Tucker Carlson becomes the second MSNBC stalwart to be displaced by Rick Kaplan’s new favorite Rita Cosby as the network announces that “Rita Cosby: Live and Direct” will be premiering on Monday, August 8th at 9 pm – Tucker Carlson’s timeslot. Ouch. “The Situation With Tucker Carlson” will be moved to 11 pm, bringing MSNBC’s total of first-run primetime programming hours to six. Per the press release, Rick Kaplan’s excited about bringing a live show to the West Coast’s 8pm audience; we can assume that Tucker’s excited about going head-to-head with “The Daily Show” and reruns of “The O’Reilly Factor.” Or not. After weeks of critical reviews and dire predictions (Alessandra Stanley, anyone?) – not to mention a pretty impressive advertising juggernaut (including commercials for Tucker during “The Daily Show,” which was pretty bold), this is not a vote of confidence for team Tucker. Then again, the show’s been running for a grand total of a month and a half. Anyone remember when Jon Stewart played opposite Gillian Anderson and a large fluffy dog in “Playing By Heart?” Point being, these things take time. Rita Cosby will be bringing a fan base to her show, and frankly it would have been cool to see what a woman could do with that late-night slot. I would have guessed that people would have tuned in specifically to see it, and “Scarborough Country” viewers would have stuck around to check it out. Instead, Kaplan panics and yanks a fledgling show, dumping it in an end-of-day timeslot up against two juggernauts, and puts all its money on Rita. Yeah, mid-August is a good time to see how that one plays out.
Update: Tucker and everyone else at MSNBC disagrees with me. Okay then.