Saturday, October 17, 2015

Meet The Putz Daily

Tony Randall starred in an NBC sitcom in the early eighties called "Love Sidney," a sweet show about a gay man who lived with a single mom and her daughter and a show obviously ahead of its time.  (It was based on the TV movie Sidney Schorr, which also starred Randall.) NBC canceled "Love, Sidney" in 1983 due to low ratings, and as Randall later recalled - ironically, on NBC's "The Tonight Show," when it was still hosted by Johnny Carson - the network told him that it was going for trashier shows to pull in more viewers; NBC happened to be in one its many interminable last-place-ratings stupors at the time.  When NBC's new shows for the 1983-84 television season ended up getting worse ratings than "Love, Sidney" got, Randall vowed he'd never do a sitcom again.  And he didn't.    
I wonder if Ed Schultz has the same indignation in light of the ratings of the program that replaced his show on NBC Universal subsidiary MSNBC.  
Noted corporate stooge Chuck Todd, you will recall, was given his own show on MSNBC, as if NBC Universal concluded that one insufferable hour of Todd on Sundays hosting "Meet The Press" wasn't enough.  The show, titled "Meet The Press Daily," or "MTP Daily," is essentially a weekday version of the regular "Meet The Press," which means that Todd gets to blow off progressive guests like Martin O'Malley or Lawrence Lessig and act way too comfortably when interviewing arrogant Republicans like John Kasich.  (Todd interviewed Kasich while the two sat on a sofa.)  Well, the early ratings are in, and it turns out that Todd is getting worse ratings than Schultz did in the same time slot - 5 PM Eastern.      
MSNBC has been in last place of late among the cable news channels, and in an attempt to improve its numbers, the channel threw liberals under the bus by canceling many of the weekday shows of liberal political commentators like Schultz and replaced them mostly with straight, bland news reports.  "MTP Daily," of course, is different.  It's a weekday commentary and analysis program, and, as on the Sunday edition of "Meet The Press," you get no commentary on  "MTP Daily" on issues that liberals care about, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal or the Keystone XL pipeline. All you can expect is a focus on the political process, strategy, corporate agendas, and other stuff having nothing to do with kitchen-table issues.  MSNBC has thrown this crap at us and we are throwing it back in disgust.  We progressives are not going to watch MSNBC after its bosses dismissed our interests and concerns by getting rid of shows we tuned into loyally and giving us this pablum programming in their places.  
MSNBC has rarely been a major player in its nineteen-year history, and the channel clearly didn't do itself any favors by retreating from its liberal slant to compete with centrist CNN and right-wing Fox News. And Ed Schultz - now broadcasting his show online as a podcast - could care less what happens to MSNBC.  After seeing what's happening to the show that replaced his, he's probably decided to swear off working for Big Media for good.  He's now free to talk about what he wants, he's slowly building his online audience to the size of his viewership on his old MSNBC show, and he's going to keep fighting for the middle class; he isn't going back to corporate media anymore.  He doesn't have to.  And he can take pleasure from watching Chuck Todd founder and make a fool of himself in the time slot he, Schultz, used to broadcast in.
Tony Randall - and his character Sidney Schorr - would have loved that.            

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