Unnamed sources in a story published by the Los Angeles Times say former president Bill Clinton talked to NBC about hosting his own television show for $50 million. As of now, no one in a position to know (and willing to be named) has confirmed this. Clinton is apparently in Los Angeles for a Democratic fund-raiser, although the Times could not find a source willing to be named for this bit of information, either. So just what did Clinton talk about when he met with executives at NBC yesterday?
Until someone in a position to know goes on the record, we will have no idea. If it turns out he is in L.A. for a fund-raiser, I think this may be the clue to the reason for the visit to NBC. While thin on facts, the Times story does make a cogent point about the likelihood of a Clinton talk show: “Television executives doubted that Clinton would sign up for a demanding regimen of daily tapings for 39 weeks that such a show would require.” Perhaps. Further, the Times article quotes an academic source naysaying the idea:
“The price he could pay is so much higher than the potential payoff,” said Robert Thompson, a professor of media and pop culture at Syracuse University. “Clinton is obsessed with his legacy, and a talk show is not the best way to erase Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment and reposition himself in high school history books for his positive achievements. How does he maintain his dignity if he cashes in on his ‘Animal House’ presidency?”
It seems the professor has answered his own question. What legacy is possible for an “Animal House” presidency? It is likely that this story is a floater–a bit of information leaked to the press for the purpose of testing the idea with the public. This is a common practice in Washington politics. If the idea flies, go for it. If it flops, deny any inquiries every took place.