By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Nov 03, 2010 at 11:00 AM
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Christine O'Donnell never seemed to have a chance to win Joe Biden's old U.S. Senate seat in Delaware. The polls never showed her coming close, and financial questions were an issue back in her home state.

But she's the biggest winner in the mid-term elections, very quickly becoming an instantly recognizable -- and marketable -- TV personality.

Other than Barack Obama, O'Donnell was the most-covered personality of the mid-term election, according to an analysis of print and broadcast election stories from Jan. 1 through Oct. 31. The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism released the numbers this week.

It's not a surprise for the telegenic O'Donnell, who won an upset primary victory and then had her national image jump-started by Bill Maher, who dug up archival video of her appearances on his old "Politically Correct" panel show.

Among the trivia that caught media attention was her claim to have "dabbled" in witchcraft, which she somehow turned into a theme of her campaign, with one of the strangest political ads in memory, opening with the memorable line, "I'm not a witch."

Here's that spot, for one last time:


The last election created Sarah Palin as a hybrid of politician and TV personality, and it's like O'Donnell will have the same fate. She actually has a softer on-camera presence than Palin, and no one will be surprised if she walks into a job at Fox News Channel, joining a series of Republican pols/personalities that includes Palin. She's at ease in front of the cameras, articulate and exudes likability.

Even Maher, who helped put her on the national stage, has said nice things about her, despite their obvious political and philosophical differences.

While O'Donnell may have never had a chance to win an election in Delaware, she's perfect for the large audience niche that regularly watches Fox News.

And how long before TLC comes up with some way to put her in a "reality" show?

From "The Real World" to Congress: Expect some national media attention for Republican Sean Duffy, elected Tuesday to take over the seat held for decades by Democrat Dave Obey. Duffy was in the 1997 cast of MTV's "Real World: Boston."

On TV: The president will offer his election post-mortem in a televised news conference at noon today. There's no word from the broadcast networks yet on whether they'll air it, but the cable news outlets will carry it.

  • In the first real impact of Jon Stewart's Saturday "Rally for Sanity," MSNBC commentator says he's "suspending" his "Worst Person in the World" segment, to avoid contributing to media negativity.
  • Speaking of the rally, Nielsen Media Research reports nearly 2 million tuned in for the live telecast, a big cable number for a Saturday afternoon, especially for a non-sports program. Comedy Central reports well over a half million viewers watched on-line.
  • The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog reports that CBS' "Amazing Race" will finally get a high-definition makeover next year.
  • Milwaukee Public TV has scheduled its "Deer Hunt 2010" for 8 p.m. on Nov. 11 on Channel 10.
  • Jim Windsor, let go earlier this year after eight years as Channel 12's director of creative services, has landed a job as a writer/producer/editor at Chicago's NBC affiliate, WMAQ-TV.

A brief run-through for Conan: The on-line "Show Zero" proved to be a five-minute look from Conan O'Brien at what's coming Monday night at 10 on TBS. Here's the video:


Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.