Why Al-Zawahri Would Fail as a Talk Show Host

The number two guy in al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, has just released a new video/audio attack on President-elect Barack Obama and America. The 11-minute, 23-second video features the audio message by al-Zawahri, who appears only in a still image, along with other images, including one of Obama wearing a Jewish skullcap. Ayman may be a heck of a terrorist, but in terms of vitriol, creativity, insult, and nuance he would be a lousy talk host.

First of all, a demo tape that runs nearly 12 minutes would be too long for a busy program director looking for new talent. He needs to tighten the message and keep it to around five to seven minutes of his “best stuff.” Inflection, passion, and intensity all seem to be lacking as well, though perhaps some things are lost in translation. Nevertheless, he certainly needs more “punch” in his delivery to make it as a host in either morning or afternoon drive time.

Second, Ayman shows a disturbing lack of creativity. In one of his anti-American riffs he notes: “America has put on a new face, but its heart full of hate, mind drowning in greed, and spirit which spreads evil, murder, repression and despotism continue to be the same as always." Come on Ayman, Keith Olbermann spews more venomous rhetoric than that on an off day.

And while the insults to Obama are intentionally provocative, grouping him as a “house negro” along with Condi Rice and Colin Powell simply moves the attack into the “been there done that” category. Liberal talk hosts have been throwing that, and worse, at Rice, Powell, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for years. That second-hand stuff might work in some on-line podcast but it won’t get you on Air America, Ayman, much less into major syndication!

Finally, the use of a bludgeon rather than a rapier indicates that Ayman is just not ready for prime time. Simply bashing Obama won’t work any better than it worked for his opponents in the primary and general election process. Nuance counts. Throw in a couple of parody songs next time; or, perhaps a few clips of Obama or Vice President-elect Joe Biden making their famous and frequent gaffes. And don’t forget the old standby of making a few slightly off-color references to the fact that the Clintons and their crew seem to be returning to the White House in droves. Listen to some tapes of Randi Rhodes featuring her anti-Hillary rants throughout the primary season, Ayman, and you can probably pick up some tips.

Granted, al-Zawahri is probably setting his sights on moving into the number one slot in al-Qaeda and replacing Osama Bin Laden rather than seriously considering a move into hosting a talk show in America. But if Obama forces the “Un-Fairness Doctrine” into law the new rules on “balance” and requirements of diverse opinion may create a lucrative opening for a guy just like Ayman!