Building on the relative popularity of their 8pm and 9pm slots--Olbermann & Maddow, respectively--MSNBC has begun the search for a personality to fill the currently unfilled 10pm slot. 10pm is currently devoted to a replay of Olbermann's "Countdown."
Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, is making 10 p.m. a priority now. In an interview on Tuesday in a studio on the Mall, hours after the inauguration of President Obama, Mr. Griffin said that the channel needed a third original show in its lineup.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, in his latest heart-palpitation over the new era of Barack Obama, inadvertently let the cat out of the bag regarding his network’s transparent to court a left-wing audience.
“This is the network that has opened its heart to change -- to change and its possibilities. Let’s be honest about it. These -- these people watch this network out here,” Matthews gushed Tuesday morning.
Matthews’s co-anchor and fellow liberal Democrat Keith Olbermann, jokingly seconded his observation: “He’s Chris Matthews and he approved that message.” Matthews then made an indirect slam at Obama’s detractors: “We’re not crotchety about change -- stuffy” [audio available here].
Matthews’s latest gush came just before the bottom half of the 11 am Eastern hour of MSNBC’s coverage of the inauguration. He first remarked on the apparent giddiness of the mass of people in attendance for the swearing-in of the 44th president: “Well, there’s one thing you can’t see at home. I have never seen so many teeth in my life. Everybody is smiling. I mean, it’s all teeth out -- when you get close.” Olbermann responded with his first joke: “ A combination of smiling and the weather -- there’s chattering going on.” Matthews then continued about how the crowd seemed “radiant” and how they were “lucky enough to be in this business today, looking out the window here and getting the reaction when the crowd catches your eye. It is such a deal.”
On Tuesday’s Countdown on MSNBC, after a segment with the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson at the end of the program in which he and host Keith Olbermann lambasted Sarah Palin over her recent interview with Esquire magazine, the Countdown host made a crude joke at Palin’s expense as he introduced the Rachel Maddow Show. Olbermann: "But, apropos of Palin, I can’t remember who said this, but it came to mind: What’s the difference between a governor of Alaska and a pitbull? You can train a pitbull to occasionally keep its mouth closed. Do you know who said that? Because I can’t remember."
After laughing hysterically, Maddow responded: "No, I can’t. No, that’s new to me. Is that the safe thing to say here?"
Below is a complete transcript of the exchange from the Tuesday, January 13, Countdown on MSNBC:
I like Pat Buchanan. I do. He's wise, funny and charming. But every so often . . .
Like tonight. If Buchanan wants to criticize Israel's conduct of the current war, and its treatment of the Palestinians, so be it. But in doing so, is it really necessary to employ terms associated with the Nazis? Appearing on "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," Buchanan accused Israel of carrying out a "blitzkrieg" against Gaza and turning it into a "concentration camp."
Maybe Rachel Maddow watched one too many clips of Bill Clinton during the '92 campaign claiming George H.W. had "driven the economy into a ditch" and that things were as bad as they'd been since the Depression. In the course of trying to lower expectations for Obama to the max on her show tonight, and tracing the history of the economies previous presidents inherited, Maddow claimed that "Clinton took the oath during an economic downturn."
Uh, no. He took office in the midst of an economy that was growing at a fast pace. Don't take my word for it. "Fast pace" was the way economic growth was characterized at the time by the . . . New York Times.
He stopped short of demanding they be branded with a scarlet 'U.' But the suddenly puritanical David Shuster insists that the proper term for Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston is "unwed parents."
Shuster rendered his verdict on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the MSNBC show he's been hosting since David Gregory parted for Meet The Press. Shuster teased the issue at the top of the program, then devoted a segment to it later on.
Given some of the reactions to an item I wrote yesterday about Barney Frank's objections to Rick Warren giving the invocation at the inauguration, let me state for the record that I lean libertarian on marriage. On the one hand, I don't like courts substituting their judgment for legislatures or the will of the people. But in the long run, I think it might be better for government to recognize that marriage is a religious or spiritual institution, and confine its role to enforcing agreements between partners.
That said, I can't help but chuckle at the way the MSM is twisting itself into knots over the Rick Warren issue. The latest, most entertaining episode occured on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, on MSNBC. David Shuster discovered that, contrary to his presumption, civil rights pioneer Rev. Joseph Lowery, also on the inaugural program, does not support gay marriage!
Lynn Sweet wants the Obama team to come clean over its contacts with Blago. David Shuster has a different concern. He's hoping the media won't get "adversarial" once the Obama folks get around to releasing their report about who said what to whom.
Shuster made his pre-emptive plea for good media manners on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the MSNBC show Shuster has recently begun hosting now that David Gregory has moved on to Meet The Press.
Sweet, of the Chicago Sun-Times, began with a reasonable reporter's take on the pending release by Team Obama of its accounting of contacts between the President-elect's representatives and Blago and his minions: take your time but be complete. In contrast, Shuster's focus was his demand for media decorum and desire to exculpate Rahm Emanuel before even learning the facts.
Though there's not a ruble's worth of difference between their politics, I normally find Rachel Maddow a kinder, gentler, smarter version of Keith Olbermann. Not tonight. Granted, the Countdown host was on hiatus. But even if Olby had been around, he would have been hard-pressed to outdo Maddow for sheer silliness.
The preposterous proposition Rachel propounded? Republicans just don't want Americans to make good wages. That's how Maddow in part explained the decision of Senate Republicans to oppose the Big Three bailout.
Whoever had the brilliant idea of making Capricia Marshall a guest on MSNBC's "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" last night was probably hiding from host David Gregory when the show ended. Marshall turned out to be the least forthcoming guest I have ever seen on a political talk show. The aide to Hillary Clinton put up a smiling stonewall that would make G. Gordon Liddy—who chose a stiff prison sentence over Watergate stool-pigeonhood—proud.
Marshall is the director of Hillary Clinton's political action committee, Hillpac, and former social secretary in the Clinton White House. Gregory had her on in the clear expectation that she would dish on Hillary's prospective appointment as Secretary of State. But Capricia was tighter than the proverbial clam. Try as Gregory might, Marshall wouldn't give up the smallest shadow of a hint of a scrap of a tidbit about anything of interest. Her big revelation? She's excited about the inauguration. Gag Gregory with an NBC "Yes We Can!" commemorative Obama-campaign DVD.
By definition, projection is revealing of what lurks in a person's heart and mind. Arianna Huffington projected tonight, and what she revealed wasn't pretty. So much so, that even her liberal host hastened to diassociate herself from the HuffPo editor. Huffington, grossly misquoting Grover Norquist's famous line about doing away with government, added an infanticidal twist.
Huffington was a guest on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show. The two shed crocodile tears about the diminished state of the Republican party. It was in suggesting that, of all things, she and Maddow should head up a Marshall Plan to save the GOP that Huffington engaged in that ugly bit of projection.
Most recent unintentionally hilarious moment on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC cable show -- her interview with Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie over the upcoming recount in the Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger/reformed court jester Al Franken.
The interview on Wednesday night's show began innocuously enough, with a news caption at the bottom of the screen identifying Ritchie.
Ritchie described the mechanics of the looming recount, which is triggered by state law for margins of victory less than one-half percentage point. The next news caption read, "Sen. Norm Coleman (R) Has 206 Vote Lead Over Challenger Al Franken (D)" (albeit all in capital letters, as with all the captions).
Then came this eye-opener of a caption, presented as fact as with the preceding two when it is an allegation and a kneejerk one at that -- "Before Recount, GOP Trying To Smear Minnesota Secretary of State."
Sayswho ...? All that was needed to make this bird capable of flight were two more words ... "Democrats allege."Adding that, however, might convey an attempt by MSNBC to appear fair and balanced, the last thing its goo-goo viewership wants.
The next presidential election might be four years off, but it's never too early to sow dissension in Republican ranks. So would appear to be David Shuster's creed. Interviewing Bobby Jindal this evening, Shuster was clearly more interested in luring the brilliant Louisiana governor into a fight with Sarah Palin than in exploring the substance.
Jindal was way too savvy and diplomatic to fall for Shuster's transparent ploy, but that didn't stop Shuster—sitting in for David Gregory as host of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—from repeatedly trying.
Message to Scott McClellan: when your guy's gaffe merits a screaming headline at Drudge [see after the jump] about how he's had to apologize for what he said, he's messed up. Big time. But that didn't stop Pres. Bush's former press secretary—turned Soros-paid scrivener—from going on TV and proclaiming that Obama turned in a flawless performance in his debut presser today as president-elect.
McClellan appeared on MSNBC's "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," David Gregory's post-election vehicle taking the place of "Race for the White House." In an odd bit of balance, McClellan, who endorsed Obama, was on with former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart. Mika Brzezinski guest-hosted for Gregory. Lockhart went first, and predictably proclaimed that Obama "made no mistakes" in his press conference today. No prize for candor, but what do you expect? Then it was McClellan's turn, and he went into parrot paradigm [with no offense to the baby red-front macaw I'm bringing home tomorrow].
An Obama victory could boost conservative talk show hosts according to CNBC's "Squawk Box" this election day. The show was more skeptical over the future of left-wing talk. Always with the rhetorical questions, Joe Kernen got things started:
Who is going to win in terms of the cable wars? ... Are we going to become totally nonpartisan now? Do you think that we will be able to bury all of our divisions and there won't be any incendiary cable shows anymore? Who wins if Obama wins? What happens to Olbermann? What's Olbermann going to do, or Maddow?
Co-host Carl Quintanilla suggested "television feeds on conflict" and co-host Rebecca Quick followed up by adding that syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh "has done better" when there are Democrats in power.
Kernen said that Limbaugh and Fox News Channel and syndicated radio host Sean Hannity both signed new deals and an Obama win would be "great for them."
If Team McCain needed some "bulletin-board material"—the kind of outrageous taunt from the opposition a coach will pin up in the locker-room to inspire his troops—they got if from Charlie Cook tonight. So confident is the pollster of an Obama victory, he's proclaimed that if McCain wins, he'll go to work bagging groceries or behind a fast-food counter.
Cook was a guest on this evening's Race for the White House. It was in looking at the Electoral College map with host David Gregory that he made his super-sized pledge.
Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR—a self-described progressive media watch group—now a professor of independent media at Ithaca College, invited me to address his class of student bloggers this afternoon. Asked to name some of the fairer MSM journalists, I included David Gregory on my short list. That could understandably come as a surprise to those who remember Gregory from his days as NBC's chief White House correspondent, when he earned the ire of the Bush administration for his often-aggressive style. But I've found that Gregory plays it pretty much down the middle in his new role as host of Race for the White House on MSNBC.
By coincidence, on this evening's show Gregory vindicated my confidence with some tough questioning of an Obama surrogate on the issue of taxes and spending. Gregory went so far as to suggest that Obama's indication that he might not press for immediate implementation of tax increases on higher earners makes McCain's case. Gregory's guest was Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. When Van Hollen suggested Obama might postpone his tax-increase plan, Gregory moved in . . .
They [the RNC] are calling voters, cold calls, and saying to them, what about William Ayers and the close working relationship he had [with Obama], which is not true by anybody's count . . . It certainly is a mischaracterization of the relationship. -- Andrea Mitchell to Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), MSNBC 10-17-08.
Andrea Mitchell, meet Stanley Kurtz . . .
It's turning into Andrea Mitchell Day here. Earlier, I noted how Mitchell, measuring the drapes for Obama, predicted that he would run a "bipartisan" administration. Now Mitchell has ridden to Obama's defense, denying that he ever worked closely with Wiliam Ayers.
If you're going base an entire TV show on taking potshots at conservatives and Republicans for anything and everything, you might try to get at least the simple things right - things like grade-school U.S. geography.
MSNBC's Oct. 13 "Rachel Maddow Show" must not have read that memo. After launching into a Keith Olbermann-esque tirade criticizing Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain's geographic campaign strategy, the best and the brightest couldn't correctly label the state of Indiana, mistaking it for Illinois - which ironically is Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's home state.
How unbalanced was MSNBC's "Race for the White House" panel this evening? The two Obama-friendly panelists—Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and Richard Wolffe of Newsweek—were ostensibly offset by Philly radio talker Michael Smerconish and Independent Women's Forum head Michelle Bernard. But channeling Dem congressman James Clyburn on this morning's Today, Smerc called the House Republicans "sophomoric." That was nothing. One-upping Smerconish in the pejorative department, Bernard said that every recent McCain move has been "like an epileptic fit."
Joe Scarborough, putting in a long day's work and subbing for regular host David Gregory, teed up Bernard's snipe with a negative take of his own on McCain's behavior.
"Shovel your ratings" appears to be Morning Joe's subliminal message to Keith Olbermann today. With the latest ratings showing Rachel Maddow's new MSNBC show beating Olbermann's Countdown, the MJ panel went out of its way to congratulate Maddow on her success, repeatedly mentioning what a "good person" she is and how nice it is to see such people do well.
The crew was riffing off the Drudge headline "Move Over, Olbermann, Rachel Maddow Tops MSNBC Ratings." As seen in the Drudge screencap [after the jump], on Tuesday Maddow beat Olbermann--the perennial MSNBC ratings leader--by a count of 1.8 million to 1.63 million. She also bested CNN's Larry King, among others. Scarborough & Co. never mentioned Olbermann by name. But the invidious-comparison-by-omission in their pointed praise of Maddow's good-personhood left little doubt that the wounds opened by Olbermann's open-mic slap at Scarborough, in which, during the Dem convention, he told Joe to "get a shovel" for remarks too GOP-friendly for Keith's liking, have yet to heal.
View the video, and be sure to stay tuned to the end. Mika tries to move the show along, but Scarborough pointedly persists, basking in the times when "good people do well." Got, it, Keith?
Monday night featured MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow finding fault with Sarah Palin's religious beliefs and some of the teachings of her former church in Wasilla, Alaska, as the two harped on a speech the Alaska governor delivered at the Wasilla Assembly of God last June.
On the first episode of her new television program, the "Rachel Maddow Show," the eponymous host misinterpreted Palin's request that church members pray for American troops, as the Alaska governor expressed her hope that the Iraq war is part of "God's plan," with the MSNBC host claiming that Palin was "asserting" that the war factually is "God's plan."
Maddow claimed that Palin "said that the commander-in-chief for our side in the Iraq War is a mighty general who's initials are G-O-D." On Countdown, Olbermann and Maddow took exception with Palin's account of a minister who prayed that she would be successful in her political life as they mocked the concept of praying in the hopes that prayers might be answered. Olbermann referred to Palin as "Elmer Gantry" and "Amy Semple McHockey Mom."
Less than two hours after Peggy Noonan and former McCain advisor Mike Murphy appeared on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon, a YouTube video appeared of their candid exchange in which they dismissed Sarah Palin’s viability as a VP pick. The speed at which the video appeared indicated that it almost certainly originated from someone inside MSNBC, another favor for the Democrats this election year.
Joshua Micah Marshall’s blog Talking Points Memo and the blog of Michael Calderone of the Politico broke news of Noonan and Murphy’s comments. The exchange started as MSNBC Chuck Todd previewed what was coming up next on the program before a commercial break 20 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour, as Noonan and Murphy began a discussion off-camera, picked up by a hot mike. Todd then joined the discussion once the commercial break began. None of their discussion actually made it on the air for this reason.
Sometimes the qualities that make a strong candidate in one pool make them a weak candidate in another pool.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would hurt Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain as a running mate because of "vulnerability" stemming from his successful businesses and support for free trade, according to a reporter for The Washington Post.
"On the whole subject of trade deals and free trade agreements is that a vulnerability, a potential vulnerability on the side of Mitt Romney?" Andrea Mitchell asked Post reporter Chris Cillizza on the August 28 broadcast of "MSNBC Live".
"It absolutely is," said Cillizza, who writes "The Fix" blog at WashingtonPost.com. "And that's a calculation I think the McCain campaign has to make. Yes, Mitt Romney has great business bona fides. Built a business, he used that line many times in the primary: ‘I know why jobs come and I know why they go.'"
"The other side of that, however, is he worked for a company called Bingham Capital that occasionally engaged in leverage buyouts, that means shipping jobs overseas. That's not the kind of thing that's going to go over well in these rust belt states where McCain needs to perform well, most notably Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania," Cillizza said.
On Monday's "MSNBC News Live," journalist Andrea Mitchell and Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart discussed whether Americans are not "sophisticated" enough to understand the attempted satire in the cartoon featured on the cover of the current New Yorker magazine. According to Mitchell, "...The only question there is whether [the cover] is too sophisticated to actually be perceived the way it is intended."
The image in question features Barack Obama in Muslim clothing with a flag burning in the background and is an obvious parody and an example of the liberal contention that conservatives are questioning the patriotism of the Democratic presidential contender. The Post's Capehart suggested that the uneducated voters in Middle America might not comprehend the high minded satire: "...The folks at the New Yorker are very smart, very learned, learned people, but once you get outside of the confines of Manhattan and the Upper West Side, you sort of begin to wonder if anyone-- if there was a conversation around the table about how will this be viewed by people who won't necessarily get the joke."
Has NBC White House Correspondent David Gregory turned over a new leaf?
Gregory, who has earned a lot of critics for having an anti-Bush/liberal bias, made it seem that way during a discussion about ethics in politics and journalism Thursday. He claimed to struggle with Jewish teachings about saying bad things about others - at least when it comes to Democrats.
Not to be unkind, but how can one purport to conduct a serious post mortem of Hillary Clinton's failed candidacy without mentioning what would seem an obvious—and very important—factor: her personality that to many American was less-than-appealing, in a contest pitting her against the unusually charming Barack Obama?
Yet David Gregory ignored the personality factor entirely in his "post mortem, Powerpoint edition" on this evening's Race for the White House. Instead, he identified—and invited his panel to comment on—these five factors:
Not sure that would be a winning campaign slogan for Barack Obama, but on today's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski expressed skepticism as to whether Americans really care about winning in Iraq. Mika made her comments in the course of touting Frank Rich's NYT column of yesterday [on which I commented here].
Brzezinski was clearly eager to make her point: after reading an extended excerpt from Rich's column and inviting comment from the panel, she didn't let a bemused John Harwood of CNBC/NYT get more than a few words out before cutting him off to express her own opinion.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Anyone want to comment?
JOHN HARWOOD: Well, I don't think Americans forgot Iraq --
BRZEZINSKI: You know what? I think Americans are tired of being duped, and I think this is coming back, from the McClellan book. I mean, everyone talks about how Americans want to win, want to win. I don't know so much with Iraq.
Four years before Barack Obama gave Chris Matthews a "thrill" up his leg, the senator produced a "chill" in the MSNBC host's leg. On July 27, 2004, during coverage of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Matthews reacted to Obama's prime-time address by rhapsodizing, "I have to tell ya, a little chill in my, in my legs now." [audio available here]
On February 12, 2008, following primary results in Virginia and Maryland, the "Hardball" host again gushed over Obama, this time after a victory speech. Speaking of the Democratic candidate, he fawned, "I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often." So, first there was the "chill." Four years later, Obama produced a "thrill." One can only imagine what feelings the likely presidential nominee will createfor Chris Matthews's appendages at the 2008 Democratic convention.