Remedial Interviewing on MSNBC

I should have known better.

I decided to pop on the tv to see a headline or two just now and what do I see but the funny little man with Chris Hayes on MSNBC. Mr. Hayes has just been given the distinct privilege of having his own national show – granted, an early morning weekend show on a network with 5 viewers, but – this is what I saw on the CC I keep on so I can just glance over and not have to actually listen. I’ll get a few words wrong but this is the gist of it:

Chris Hayes: “I find interviewing politicans incredibily difficult. It’s like, they don’t want to answer. I watch you do it and I don’t know what your style is but it’s hard.”

Rachel Maddow (funny little man): “Yeah… It’s a style thing…”

Okay. Let’s unpack this. I’m not going to spend a lot of time with this, as amoeba have better things to do, never mind sentient humans, but:

1. Should you admit that you don’t know how to interview a politician on “The Place for Politics” on your debut weekend show?

2. If you can’t do it, number one, should you not at least possess the analytical skills to determine how a skilled person does it? Which leads to…

3. No wonder you can’t glean a tecnique from the funny little man because a requisite quality for a skilled interviewer is courage, which s/he/it lacks – proven by her ball-less defense of Keith Olbermann when he needed her (he “discovered” her) and he utter unwillingness to conduct thoughtful interviews with people with whom she disagrees.

That’s it. Just off the top of my head.

It hacks me off when there are so many DEMONSTRABLY talented media types on the beach and this pasty putz splays his peacock feathers in a blaze of incompetent glory.

Unbelievable shamelessness, really.

What I Learned One Night Watching MSNBC & FOX

Switching between Fox News Network and MSNBC this evening, the contrast couldn’t be more sharp.

At the bottom the screen, under Rachel Maddow, is a graphic of the capital dome with a banner of flags (Think car dealership) with letters on each flag that spell “Block Party.” Reasonable to assume that this was the network’s way of celebrating passage of the Health Care bill today. Maddow is a commentator, so it’s not like this graphic was under a “pure” news hour’s show, under an “anchor” who is, by definition if not actual practice, supposed to be impartial, but having a network hang such a purely partisan banner even under a discussion show is pushing it. When I tune into a news discussion show I do so to learn something I didn’t know before, not be fed propaganda. A banner like that tells me I am unlikely to hear anything negative about the legislation passed today. It would be like telling the birthday girl her dress is ugly, you know?

And what were they talking about? Those gun-toting Tea Partiers. Now, there still isn’t any video proof or audio proof that either congressman was, in fact, called a “N-gger” or spat at as a “F-g” but MSNBC has played the tape of the congressman reacting to something clearly unpleasant that was said over and over again. Let me repeat: Though there is tape of it, absolutely no-one has been able to ascertain from it what as actually said. Now, I’m not suggesting that the congressman lied about being called the reprehensible “N” word, but so far, all we have is a politician’s testimony. We don’t have any idea who said it, if at all, thus, no idea whatsoever if they were a Tea Partier or not. Might have been Klan, who knows?

There is also zero evidence of the “spitting” incident. That is particularly disturbing, if it happened, and if it didn’t. That’s assault. Why the congressman wouldn’t have Capital Police arrest, baffles me.

Rachel spent the entire segment showing pictures of gun-toting citizens. There were three side by side. Note: all the guns were in their holsters. Let me repeat that: all the guns were sidearms, secured in holsters. No-one was brandishing any weapons. I can make a safe assumption that if these weapons were held illegally, Rachel would have reported that. She did not. So what exactly do we have here?

An entire segment on a completely unsubstantiated feeling that Tea Partiers might get violent because they were lawfully observing their constitutionally protected right to fire arms, which, I repeat, were in their holsters. The left loves to worry about the right’s blood pressure getting all out of whack on “fear mongering” that we are supposedly victim to, but if this isn’t fear mongering, I don’t know what is. She did not have fact one to support her assertion that the Tea Party was violent or about to get violent. Not one shred of evidence.

She led the segment by reporting on the brick thrown through Rep. Slaughter’s glass at her upstate NY campaign office by…. somebody.  Not a confirmed Tea Party member.  Boy, they did their background on that guy (and still didn’t turn up any Tea Party affiliation but lets not let facts get in the way)! (Would that they would put as much energy into keeping check on the antics of the occupants of the White House as they do every conservative that comes along) This guy was a… are you ready… a member of a group that supported enforcement of… are you sure, because this is really, really scary… this guy supported the Constitution! Gasp! Now, what he did was terrible and criminal and should be condemned for the act that it was and he should be punished under the law absolutely. But to support your assertion that he is a kook by pointing out his belief in the Constitution is… an upside down world.

When I popped back again, she had some lady on from the Midwest talking about some poor kid with some terrible disease who would be helped by the Health Care bill and what monsters all the opposition were to want to take it away from this kid… The implication was clear. Conservatives want sick children to die. In fact, conservatives want all poor, helpless, suffering people to die. We want body parts falling off in the street… on puppies… which we will kick… into nuns… in wheechairs… downhill…

You get the idea. Once again, they are indulging in… ready… wait for it… fear mongering! Aside from the lack of ntellectual rigor which led them to conflate the two issues: Need for reform, and bill itself, to assert that the constitutional challenges to the bill were rooted in the black hearts of conservatives does nothing to advance the argument and everything to play into the divide this nation is already sorely feeling.

Which leads me to Fox. Know what they were talking about?

The constitutional challenges to the bill. In detail. On the law. The merits. I learned some things about the constitution and the law I did not know before. There were 5 different law experts on.

What did I learn from Rachel? Be afraid of the Constitution in general and the second amendment in particular.

Bonus:  One of the men carrying a sidearm in one of the three pictures featured side by side was the subject of one of MSNBC’s most shameful episodes.  They had taken tonight’s still picture from a video they had shown last fall of a man at a Tea Party and, like tonight, the anchors were talking about potential violence.  But back in the fall when they first showed this guy, zoomed in on his gun, the two anchors (I think it was Contessa Brewer and to be perfectly fair, it’s even possible this was CNN… but the salient facts of the breach of journalistic ethics remains the same) speculated that there might be some white boys about to behave badly.  The implication was clear:  Tea Partiers were little more than Klan draped in a flag rather than a white sheet.

Oopsie… Turned out that that “white” guy with the sidearm was black – and the network knew it.  They zoomed in on the sidearm purposely obscuring the man’s skin color.  It all came out within a matter of days but they were caught.  The raw footage was undeniable.  They didn’t just make an error, they whipped it up, fried it in a pan, and served it on a breakfast tray.