Daytime TV’s newest rising star is an avowed Republican who worked for Sarah Palin, John McCain and George W. Bush -- and liberals are smitten!

Nicolle Wallace, formerly communications chief for the Bush White House, made her debut on ABC’s retooled version of daytime talker “The View” this month, and while much of the (anonymously sourced) chatter has centered around her fellow newcomers Rosie O’Donnell and Rosie Perez supposedly “acting like divas” backstage, the show’s decidedly blue-leaning viewers are responding positively to Wallace’s thoughtful and informed analysis on a range of topics.





Wallace was chosen to replace the often-capricious Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the show’s former conservative commentator. But the analytical and even-keeled Wallace is turning out to be the anti-Hasselbeck. And while some reviewers have criticized Wallace for just that reason, she may in fact be just what “The View” needs. The ABC daytime staple has been in a state of existential crisis ever since its creator, the pioneering Barbara Walters, announced her retirement last year. That announcement was followed by a mass restructuring that included the ouster of Sherri Shepherd and newcomer Jenny McCarthy. When the smoke cleared, longtime moderator Whoopi Goldberg was the only remaining member of the panel.

Questions about the show’s future viability loomed as producers scrambled to come up with big-name commentators to fill “The View” chairs and attract viewers to the ratings-challenged show. They found one in Rosie O’Donnell, a former co-host known for her on-air (and off-air) spats.

But while O’Donnell’s indomitable presence certainly generated a buzz, it did not fill the hole left behind by Walters, who approached every topic with a journalist’s eye and often defused the knee-jerk opinions of her cohosts with her ability to see nuance. For all the talk of big personalities and attitudes, “The View” needs a center if it is to thrive in the post-Barbara era. It’s too early to tell, but Wallace could be that center.

Wallace, it’s worth noting, has also been criticized by Newsbusters and other conservative outlets who seem to believe the Republican party has no room for centrist voices, but that narrative is only likely to help Wallace win favor with core “View” viewers. Ratings were up 13 percent for the show’s debut week, so she must be doing something right -- or wrong, depending on your political inclinations.

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