The Cutline

Critics on Chelsea Clinton’s ‘Rock Center’ debut: Boring!

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Cutline

Chelsea Clinton made her first appearance on NBC's "Rock Center With Brian Williams"--and ostensibly her debut as a  journalist--on Monday, delivering a short video report on poverty in her home state of Arkansas. And television critics, while polite, were unimpressed.

"Chelsea Clinton didn't electrify broadcast journalism with her debut," the Washington Post's Hank Steuver wrote, "because she has no experience in broadcast journalism."

Clinton "seems like a very nice young woman" who is "obviously very bright," Newsday's Verne Gay wrote. "Otherwise, there was nothing else that necessarily dismissed charges that she got this job because of that name. Her voice--the first time most of us have even heard it--was pleasing and plummy, but monochromatic; in the obligatory crosstalk with Williams following her report, she exhibited the spontaneity of any TV rookie."

"What was surprising to see on Monday night's show," Steuver added, "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. 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."

"Chelsea doesn't 'pop' off the screen, to use an industry term," the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz wrote. "Her demeanor is reserved, she doesn't project her voice like a broadcaster. Not that most viewers probably cared. Her best moments were in the subsequent conversation with Williams. Though slightly nervous, she seemed sincere, and her careful cadence, empathetic gaze, and beaming smile were instantly reminiscent of Hillary."

But that nervousness was endearing to at least one critic.

"Ms. Clinton is a little self-conscious on camera and doesn't have the kind of richly modulated anchor voice most television reporters acquire," Alessandra Stanley wrote in the New York Times. "But that actually gave her piece a more natural feel--like a video blog on Current TV.

Clinton admitted to Williams that she has consciously avoided the limelight. "For most of my life I did deliberately lead a private life," she said.

The former first daughter told Williams her late grandmother encouraged her to leverage her celebrity for good. "She had been cajoling me and challenging me to do more with my life, to lead more of a purposefully public life," Clinton said. "That being Chelsea Clinton had happened to me and that I had a responsibility to do something with that asset and opportunity."

When she spoke of her grandmother, "the voice warmed," Gay added. "A relatable human being emerged."

Watch the entire segment below.

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