PBS Star Ken Burns Appears on MSNBC to Praise 'Amazing' Teddy

PBS demonstrated it clearly isn’t afraid to fly the flag of liberalism when it allowed one of its multi-millionaire stars, filmmaker Ken Burns, to not only make a syrupy socialist tribute to Ted Kennedy, but then to appear late Monday night on MSNBC to add his own personal tribute to the star of his film: "He was talking not just about the audacity but the possibility of hope. And that’s a wonderful, wonderful message to be carrying on. He's so committed to health care. He’s so committed to national service. He's committed to an honorable end to this horrific war." He mentioned Teddy’s "martyred brothers," and added: "we endow them with the immortality that they so clearly deserve. And yet here is the youngest brother, the little engine that could that keeps going every single day, adding something to our agenda, adding something to this country."

About ten minutes before midnight, the tributes to this "amazing, amazing man" began. MRC's Colleen Raezler took it down:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Ken Burns, is the documentary filmmaker who directed the tribute to Ted Kennedy, the video tonight which was expected to be the whole show I guess, Ken. And I imagine you’ve never been more pleased to be upstaged than you were tonight by the senator's remarkable appearance.

KEN BURNS: It was just stunning for all of us who have had the privilege of just sort of getting close to the process of having the opportunity to spend some time with him and Vicky and some of the people who he’s influenced in his life and then to have him come out at the end was -- just the proof in the pudding. This is a strong, old goat. And he’s got work he wants to do, an agenda he wants to accomplish and it was wonderful to get caught up in his perpetual motion machine for just a couple of days.

OLBERMANN: And to be caught up in that, obviously, you have an insight or an access that the rest of us would not have had. Give us your read on -- on who we saw tonight. Is this it? The man who is only occasionally not 100-percent recognizable as the man we knew before his illness was diagnosed. Is he this vital all the time?

BURNS: You know, he stunned us when were in Hyannisport with that energy, that vitality, that commitment. He was talking not just about the audacity but the possibility of hope. And that’s a wonderful, wonderful message to be carrying on. He's so committed to health care. He’s so committed to national service. He's committed to an honorable end to this horrific war. He's interested in working with President Obama. I’ve never seen anything like this. The fortitude and the inner strength. I think those who worked on it, my partner, Mark Herzog, we were stunned by the man we met and you saw him again tonight. Summoning up all the energy to come and unite these Democrats as no one else could have brought them together.

MATTHEWS: Ken, what couldn't you put on the picture? I always like to ask people what’s the guy like? What can't you see on television? What couldn't you see on the–What couldn’t you put in the -- in the doc?

BURNS: You know, it was just more of what you saw, Chris. It was so wonderful. You know a guy with his legislative accomplishments, shouldn't be this close to his family. His family adores him. They're calling him Teddy all the time. Teddy, do this. Teddy, do that. He really put his arm around his family. And was still had enough energy to help us, to life us up. It was just more of the same story. We were flabbergasted sitting in that iconic place where we've seen all the footage of the brothers and there he was still working, wanting to talk about the Red Sox, wanting to talk about what's going on in the election, wanting to handicap all the inside game. We were thrilled to be part of that. And the film really reflects who this guy is.

MATTHEWS: You know, it's amazing, we never saw a Kennedy boy grow old. You know, that’s what struck me about your collage of pictures.

BURNS: That's exactly right, Chris. I think there's so much poignancy. And what you begin to realize though is what he has accomplished during the course of his lifetime, in many ways dwarves the actual legacy of his two martyred brothers, three martyred brothers. At the same time, they're fixed. And so we endow them with the immortality that they so clearly deserve. And yet here is the youngest brother, the little engine that could that keeps going every single day, adding something to our agenda, adding something to this country. This isn't just a Democrat or Republican thing, this is for all of us. He's an amazing, amazing man to get to know.

OLBERMANN: Ken Burns, the auteur of that great series, The War, prior to that the Civil War. The Brooklyn bridge, so many more and tonight, stirring documentary at the convention about Ted Kennedy. I guess you’ve got a baseball one coming up again, is that right?

BURNS: We do. PBS loaned us out for a just few weeks to do this one. But we're back to work on a history of the national parks that will be out next year, then an update on our baseball series which we're calling The Tenth Inning. And it features the opinions and commentary of a guy on MSNBC who comes on at 8:00 every night on Countdown. You might know him.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis