HuffPo Blogger Actually States Obvious, That MSNBC Prime Time Isn't 'News'

Wow, how'd that one slip through?

Writing about Keith Olbermann's "indefinite suspension"/extended weekend away from MSNBC, Huffington Post blogger Chez Pazienza provided a rare moment of illumination at the left-wing site when he wrote this in a post titled "Playing for Keith" --

NBC's dilemma has always been how to draw the line between the outspoken free-for-all on MS and the supposedly dignified proceedings at NBC News proper. Maybe this will be the event that finally forces the NBC suits to fess up and admit what everybody already knows: MSNBC prime time isn't a news block; it's opinion. (emphasis added) And there's nothing really wrong with that.

While not mentioning Olbermann's colleague Rachel Maddow by name, Pazienza's post, published Nov. 7, was an indirect rebuke of what Maddow said about Olbermann's suspension on her show Nov. 6 (as described here by NewsBuster Noel Sheppard) --

Let this incident lay to rest forever the facile, never-true-anyway, bullpuckey, lazy conflation of Fox News and what the rest of us do for a living. I know everybody likes to say, oh that's cable news, it's all the same, Fox and MSNBC, mirror images of each other. Let this lay that to rest forever. Hosts on Fox raise money on the air for Republican candidates. They endorse them explicitly, they use their Fox News profile to headline fundraisers. Heck, there are multiple people being paid by Fox News now to essentially run for office as Republican candidates. If you count not just their hosts but their contributors, you are looking at a significant portion of the whole lineup of Republican presidential contenders for 2012. They can do that because there's no rule against that at Fox. They run as a political operation, we're not. Yes, Keith's a liberal and so am I and there are other people on this network whose political views are shared openly with you, our beloved viewers. But we're not a political operation, Fox is. We are a news operation and the rules around here are part of how you know that.

Lofty sentiments from Maddow -- preceded on her own show with an example of shabby journalism that demolished her pious claims. In a segment titled "Female Republican candidates fall short of the hype," Maddow sought to undercut the "year of the conservative Republican women" as one of the "favored and exciting memes" in coverage of this year's midterms --

MADDOW (0:37 in embedded video): Then the elections actually happened and now you're not hearing quite so much breathless coverage, are you, about that whole conservative women surge thing. Because this upcoming Congress, the one we just elected, the 112th Congress scheduled to meet for the first time on Jan. 3 2011, it will be the very first Congress in 30 years to not have more women in it than the one that came before, the first in 30 years.

Depending on how the Senate race in Alaska turns out and a few still-to-be decided races in the House, there will be either as many or fewer women in Congress next year than there were this year. That has not been the case in a generation. It is true that there were a ton of high-profile Republican women in particular running for Congress and governor this year. They got a lot of media attention and all of them lost -- Meg Whitman in California, Carly Fiorina in California, Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Linda McMahon in Connecticut. Yes, Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire and Nikki Haley in South Carolina won in their respective races, but that's sort of it. What in the name of Elizabeth Cady Stanton happened here? How did this, the year of the woman after all, how did this end up being one of the worst elections in a generation for women running for office?

Wrong, Ms. Maddow -- "all of them" did not lose. Your listing conspicuously omitted a Republican woman running for office who received as much attention as any other this year, especially on your own show -- Arizona governor Jan Brewer. The former Arizona secretary of state was sworn in as governor in January 2009 (as stipulated by Arizona's succession law) after Janet Napolitano joined Obama's cabinet. Brewer, a subject of obsessive media interest that inexplicably vanished as the election approached, easily beat her Democratic opponent by 13 points.

Also ignored by Maddow in the same segment were the significant gains made by Republican women running for House this year, especially when compared with their Democrat counterparts. As described by David Freddoso at Washington Examiner, female House Democrats suffered a net loss of eight seats in the midterms -- while Republican women won a net gain of seven seats. "In the Senate, Democrats lost one woman (Blanche Lincoln) and Republicans gained one (Kelly Ayotte) -- again, assuming that Murkowski wins," Freddoso wrote.

In governor's races, three new Republican female governors were elected, Freddoso pointed out, for a net gain of one (since two others are retiring)  while no new Democratic female governors were elected and Michigan's Jennifer Granholm is retiring, resulting in a net loss of one for Democrats.

"Perhaps the question Maddow and (her guest for the segment, Slate.com's Amanda) Marcotte should have discussed is why Democrats didn't field more serious Senate and gubernatorial candidates," Freddoso wrote. "Or the fact that women actually voted for Republicans on Tuesday, 49-48 percent, according to the exit polling. That would have required actually looking things up, but it would have also made for much better television."

True, but it would also risk substituting news for opinion, a dicey proposition at MSNBC.

For a devastating critique of Maddow's pontificating about MSNBC as news exemplar, check out this hilarious video compilation over at Johnny Dollar's Place.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts