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Better Without Hume

Reported by Nancy - November 23, 2004 -

Brian Wilson sat in for Brit Hume last night (11/22) on Special Report, & the tone of the entire program improved markedly.

The improvement was most apparent in the second half of the program. During the "Grapevine" segment of the program, beginning at 6:31pm (ET), Wilson used the same "mini-blurb" format that Hume uses, but without the smirks & sarcastic tone of voice. Items in this segment included: a plane intended to transport GHWBush to Ecuador crashed on its way to pick him up; a video game maker has released a new game called "JFK Reloaded"; the DNC seems likely to pick either Dean or Vilsack for its next chair; Zell Miller is still ranting; the outcome of the San Diego mayor's race is still undecided; USDA forecasts record farm profits, but small farmers may not agree with rosy outlook; the US is critical of how the Ukraine conducted recent elections. Wilson reported each in a simply straightforward manner.

When Wilson went to the next segment at 6:44pm (ET) -- the panel discussion that Hume also uses -- again the tone was significantly different [comment: & significantly better]. Panelists included Fred Barnes (Fox), Jeff Birnbaum (WaPo) & Juan Williams (NPR) -- all regulars on this program. Both Williams & Birnbaum seemed more at ease with Wilson than they normally do with Hume. Both even disagreed openly with Barnes, especially when discussing the possibilities that Arafat's death has opened up for some kind of agreement between the Palestinians & Israelis. Barnes was extremely negative (Palestinians have been taught to hate, that won't change), while both Birnbaum (picking Abu Mazen is a good sign, he's a moderate) & Williams (if elections go as planned, it would be the first real Arab democracy, which would be a great achievement) were cautiously optimistic. Williams even told Barnes not to "demonize" all Palestinians, after Barnes made the remark about them being taught to hate.

Finally, Wilson ended the program as Hume usually does, with a clip from one of the previous night's late-night comedy shows. Wilson picked a clip from Jay Leno purporting to show how delighted Rumsfeld is to be keeping his job (Rummy's head was pasted onto a body doing a silly dance). Again, this is in stark contrast to Hume, who almost invariably picks a clip that mocks a Dem (despite the fact that the late-night comedy shows lampoon both GOPs & Dems about equally).