Variety is reporting that conservative radio talker Laura Ingraham has been signed by Fox News Channel as a floating replacement host to fill in when the regular hosts of “The O’Reilly Factor” and “Hannity & Colmes” are not available. She is also pegged to appear on other programs not revealed.

In a press release, Ingraham said, “After years of guest appearances on FOX, I couldn’t be happier about the opportunity to add my voice to FNC’s stellar lineup.”

This is quite good news for both Ingraham and Fox. For that matter, it is good news for the viewer as well as conservatives because Ingraham is an articulate conservative that can easily go head-to-head against the best (or worst as the case may be) that the left has to offer. I look forward to seeing Ingraham taking on the left on Fox News in the near future. She also has been known not to let folks on her own side get off easily when they have disappointed her conservative principles, so she is not going to be just another yes man… or yes woman… for the right.

I wish Laura luck and look forward to seeing more of her.

So what, you may ask, did I mean by my headline about pugnacity not being telegenic?

Because, Ingraham is taking the place of the apparently departed Michelle Malkin and therein lies the tale.

Now, before you go imagining that I am attacking Michelle, let me disabuse you of that notion. Michelle is an incredibly beautiful, smart woman and is one of the few thus far who have been able to translate her presence on the Internet to wider exposure than the WWW. She has appeared on TV, published a book, and gotten columns in the MSM. She has been quite successful thus far and has deserved that success.

She is tireless in propounding conservative principles, quick witted, confident and forceful. But, she has one tiny little aspect that does not come across well and that is her pugnacity. And that pugnacity has made her a lightning rod for controversy. Now, don’t get me wrong, controversy isn’t necessarily bad, but what we have with Michelle is a bit of a wild streak and that wild streak reveals itself at times in injudicious language. She can be likened to Ann Coulter in style and that is the style of a polemicist…. that’s a crap stirrer for those of you in Rio Linda.

The upshot is, Malkin’s pugnacity tends to cause her to feud with people far too easily to be considered a “serious” commentator. By the quote marks around serious, I mean that her occasionally injudicious language and pugnacious personality detracts from her being taken seriously by those not already on her side. In short, she can too easily be portrayed as a ranter.

And this, I’ll wager, is the reason Fox now favors Ingraham over Malkin as fill in host. In fact, I’d also wager that this is about the end of Michelle’s rise upward on Fox and will represent the first step back down the rungs of the ladder sending her back to “just” a blogger. It is quite possible that Malkin may start to find her Fox appearances beginning to dry up.

I am not predicting Michelle’s demise, really, as I am sure she will continue to do well in the blogosphere. But, I feel her TV days could be appearing in her rearview mirror.

Now, with this tale comes a lesson. If you want to be considered a serious commentator, the Ann Coulter/Michelle Malkin school of pugnacity should be avoided. Again, let me be crystal clear. I am NOT saying that we should let our enemies define us by claiming that a sharp retort makes our positions untenable. I am saying that if we want to be considered serious commentators we need to keep the volatile language to a bare minimum and not make it a central part of our style.

It’s not just a way to appease those against our point of view, it’s just the civil and serious thing to do. Yes, there is a time and a place for the sharp retort, the occasional name-calling, but making it a common part of your argument diminishes the argument and your reputation, both.

So, hooray for Laura and a warning for Michelle is the end result of this Fox News Channel decision. I wish them both luck and good fortune.

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