Al Roker: Slimmed Down But Not Ready to Step Up?

“Take over The Today Show? Sure. Right after I finish this hot dog.”

If it’s early in the morning and I’m trapped in a doctor’s office where the television is tuned to The Today Show, I don’t pay much attention to the various personalities on the program and their comings and goings.

So when it was mentioned that host Matt Lauer might be on the way out of the venerable show and NBC was looking at CNN’s Anderson Cooper as a possible replacement, posters on the National Association of Black Journalists rightfully wondered why is it (again) that Black talent can’t be found in the pipeline of possible replacements.

Possible replacement being Al Roker.  Mr. Weather Guy.  Mr. Gastric Bypass and Lost 100 Pounds.  Mr. “I Do the Lighter Segments on the Show.”

Al Roker?   Now why did that name escape me?

We are in “the pipeline” only if you think Al “I Crapped My Pants at The White House” Roker is a serious contender to move from Black Guy Comic Relief over to Lauer’s Big Chair.

I think we know better than that, don’t we?

You don’t have to lower yourself into stupidity to gain empathy, okay? If one of the unfortunate effects of Roker’s gastric bypass was unexpected and uncontrolled bouts of diarrhea, that’s understandable. But why tell the world? NOBODY needs to know that!

Slimmed down and ready to step up?

If you will do anything for a laugh and play yourself as the fool, you can’t turn around later and wonder why you’re not being taken seriously. Al Roker probably deserves a shot at replacing Matt Lauer as the host of The Today Show. But like Clint Eastwood growled, “Deserves got nothing to do with it.”

The problem of a blackout of Black talent from the television is an ongoing dilemma.   CNN has cast off Soledad O’Brien and told my old buddy Roland Martin to find another home for his contributions.    When MSNBC decided to shake up their prime time line-up, they exiled Ed Schultz to a weekend oblivion and promoted Chris Hayes over Melissa Harris-Perry as the newest sacrificial lamb to the “The O’Reilly Factor” juggernaut.    Byron Pitts left CBS and 60 Minutes  for another job at ABC leaving the venerable newsmagazine with no Black correspondent.

Yep, it’s a problem all right.   I’m just not convinced Al Roker is the solution.

By playing the fool so well and so long, Roker has effectively it impossible to be taken seriously. If you’re an executive at NBC and mulling over whom to replace Lauer because the President and the First Lady have invited the Today Show host in to speak to them, who would you rather have representing your show and network? Anderson Cooper or the guy who took a dump in his Dockers in the White House?

Too much information. Roker played himself. It’s not about any need to humiliate Roker or taking pleasure in his misfortune. It’s about when you know the odds are already stacked against you, but you’ve paid your dues and know the job, why ruin your own chances by demonstrating your unfitness are for the position?

Being mean about Roker, who seems like a genuinely nice guy feels a bit like kicking a kitten.  It’s completely  unjustifiable and unnecessary and I feel a little jerky for even mentioning it.

However, consistency means if I’m pulling for Black folks when they prove they are qualified for the job, I have to say “Sorry” when they show they are not.   Roker has played the second banana so well and for so long, it raises doubts he’d be a good fit in the Big Chair.

Nobody wants to see a brother get a break more than I do, but Roker’s image is one of  a former heavyweight who’s a total lightweight.

Heyyy baby, Even do it with gingerbread?