Time TV Writer (and Obama Voter) Scorns MSNBC for 'Blatantly Triumphalist' and 'Bludgeoningly Hortatory' Ads and Anchors

Time TV writer and blogger James Poniewozik raised eyebrows when he reported that although he voted for Barack Obama, MSNBC's gleeful Obama coverage makes him sympathetic to Americans whose legs are not so thrilled. He disdained their "blatantly triumphalist" promos as worse than Fox News, and suggested MSNBC is wildly inconsistent for first suggesting that Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann aren’t objective enough to anchor major political events like the conventions, but then decide they’re just fine for anchoring their hero Obama's inauguration:

...MSNBC has decided it's OK to relax and let its pro-Bama freak flag fly. As if to confirm every "real vs. fake America" stereotype Sarah Palin and company perpetrated during the campaign, MSNBC's inauguration coverage will even run in Starbucks in New York, San Francisco and Seattle. (Seriously: did David Brooks think up that promotion?) On one of its incessantly running Inauguration Day promos, a narrator gushes, "When a new President inspires the nation, one day Americans will ask: where were you when Barack Obama became President?"

Besides the confusing timeline of that sentence, there's something almost bludgeoningly hortatory about it. Mind you, I voted for Barack Obama enthusiastically, in the primaries and the general election--and yet hearing stuff like this (Obama = The Moon Landing) I can empathize with the people who didn't.

Refresh my memory if I'm forgetting something, but when President Bush was inaugurated in 2001, I don't remember promos this blatantly triumphalist even on Fox News. It passive-aggressively defies you to disagree with it, as it asserts that this guy who hasn't even been sworn in yet will undeniably be an inspirational, nay, an historic figure. Even if you didn't vote for him, you have to admit that Jan. 20 will be a truly amazing day. Right? You have to admit it, right? Well, admit it!

As I've written tiresomely before, I have no problem with opinionated journalists covering politics – everyone has opinions, and better that they not hide them. But if your news organization has decided that certain hosts are too opinionated to effectively anchor election coverage, there's something smug about declaring that the inauguration of a winning candidate is such a universal cause for celebration that no one could object to having them cover it. If you have one rule for the conventions, keep that rule for the inauguration.

Poniewozik is clearly not trying to be the next Tom Shales. Now if he would only feel our pain and mock Time editor Rick Stengel's gushy "Obama's hyper-competent, super-competent" interviews on PBS.

(The image is Time's, the hat tip to the consistently sharp and funny Greg Pollowitz at NRO.)

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