Tips on being a Cable TV “Talking Head”…

Excerpt from my book, “Don’t Pat Me on the Head”

….When I started doing cable I was way too serious. My mom would say, “Use your HUMOR!”, and she was right of course. It wasn’t that I took myself seriously, but I wasn’t confident enough to joke around. You cannot take yourself too seriously when you do cable hits. You’re on TV for three minutes, for heaven’s sake! Get over yourself. You’re not changing the world. You’re just a head in a box filling time in a 24 hours news cycle. 

You may only get ONE chance to say something important, so you need to be ready and be concise. It doesn’t matter how much the other person says as long as you get that zinger or that principle in. Many times you don’t get a chance to respond to other guests or even the host if time is tight, so you can’t explain yourself as thoroughly as you’d like to, but you can’t let it bother you. Besides, if I feel the urge, I have three hours on MY show tomorrow to clarify the record. 

Especially with MSNBC, the hate tweets would start immediately. I would barely be in the car and my phone would be dinging, dinging, dinging. I’m ugly, stupid and much worse. If you can’t handle it, don’t do it. I believe I’m right or I won’t say it, and I don’t even know these twitter trolls, so why would I care what they have to say about ANYTHING?  

As I said, most of the hosts have been great, right or left, but there have been exceptions. Once I was getting ready to go on an MSNBC show called 1600, I think. I don’t even remember who the host was, but as I was waiting my turn to go on, earpiece in my ear, listening to the people before me, I heard the host screaming at the guest. Uh oh, what was I in for?…

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