The former First Daughter gave her first effort as TV news reporter last night, providing media pundits the chance to dissect the most high-profile debut in some time. Chelsea Clinton is not a professional reporter, but she stepped into the news magazine business for the first time with her new gig on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams.
Clinton made her first with a report on a woman trying to help underprivileged kids in her home state of Arkansas. While not exactly war-zone-type stuff it also wasn't a frivolous puff piece either. She delivered an emotional and highly-personal story without making it about herself, they way many TV reporters do. Afterwards, she sat on the couch Brian Williams who praised the story, and indicated that Clinton's beat will include more like it — tales of people trying to make a difference in the world.
Those who did review her performance seemed to agree that it was nothing special — which we suppose is the whole point. She was bland, but unoffensive, competent, but uninspiring; smooth, but not slick. Everyone concedes that she was smart, a bit green, slightly nervous, and didn't exactly blow anyone away. A harsher reading, like the one from The Washington Post's Hank Steuver, would say that she lacked all charisma and might be "one of the most boring people of her era."
She obviously got a lot of help from the experienced NBC News people surrounding, but for someone with zero relevant job experience, you'd have to admit it was pretty good. Of course, that lack of experience leads many to question why the job went to her and not someone else who earned their stripes on the news beat, and could deliver a more dynamic performance. The answers are mostly obvious (name recognition, free publicity, connections), but as long as she delivers a competent job, then those complaints will go away. And give credit to Williams for not pretending that she was picked because she's Bill and Hillary's kid. The segment included talk of Clinton's life story and how it will inform her job at NBC.
There's a lot of cynicism in NBC's move and in Steuver's parting shot — that Clinton is naive to think TV's job is to "make a difference" — but we'd rather give her credit for trying. You can watch the whole segment below.