Memo to CNN and MSNBC: Hire Larry Wilmore

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Comedy Central abruptly pulled the plug on Larry Wilmore’s “Nightly Show” less than 80 days before a presidential election. Ratings were the obvious cause, with Wilmore losing almost 60 percent of the audience he inherited from Stephen Colbert in the same time slot.

In this space a few days ago, I cited one of the primary reasons Wilmore wasn’t resonating: He was more interested in serious commentary — mostly about racial issues — than the kind of biting comedy the channel’s viewers were so accustomed to once via Colbert or Jon Stewart. And a majority of Comedy Central viewers weren’t embracing it.

For an advocate like Wilmore, right idea, wrong platform.

{mosads}But now out of work and likely not terribly expense to sign, Jeff Zucker’s CNN or Phil Griffin’s MSNBC should be taking a long, hard look at adding the 54-year-old to the roster, post-election.

Why after November 8? Because the challenges of keeping viewers around after 18 months of dominating the airwaves will be substantial.

And that challenge just doesn’t apply to CNN or MSNBC, but Fox News as well. All will have to pivot back to their 2014 form, which will be easier said than done. Segments won’t write themselves like they do in an era of Trump or Clinton, two of the most untrustworthy, unlikable and therefore target-rich candidates to run for the highest office in the land.

And if Clinton wins — and that’s not much of an “if” as things stand right now — things on the cable news front under a risk-averse, media-unfriendly administration will be downright boring compared to what viewers are being served up now.

With such transition means finding new talent. Most of Trump and Clinton surrogates/pundits added to network rosters likely won’t survive when the calendar turns to 2017.

Which brings us back to Wilmore. Note: While he wasn’t — by design — exactly a barrel of laughs on “The Nightly Show” and obviously didn’t connect with a good chunk of the Comedy Central audience, his brand of racial commentary would be downright perfect for cable news.

He knows how to make an argument, knows what buttons to push. He’s experienced — as the one-time “Daily Show” Senior Black Correspondent — in the sense of knowing how to make his points in soundbites, which in a “sorry-we’re-out-of-time” world of cable news is an art not enough talking heads seem to understand.

So that’s the memo to MSNBC and CNN: Next year won’t be pretty. You already fully understand the task at hand.

Want to shake things up with someone authentic, passionate, prepared and provocative?

Look no further to one Elister L. Wilmore.

Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags 2016 election CNN Comedy Central Fox News Channel Larry Wilmore Late Night MSNBC Pundit TV United States

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