That would be Chelsea, daughter of Hillary and Bill, who made her debut as a television correspondent last night on NBC, first on the “Nightly News” and later on “Rock Center.”
I have to say this: I was staggeringly unimpressed. And more than a little annoyed.
Broadcasting is an intensely collaborative medium, so it’s hard to discern how much of her report was actually done by her, how much was written/rewritten by her producer, and how much was artfully sewn together by a video editor with a wizard-like mastery of Final Cut Pro.
But based on what we could discern — her on camera presence and off-camera read — Chelsea seems uncomfortable and ill-equipped for being a broadcaster. Her personality and demeanor don’t invite you to listen; her bland affect instead says “Look away. Nothing to see here. Move on. Keep moving.” (She’s one of the few people I’ve seen in television whom I might actually describe as “disengaging.”) She seems a good listener, but not a good talker; this only becomes worse when she’s paired with someone like Brian Williams — who is every bit as poised and polished and professional as she isn’t. And she is burdened with a voice that is sadly, drearily inexpressive. She needs training. Lots of training. And practice. And experience.
That may come. But I can’t escape the unnerving feeling that, professionally or personally, this is someone who just hasn’t earned this, and probably never thought about a career in television until a few weeks ago. Across three decades in this business, I’ve seen too many resume reels from people a lot better: bright, eager reporters her age who have covered fires, listened to police scanners, stood in the rain outside a hospital, called up grieving widows to ask “What are you thinking?” They have sacrificed holidays and weekends to sit through school board meetings, lived off bad coffee and stale sandwiches, endured stakeouts during blizzards and live shots during hurricanes and gone without relationships and children and a decently furnished apartment just to have the kind of opportunity now handed on a prime time platter to a marginal talent like Chelsea.
It ain’t right. And that’s sad. But ’twas ever thus. I’m reminded of something another child of privilege said 50 years ago. “Life,” explained John Kennedy, “isn’t fair.”
And so it goes.