published Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Wamp sees his future as television host


by Dan Whisenhunt

Retiring Republican Rep. Zach Wamp on Tuesday criticized 24-hour news networks and said his future private-sector job may include being part of a television program.

Wamp, who spoke at a local Kiwanis Club luncheon at the Sheraton Read House, told the audience that "24/7 news is dumbing down America."

Wamp, the 3rd Congressional District representative for the past 16 years, gave up his seat in a failed run for governor.

After the Kiwanis meeting, Wamp, who has said he's not interested in the soon-to-be vacant county mayor's job, said he's committed to working in the private sector and indicated his comments are a prelude to what his new job might be.

"There's a possible media opportunity in addition to my other business," Wamp said.

Pressed further, Wamp said he meant "being on television" as a possible career choice, but offered few other specifics.

"The need is for a mature, responsible dissection of the anatomy of policy," Wamp said. "MSNBC and Fox News -- we're right and they're dumb -- is not good for the country."

Wamp said his TV show would be similar in nature to "The McLaughlin Group," a public affairs program that primarily runs on public television.

Wamp sounded similar bipartisan notes throughout his speech, saying some issues transcend party lines, such as drawing congressional districts, which he said should be done by an independent commission.

Representatives from the MSNBC and Fox News networks did not return messages seeking comment.

Richard Wilson, a professor of political science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said it's not unprecedented for former congressmen to pursue careers in television. But he said Wamp's comments might limit the channels where he will appear as a host or commentator.

"I don't know that his view of Fox News or MSNBC are going to make him popular with them, so I assume it's with a different network," Wilson said.

Contact staff writer Dan Whisenhunt at dwhisenhunt@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DWhisenhunt.

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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