Tough To Defend

Wow, the world got stupider this week.

MSNBC tried a bold experiment this year by putting two politically incendiary hosts, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, in the anchor chair to lead the cable news channel’s coverage of the election.

That experiment appears to be over.

After months of accusations of political bias and simmering animosity between MSNBC and its parent network NBC, the channel decided over the weekend that the NBC News correspondent and MSNBC host David Gregory would anchor news coverage of the coming debates and election night. Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews will remain as analysts during the coverage.

The change — which comes in the home stretch of the long election cycle — is a direct result of tensions associated with the channel’s perceived shift to the political left.

Or it could have been a direct result of tensions due to the fact that Tweety’s a moron and KO’s a hothead and occasionally the vigorous and joyful ignorance of the one overcomes the patience of the other; I’m not saying Keith’s blameless here, but I can’t be the only one who watched all through the primaries just hoping that at some point KO would snap and eat Tweety’s head.

“In a rapidly changing media environment, this is the great philosophical debate,” Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, said in a telephone interview Saturday. Fighting the ratings game, he added, “the bottom line is that we’re experiencing incredible success.”

To my mind, the “great philosopical debate” is not whether in a “changing media environment” (twitspeak for “we have no clue whatsoever so here, have some words”) you should be openly partisan, it’s whether you can continue to treat politics like a) football or b) a big ironic joke. Coverage should be impartial; that doesn’t mean it should be dispassionate.

If there was an attraction to me in watching Keith, it was that he seemed to get that this shit mattered to people, and mattered enough for him to actually get upset about it. It’s the same attraction I have to a lot of writing on the Internets: People give a damn and get righteous about it. This is a bloody fucking world; the coverage of it can’t be bloodless.

But as the past two weeks have shown, that success has a downside. When the vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin lamented media bias during her speech, attendees of the Republican convention loudly chanted “NBC.”

Yes. A terrible downside. Some chewy fucking people in stupid hats yelled your name at the modern political equivalent of the rally the villagers have in the town before they go storm Dracula’s castle. They yelled out NBC! Oh, my God, let us cower in fear! What a terrible price we have paid with our … eardrums … er … Hey, at least they know your name, right? Do you know who I’d kill and eat to have that Army of Doofus shouting MY name? You can’t buy that kind of love.

This is all leaving aside the whole bullying argument, of course. Does no one who works for any major network have a third grader who could school them in how a bully doesn’t bully you to change your behavior, how it’s not an altruistic act? Watching the newsies scramble around this week has just been pathetic. Go on, try to please hardcore Republicans. It won’t work. THEY HATE YOU no matter what you do. THEY HATE YOU no matter what you say.

THEY HATE YOU because it is convenient, because it helps them maintain a worldview at odds with reality, because it sounds good to scream at top volume during a video of the Twin Towers crashing down, because that’s who they are. You’re incidental, you’re somewhere on the list with the black commies who do community organizing, the Clenis, and Jeremiah Wright. You’re barely there, to the bully, except as a target. Sooner you all get that through your heads, easier it becomes to do your jobs.

Which is really what this is all about. While I’m pleased to see some news bosses developing some backbone, it should be noted that Republicans have waged open war on the press since Watergate, most vociferously since Reagan, and in all that time, while limp-dicked wannabes on talk radio called for New York Times editors to hang and syndicated columnists made cracks about ropes and trees and reporters, and bestselling authors fantasized about blowing you up, you all were giving them magazine covers and puff pieces and calling them “provocative” and “controversial” instead of “epically disgusting” and “morally stunted” and “insane.” You were laughing them off and pretending to be above it all, so while I’m happy to see some swinging back, it might have been avoided had you just noticed that for the past 30 years you gave them everything they said they wanted, and they put it on a stick and they shoved it up your ass.

And you’re still doing it:

Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams, the past and present anchors of “NBC Nightly News,” have told friends and colleagues that they are finding it tougher and tougher to defend the cable arm of the news division, even while they anchored daytime hours of convention coverage on MSNBC and contributed commentary each evening.

Mr. Williams did not respond to a request for comment and Mr. Brokaw declined to comment.


Tough to defend? You’re kidding me, right? It might be tough to defend the stupidity. It might be tough to defend the sexism. It might be tough to defend the screaming, or whatever Tweety’s hair was doing, or that Norah O’Donnell was like 99 months pregnant during the primaries and they made her stand the whole night in heels. It might be tough to defend the lazy, shallow, senseless yammer that goes on every night but tough to defend the stunning leftward shift that included having one and a half talk shows be somewhat progressive? That’s tough to defend? I know Brian Wiliams is like an epic pussy and that Brokaw’s mostly checked out, but come on, you can’t tell me you can’t come up with a statement that reads something like this:

To Whom It May Concern:

It has come to our attention that certain inbred mouthbreathing cretins at present walking around with scarlet Rs on their chests are upset with us airing views that conflict with what they want to think. While we understand and appreciate feedback from all our viewers, even Bill the furry dude who comes around each week to confess to the Kennedy assasination, we would also politely remind those sensitive little conservative snowflakes that the sky is blue even if Rachel Maddow says it is, and by the way, enjoy the view of our lightly freckled asses as we moon you out the windows of our limousine. Jesus God. We have a world that isactively blowing up, we do not have time for your nonsense. If we give you a quarter will you all just go play in traffic?

Thanks for watching!

Course, to stick up for one’s professional colleagues requires the kind of pride that, had anyone in a position as high as a nightly news anchor displayed it at any time in the past eight years, might have prevented the necessity of it being issued today.


9 thoughts on “Tough To Defend

  1. I ponder:
    In today’s environment – would Murrow, Cronkite, Brinkley et al have been fired or would they have simply quit? My gut says they would have fought and fought and fought and fought and then – realizing the futility of it all – gone out in a drunken, f-bomb filled blaze of glory.
    “I’m Chet Huntley.”
    “And Dave Brinky – and I’z like to shtartonih’s brocash with fo – no, five leshers… FYYFF!!!!”
    *urp* “Whaaaa?” [THUNK] (chirp chirp chirp) >Color Bars / Tone<
    CHET: "And we're back. Our apologies…"

  2. This blog has tons of crazy documents on Palin… WE NEED YOUR WRITIN SKILLS!!!!
    Like 50 thousand dollars spent on CARPET during renovations on the governor’s mansion
    also Jesus General gave a helmet tip to her today for a document FROM palin that outlines this policy
    “Faced with the prospect of so many Alaska Guardsmen and soldiers returning home after suffering traumatic brain injuries (TBI), Gov. Sarah Palin reached deep into Alaska’s coffers to allocate one hundred dollars to teach health care professionals how to recognize TBI cases.”
    There is a post now with an mp3 of a call with her or some sort of recording with here where she talks about her “disappointment” in reclassifying polar bears as endangered. There is also a letter talking about her opposition to classifying beluga whales as endangered!
    It’s a goldmine over here!

  3. The only issue with Murrow, Brinkley, etc. – they kept themselves separate, to a certain extent.
    What transpired during the DNC, I believe, was a culmination of 30 years of reporters finally having enough. Those who were tired of having to stand on the sidelines.
    Olbermann was a commentator. So is Matthews. There is no doubt regarding that. In a time of what Jon Stewart called “yelling television”, we know that there was no objectivity in what they brought to the table.
    And maybe its time for the media to grow up a bit and embrace it. They can’t be apart from the world. They must embrace it. An objective journalist can’t properly call bullshit on a candidate.
    But to criticize Olbermann, he stuck to a particular party. He came in during a period of such unbelievable horseshit that he’s begun to forget that there is bullshit on the other side of the fence. This isn’t so much as a wrestling style ho-down. This isn’t good guys vs. bad guys.
    This is at its core one major ideology in America vs. another. This isn’t candidate vs. candidate. This is one side of our country vs. the other. There is no clear dividing lines. There is no north and south. If there is a war, it won’t be fought between a clearly divided border.
    Which is why I wish they would cut the democratic out of their reports. Cut the republican. Cut the libertarian.
    Focus on the people. Focus on reporting what THEY want, what THEY think should happen.
    I don’t know. I support Obama simply for one chunk in his acceptance speech. About finding compromise. About gay marriage, abortion, etc where we don’t have to agree, but we can find common ground. McCains was about “us vs. them”…but we forget..its not us vs. republicans. or democrats vs. them. It’s us vs. our next door neighbor. Against the state next to us.
    A system where we defeat one another one year, or destroy the other the next? It won’t work. It’s a stalemate that never ends. It makes for great ratings.
    It sucks for running a country.
    Olbermann, he can be a democrat till the day he dies. But when it comes to the brass tacks, he’s a channel of a voice of America I don’t think he’s hearing. When it comes to the conservatives…the O’reillys and the Scarboroughs, etc…they’re doing the same disservice.
    They have a voice most of us don’t. I wish they’d use it better.

  4. Are you guys missing something? Olbmermann not only only is a liberal on some very hot topics but he called the RNC out on the extremely cynical and divisive use of the 9/11 footage. That was the straw that broke the camels back with the RNC. They simply couldn’t risk anyone with a microphone watching them and calling them on their shit. For the same reason Sarah Palin refuses to be interviewed. She’s not afraid of hard questions, she’s afraid of having *no answers*–ergo, charlie gibson will chat with her about what a great mom she is and imply that living next to russia as an apocalyptic nutcase is great training for negotiating with putin.

  5. THEY HATE YOU no matter what you do.
    Uh, hello Obama? This is why postpartisanship is bullshit. Trusting the Repub establishment is moronic.

  6. Damn, I wish I were George Soros so I could buy fucking NBC and have Olbermann read that To Whom It May Concern on the air.
    That would be teh awesome!!!1!
    And srsly, Palin’s getting interviewed by Charlie fucking Gibson?! WTF? What, they couldn’t get Debbie Gibson, so they went with the next best Gibson?

  7. The Repubs were chanting NBC? Whew, at least they haven’t caught on yet that Comedy Central’s the place to go for consistent honest political coverage. And Pompeo, your last sentence? Perfect.

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