minor-market station. And if they're super-lucky, that job leads to something a little better in a town people have actually heard of. It almost never leads to a cameo slot on the Today Show. And if it does, it's not because some high-profile producer in New York reached out to them.

Maybe for her first piece, Hager can interview Chesley Sullenberger. Who knows, a newly minted best-selling author* himself, Sully might have some valuable thoughts on how to redesign the American educational system. (After all, he can fly and land a plane.) Or maybe she can interview good old Dad and ask him why, despite his own considerable education, he still says things like nuke-ya-lar and misunderestimated...

* Technically Sully's book isn't out yet. But when a guy gets $3 mill for a book, I think we can safely call him a best-selling author.


RevRon's Rants said...

There 'ya go, Steve... attacking family traditions. If history repeats itself, the ratings for the show will plummet rapidly, whereupon Halliburton will start buying commercial spots at inflated rates. Shortly thereafter, Jenna will move on to yet another venture for which she is equally qualified.

VW = press

Cal said...

This is NBC's second hire that I assume is supposed to try and get the 20somethings to watch NBC. First, it was Luke Russert and now Jenna Bush.

One of the issues I was hoping would go away with the passing of Ted Kennedy was the idea of just because one is a member of the lucky sperm club, you get many legs up in life.

Guess I am wrong. Jenna and Luke will be our lives for a very long time.

Elizabeth said...

C'mon, Steve, you're just jealous. ;)

I'm sure the decision to hire a part-time 27-year-old school teacher as the NBC Today's expert on education was totally based on merit. As were the decisions to publish her two books, "War and Peace," and "Infinite Jest."

Oh, wait... Those were written by some other people.

But, anyway, this has nothing to do with her being Jenna. It's just being Bush.

(Or Clinton, or Kennedy, yes.)

Steve Salerno said...

Cal: One hates to be a smart-ass, or to participate in the sullying of someone's character, but I had to smile at the your use of "legs up" (as opposed to the singular "leg up"); the term seems to have a particular relevance in this case, given much of what is said about Jenna's college habits.

Cal said...


I need a proofreader...haha

I'm my own Yogi Berra.

Steve Salerno said...

Cal, no, I think you got it right the first time. "Legs up" may be perfect here. ;)

Cal said...

In equal-opportunity sullying of the two people mentioned in my original reply (in a post that means Capt. Sully no less-- hilarious to me), there was an infamous picture of Luke Russert in a hot tub surrounded by scantily clad co-eds on one of those social networking sites. The pic was pulled, I believe, once it became known who Luke was. So the phrase I used can apply to the young Mr. Russert's social life in college also.

Since I'm going sophomoric here, I might as well relate this story. As most NFL fans, the preseason games in local markets are done by announcers picked by the teams themselves. Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann (two of the trio that did ESPN's Sunday Night and, later, Monday Night Football for many years) do the Washington Redskins preseason telecasts.

Patrick was doing an ad saying that fans can follow the team at Patrick asked Theismann if he twittered. Joe responded to that he didn't. Theismann said (I'm paraphrasing), "First there was e-mail, then there was texting, then twitter, and now (twackle)...." Instead of twackle, Joe said "twitter", except he substitued an "a" for the "i" in the word. And he said it several times. Patrick laughed and said the word is "twackle". I had a major LOL moment myself, as I had thought of variation myself when I first heard the term twitter.

And the "legs up" is appropriate for Theismann, as he was quite the ladies man throughout his life as a QB at Notre Dame and for the Redskins.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't she interview Luke Russert, Elanor Mondale, Maria Shriver-Schwarzenegger, Michael Reagan and Ivanka Trump for a round table discussion about being members of The Lucky Sperm Club?

She didn't take a coveted slot at a respected news organization - she's going to work for NBC.

Steve Salerno said...

I also want to add, briefly, that this goes back to my point in SHAM (which I really make by quoting someone else, and forgive me for not having that attribution handy) about how the U.S. is the "least credential-conscious society" in the free world. We'll take advice from anyone (and PAY for it!), we'll anoint people to exalted positions they have no business occupying, etc. It boggles the mind. An actress becomes a celebrity and suddenly we're attending her lectures on global warming...