Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Please Help Me Understand MSNBC

I am not being a wiseguy, I really don't understand how the place works. My news experience is limited to one year at Northwestern's Medill School... so in other words I have no news experience. But as much as I love MSNBC, I still feel like there's a link missing in the chain.


All of MSNBC news and NBC news has reported that word of the AIG bonuses reached the President on Sunday. Which is true.

Yesterday on Morning Mika, Mika Brzezkinski whined and whatEVer'd all morning about how the President knew "all along" about the bonuses and was "play-acting" on Monday. She continued the refrain on Hardball: "We knew all along!" "We're all to blame!" To which I, at home, replied, "Who's this 'we'?!" and turned off the TV.

Every other program on MSNBC had reported and continued to report that the President learned of the bonuses on Sunday. I'm thinking, gee, if I ran MSNBC I'd pass a note down to Mika to tell her she was saying something untrue, and saying it over and over. But no one did. And the other MSNBC shows continued to report the non-Mika version, the truth.

This morning, Chuck Todd reported on Today that the President learned of the bonuses on Sunday. But on Morning Joe, the gang was still saying this "He knew all along" stuff. Did it all morning.

So I'm thinking, gee, if I ran MSNBC, I'd pass a note down to them to please stop that.

But something quite different happened: Chuck Todd came on Morning Joe, and apparently everyone had been told to stop talking about that one subject. They carefully and obviously avoided the one thing the show had been hacking away at all morning, apparently to avoid compelling Chuck Todd to correct them. It was as if Chuck Todd told them ahead of time, "Hey, by the way, I won't lie if asked" so they just didn't ask.

And today, Chris Matthews is back beating the drum, saying the press "let Obama off easy" because they didn't ask him about when he learned of the bonuses. Huh??

NBC news should have only one truth, shoudn't they? I'm not asking for unity of message -- that's Fox News stuff -- but the facts should remain consistent throughout the day, should they not?

And while I'm at it, one more question for MSNBC: You've got this huge, beautiful studio. Why do you pretend it's a bunch of individual, tiny studios? Aren't Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow sitting in the same room, possibly facing one another? So why not show their relationship to each other? Why not pass from one show to another by panning from one to the next? (You record a new out for Hardball's second airing, so you could do the same when needed here.)

And why do guests sit at the same table, but exist in separate cameras? And why on Earth was Mika hosting Hardball from in front of a green screen window? And why does Chris Matthews host Hardball from in front of the tiniest, ugliest backdrop of the least flattering color ever? Just wondering...

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