Chelsea Clinton, who somehow lucked her way into a gig as an NBC contributor, made her network debut last night on Rock Center With Brian Williams. She reported on a segment about Annette Dove, a saintly after-school educator who works with disadvantaged youth in Pine Bluffs, Arkansas. She did just fine. No flubs, no ill-advised tangents — though when Clinton addressed Dove with “Yes, ma’am,” it wasn’t the most natural-seeming thing in the world, despite her Southern roots. But, as the Washington Post’s Hank Stuever wrote, Clinton doesn’t seem to have inherited either of her parents’ charisma.
“Either we’re spoiled by TV’s unlimited population of giant personalities or this woman is one of the most boring people of her era,” Stuever says, which would be fine, he notes, anywhere but on television. It’s true: Clinton’s delivery was poised, but it made very little about the very worthy Dove segment memorable, and the inevitable close attention to her blank-slate celebrity created a bit of an additional distraction from the story she was telling. After the taped segment, Brian Williams sat Clinton down to discuss Dove, but mostly as foreplay to asking her to explain why she’d decided to grace American living rooms with her presence (which surely he does for every new cub reporter!). He bid her good-bye with, ” In the months to come, we want to hear about you and your life,” and then, as an afterthought, “We want to hear about the lives of the people you’re going to highlight.”