President Trump's nomination of a former Fox News and ABC News journalist, Heather Nauert, to be the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is drawing criticism for what the naysayers perceive as the nominee's lack of experience in global affairs.
How dare he nominate a mere television personality to represent the United States in the U.N.! Never mind that Nauert has been employed in the State Department since 2017 as spokesperson (with the title of Under Secretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs).
She has traveled the world as part of this job, and also did quite a bit of reporting around the globe during her stints at Fox News and ABC. Whether or not her globetrotting qualifies her for this U.N. job is best left to others to determine.
This TV Blog is more about the scorn some people harbor for other people who take up careers in the professions of journalism and television.
An op-ed piece in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal decried the way many people in the news media -- Nauert’s fellow journalists -- are dismissing her, as if representing the United States in the United Nations is too holy a role for a mere journalist to undertake.
But what really caught my attention was this op-ed column pointing out that Nauert is being dismissed in numerous places as just a “talking head,” which is really one of the worst insults you can level at anyone whose job includes appearing on TV and talking.
The phrase “talking head” has come to be a synonym for airhead. The implications are that “talking heads” are people who go on TV to spout off on subjects they know little about. The phrase also implies that they are little more than idiots.
I am vaguely acquainted with Heather Nauert from her days as a contributing reporter for a Fox News Channel late-afternoon talk show called “The Big Story” that was hosted by John Gibson. He invited me on the show from time to time, and I also appeared in one or two of Heather’s stories in which I was interviewed by her. She was very good.
In addition to working as a TV reporter, Nauert also worked as a co-host on an early morning talk show on Fox-owned Ch. 5 in New York, filled in as an anchor on Fox News Channel and was even co-host of “The Big Story” alongside Gibson in the show’s final year. She worked at ABC News too.
She should not be dismissed as a mere “talking head.” Professionals who take up the job of talking on TV are often so good at their jobs that they make the act of talking on television seem easy.
Unknowledgeable observers then come to the erroneous conclusion that the job is easy. It is not, however. It takes skill, just like a host of other occupations.
What is true, however (and this is the point of this TV Blog at long last), is that TV is rife with talking heads in the worst sense of the phrase.
They are know-nothings whose greatest skill is a talent for saying yes whenever a harried, desperate talk show booker calls from one of the news channels and asks them to come on and participate in a panel on the day's hot topic.
It matters not one bit to the booker or the invitee if this person knows anything about the topic or not, just as long as he or she can fake it well enough to sound knowledgeable.
This is the great con that the three news channels -- Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN -- are playing on the unsuspecting public: Most, if not all, of the journalists, so-called “insiders” and alleged experts who give their opinions on the news channels’ talk show all day long and in the evening are no more qualified to speak on these subjects than you or I.
As for Heather Nauert, she is no mere talking head. Whether this qualifies her for this U.N. post is something Donald Trump is in a better position to judge than I am.