‘So Little Charisma’: Chelsea Clinton’s NBC Debut Falls Flat With Critics

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While it was never going to have the magnitude of the moon landing, the amount of hype leading up to Chelsea Clinton’s debut appearance on NBC’s Rock Center With Brian Williams was akin to one small step for Chelsea, one giant leap for network television.

The special correspondent may not have experience in broadcast journalism, but that didn’t stop NBC from being pretty pleased about signing Clinton up. And for their “Making a Difference” segment, Clinton’s first piece took her to Pine Bluff, in her home state of Arkansas. The purpose of the piece was to profile Annette Dove, a woman who runs an after-school center called TOPPS (Targeting Our People’s Priority with Service) who admirably helps neglected children.

(PHOTOS: Chelsea Clinton: A Life in Pictures)

But what did the critics make of it? “What was surprising to see on Monday night’s show is how someone can be on TV in such a prominent way and, in her big moment, display so very little charisma — none at all,” began the Washington Post‘s Hank Stuever. “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.” Gulp.

Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times wasn’t much kinder (“Television doesn’t often lend its stars dignity, but it is the great equalizer: almost anyone on it long enough can become as well known as the parents who helped get them the job.”) but cannily conceded that “Clinton is a little self-conscious on camera and doesn’t have the kind of richly modulated anchor voice most television reporters acquire, but that actually gave her piece a more natural feel.”

And Newsday’s Verne Gay was willing to look past her “monochromatic” presentation style, offering the following piece of advice: “Work out the kinks. Master the craft. Learn what it really means to be a reporter. Hopefully, in time, she will.” (via Newser)

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