Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lean Backward

It's official: MSNBC not only canceled Ed Schultz's show, but it also canceled "The Cycle" and Alex Wagner's "Now," both of which, in that order, preceded "The Ed Show." Although Alex Wagner is staying with MSNBC to play a major part in the channel's political coverage going into the 2016 election and "The Cycle"'s Ari Melber will remain as the channel's chief legal correspondent, "The Cycle"'s Krystal Ball (who must have seen her show's cancellation by looking into her name), Abby Huntsman and Toure will be leaving MSNBC in addition to Schultz.  And MSNBC head honcho Phil Griffin has much more in store. He didn't mention Brian Williams' role in the "new" MSNBC, nor did he indicate that Keith Olbermann may be coming back, but he did say this:
"In the coming weeks, as we complete our plans to create a new look and flow for our dayside programming, our 3 PM to 6 PM [Eastern] hours will begin the pivot towards live, breaking news coverage – with interim hosts from among our very talented ranks. And then, in September, we’ll unveil a 9 AM to 5 PM [Eastern] schedule driven by dynamic coverage of breaking news events that are shaping the day."
Workin' the 9 to 5 schedule . . . what a way to make a living.
What Griffin really means is that every time there's a terrorist attack or something like that, MSNBC will sensationalize the story and get everyone afraid of their own shadows.  Anything to try to outfox Fox News, the leaders in sensationalism.
But the worst of it will be the return of NBC News' biggest clown to the circus that MSNBC has become.
Chuck Todd, the corporate hatchet man who destroyed the remaining credibility of "Meet The Press," is getting his own show at 5 PM Eastern.  Griffin says he "will bring his unmatched brand of political insight and analysis back to MSNBC with a daily one-hour program."
His brand of political insight and analysis is unmatched because no one else in the NBC news organization (not even Joe Scarborough!) can match his nauseating, pro-Republican, rightward "analysis" that treats GOP lawmakers and presidential candidates with kid gloves and belittles Democrats for even trying to put up a fight in the elections. (He said that Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergran Grimes was "disqualified" for the office because she refused to say whether she voted for Obama in 2012, and he pooh-poohs serious Democratic attempts at challenges to the GOP agenda.) His tongue must be awfully dirty from all the boots he's licked from interviewing Republicans. And you know where he's pressed his lips. Disgusting!
What's really disgusting is Schultz's dismissal. He talked about blue-collar issues none of the other MSNBC hosts seemed to want to bother with.  He spoke out loudly and forcefully against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal because it would cost American jobs, and now there's a rumor that he was fired because the top brass at MSNBC's parent company (rhymes with "bombast") had issues with him opposing it, or even bringing it up. Ed didn't even finish out the last week of his show; Michael Eric Dyson substituted for him.  Ed chose to take last Thursday and Friday - July 30 and 31 - off before he was even told that the week ending August 1 would in fact be his last week on MSNBC.  (Griffin apparently gave him the impression that the week ending August 8 - this week, the week I have published this blog entry - would be his last.)  The story then got out that he had a temper tantrum and refused to finish out the week, which was not true.
Anyway, Ed doesn't want this cancellation to be about him. In a farewell video to MSNBC viewers (who will also, I'm sure, be saying farewell to MSNBC), Schultz, class act that he is, thanked MSNBC and his staff for six years and change on the air, and he's promised his fans that he isn't going anywhere; he still has his podcast and his Web site to speak out through.   (You can watch his video below.)

That, however, doesn't mitigate the fact that there is no longer anyone on MSNBC who can call Hillary Clinton on her squishy centrism or attack Scott Walker for his strident fascism.  We'll be stuck with commentators who are just interested in the political process rather than the issues, the electoral horse race rather than the candidates' positions, the corporate interests rather than the people's interests.
In other words, Chuck Todd is perfect for the "new" MSNBC.
Griffin, however, is, as he puts it, leaning forward.  In his final kiss-off regarding his plans for MSNBC's immediate future, he said, "Change can be hard. There’s no doubt it’s been a difficult time, but we have exciting opportunities ahead."
He can face those "exciting opportunities" without me.  I'm not watching MSNBC ever again.
You tell 'em, Johnny.

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