Published Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009 | 11:33 p.m.
Updated Friday, Oct. 9, 2009 | 11:24 a.m.
Maybe the Blue States should sit this one out.
Rush Limbaugh will be a judge for the 2010 Miss America Pageant set for Jan. 30 at the Planet Hollywood Theatre for the Performing Arts. The Miss America Organization was expected to make an announcement to that effect this morning, though Fox News Network host Greta Van Susteren has reported on her blog that the organization has already sent a release quoting Miss America President and Chief Executive Art McMaster saying: “We are thrilled to have Rush join us for our pageant this year. He will bring a thrilling new dimension to the competition, and we know that the 2010 Miss America Pageant will be filled with new twists and exciting opportunities with him as one of our national judges.”
Thrilling. New. Dimension.
Maybe Planet Hollywood can offer a suite-and-pageant-ticket Protest Package for those who find the selection of the polarizing if popular syndicated radio host an affront. There is certain to be a backlash from those who seek to keep politics out of the Miss America pageantry, which has always forged a right-leaning tenor but has never been so overtly Republican as to invite one of the party’s largest mouthpieces to serve as a judge.
But the naming of Limbaugh as the pageant’s first of seven judges for next year’s event can only help draw attention to the flagging Miss America brand. Launched in Atlantic City in 1921, the pageant has struggled to maintain relevance over the past several years. It fell off network television in 2006, moving from ABC to CMT and, currently, TLC. That year, the pageant moved to Las Vegas, to the Theatre for the Performing Arts, in an effort to add some pizazz to an institution many TV viewers felt was growing stale. The MAO has produced the reality show "Countdown to the Crown"; allowed contestants to choose their own style of swimsuits (including more sexy-fied bikinis); dusted off the Miss Congeniality Award; and installed a toothy, telegenic young celeb, Mario Lopez, as its host.
The pageant’s judging lineup has not always been apolitical. MSNBC’s “Hardball” host, the left-leaning Chris Matthews, was a member of the judging panel in 2007. But expect the addition of Limbaugh, a man who has not backed off statements that he wants President Obama to fail, to really test the poise of this year’s Miss America.
Update: Sent this morning is the official notice the Miss American Organization began issuing Thursday. It reads, in part, "Limbaugh will be one of a panel of seven distinguished judges that will help decide which of the 53 contestants will capture the Miss America 2010 title and serve as the Goodwill Ambassador for the Children's Miracle Network, as well as introduce the first Go Green platform for MAO." Yes, Limbaugh is going to serve as a spokesman for a "green" campaign.
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.