Phil Donahue isn't apologizing one bit for his passionate leanings to the
"No one wants to be called a liberal. Conservative is good and liberal is
bad. Conservatives criticize government and liberals criticize business,"
Donahue said Wednesday at the Television Critics Tour in Pasadena, Calif. "To
them [conservatives] we have a few words: Enron, WorldCom."
After a six-year absence from television, Donahue returns July 15 on MSNBC.
His new cable show Donahue! airs at 8 p.m., head-to-head with CNN's new
star Connie Chung and Fox News' conservative yakker Bill O'Reilly (who reigns as
cable's highest-rated news show).
The former syndication king shrugs off competition in his dog-eat-dog time
slot. He doesn't plan to compete with Connie Chung for exclusive "get"
interviews. O'Reilly's style and stance are different. Donahue, instead, says he
is looking to serve the "many Americans that would be grateful for showcasing of
voices not often heard on cable." Mainly, his own.
Donahue is the centerpiece of MSNBC's transition to the talk-radio format,
the one ratings-leader Fox News seems to have perfected.
Also debuting July 15 is an afternoon show will conservative commentator Pat
Buchanan and liberal analyst Bill Press (both are CNN Crossfire alums).
Donahue's lead-in, Simply Nachman, hosted by New York media vet Jerry
Nachman, also bows Monday. "These are not people doing relationship shows on
talk radio," Nachman said.
Sorenson prickles at any assertion that MSNBC is abandoning its hard-news
roots to get there.
Live news updates will sandwich talk shows and Sorenson promises breaking
news will always take precedent over programming. MSNBC's changing, he explains,
because by prime time viewers need perspective on news, not just headlines.
"Twenty-two minutes of nightly news or a five minute radio blast is all
viewers need. The news doesn't change much from morning to night," Sorenson