IN TWEET: LIKE EVERY BUSHEL, EVEN MY FAVORITE NEWS NETWORK HAS SOME BAD APPLES. HERE’S THREE THAT SPARK THE “CHANGE CHANNEL” REFLEX.
I’ve been a loyal MSNBC viewer since the days when Keith Olbermann was on the schedule and Rachel Maddow was his fill-in. The network has come a long way since its awkward launch in 1996 as a Microsoft/NBC News hybrid. The “MS” hasn’t stood for Microsoft since the company pulled out of the TV portion of the venture in 2005 and what started as a laughing stock has steadily grown to become the number two cable news network.
Over the past few years, MSNBC has staked out a center/left position as a strategic counter to Fox News. In the process, the walls between the cable network and broadcast baby daddy NBC News have largely been torn down. This has given MSNBC access to a stable of seasoned NBC News vets but it has also created some awkward clashes between the cultures of partisan commentary and old school impartiality.
When you release the Kraken, a few nogoodniks are bound to exploit the beast for selfish reasons. It’s made some of the talking heads at MSNBC think they’re paragons of new journalism and, at the same time, caused a few NBC News staffers to occupy a soap box no one asked them to stand on. While most of the on-air personalities at MSNBC are doing a fine job in their respective roles, here are three worms that should be plucked from the apple.
Chris Matthews is starting to feel like Olbermann reincarnated (with a light dusting of Bill O’Reilly that tempers his lefty political tendencies). I used to be a fan of Matthews, even looking past that ball of spit in the corner of his mouth and his tendency to chew more of his words than he speaks. However, since the last election, he’s mutated into an erratic curmudgeon with an annoying habit of cutting off any guest whenever he feels the need to blurt out whatever pops into his head.
Matthews has also become one of those commentators who really believes he’s god’s gift. When your mind begins to think like a press release you wrote for yourself, all pretense of humility goes out the window. If Matthews isn’t lavishing ridiculous praise on guests (mostly just for showing up) he’s making grandiose proclamations and predictions that run the gamut from odd to downright loony.
THE ED SHOW coming back to weeknights and knocking Matthews down to a single hour at 7PM was a welcome change. Of anyone currently filling an evening slot on MSNBC, Chris Matthews is the one weak link in the chain. I’m definitely not playing HARDBALL anymore.
Remember the old saying “who died and made you boss?” Well, Chuck Todd has fast become the living, breathing embodiment of that very question. He’s loud, loutish and arrogant; a massive ass hat you can’t help but want to smack square across his doughy face. Of course, Todd is so in love with himself, he’d probably mistake the gesture for a sign of passionate adoration.
Unlike class acts Pete Williams and Richard Engel, Chuckie never met a news item he didn’t have an opinion about. He can’t just report a story because, in Chuckletown, he IS the story. Todd has gone from journalist to commentator to center of the known universe, often in the span of a single appearance on MORNING JOE. He pontificates, bloviates and just plain grates, all while managing to never lose the smug smirk of dickishness that is his calling card. When Todd makes a mistake or misspeaks he does what any classic twit would do: more of the same.
If you want to see what large swaths of the hoi polloi think of Lord Chuckalot, just do a Twitter search of his name. He has the distinction of doing something no elected official can these days: uniting people left, right and center. Too bad that unity is based on showering Todd with comments that make mine here look kind by comparison.
Luke Russert is the Jaden Smith of the news world. He’s proof that a famous papa is often all you need to score a plum gig you have absolutely zero talent for. If I ran Google and you Googled “nepotism bad,” Luke Russert would occupy at least the first half dozen pages of search results. Plain and simple, he’s an affront to journalism (and kind of a jerk, to boot).
Let’s see..what bugs me most about Li’l Lukie? I’m not sure if it’s the blank stare of his squinty rat eyes, the ever-present look of constipation on his face or the nagging feeling that every time I see him on camera it still seems like I’m watching his audition tape. Russert has a talent for stating the obvious (but acting as though he's showering us with pearls of wisdom) and I suspect that every time he mentions one of his “sources” what he’s really talking about is the search engine on his office computer.
Truth be told, I never bought into the myth that Tim Russert, Luke’s daddy, was all that. He seemed like a pleasant enough guy who was, at best, a competent journalist. There is no doubt in my mind that Li’l Lukie would not be stinking up TV news if his famous father hadn’t died suddenly. I have no problem with someone using an “in” to get a leg up on the competition but, when you have no business being a journalist and your head is so inflated that you’re incapable of seeing how badly your shit does indeed stink, that’s where I draw the line.