He’s been dead less than 48 hours and already the speculation has started
as to who might replace him.

At the end of a lengthy obit in The Australianthis morning, D.D McNicoll and Amanda Meade put forward a bunch of names as
possible contenders for the impossible task of filling Richard Carleton’s shoes
on 60 Minutes.

From the Nine News stable they nominate Mark Burrows, Robert Penfold, and
Michael Usher. Karl Stefanovic, the pretty-boy co-host of Today, is also
mentioned along with ex-Nine journos now working abroad, Hugh Rimington and
Michael Holmes. The only complete outsider named as a possible candidate is the
multi-award-winning ABC correspondent, Tim Palmer.

If they’re looking for someone who can do the tough stories with the
passion, flair and wit that were the hallmarks of Carleton’s reporting, they
could scratch Stefanovic and Usher from the list straight away. Stefanovic lacks
the gravitas and Usher is a worthy plod with the individuality of a Holden
Commodore.

Burrows is one of the best straight newsmen in the business, but while he
can be a very funny man in private, rarely has he been able to translate that
humour to the screen. Penfold is easily one of the best writers in TV
journalism, is a real smoothy on camera, and can be a very incisive commentator
when he wants to be. But he’s lost a lot of his idiosyncratic flair over the
years, succumbing to the boiler-plate earnestness that’s been fashionable at
Nine since the early ’90s.

Michael Holmes, while extremely competent, also comes across like a
readymade from a broadcast journalism factory, which, in fact, is exactly where
he did come from, being another product of the Packer Pleasure Palace.

Tim Palmer deserves all the accolades he’s received, having displayed
extraordinary tenacity and courage in the field, but he’s a very serious
journo who, in the unlikely event that he’d be interested, would find it hard to
make the huge cultural leap required to become a star reporter on 60 Minutes.



That leaves Hugh Rimington, an outstanding broadcaster, elegant writer
and thoughtful commentator, with a face and voice already well known to a broad
audience. He’d need to lighten up a lot, as he is also afflicted with that
off-the-shelf seriousness so favoured by Nine News. Nevertheless, he’s an
extremely smart bloke, and if he wanted the gig, he’d quickly learn to be an
individual, which says a lot about the lamentable state of commercial TV
journalism with Carleton’s passing – idiosyncrasy no longer comes naturally.

Peter Fray

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