Friday, August 29, 2008

See, it's kind of like Foster Brooks
telling Lindsay Lohan to sober up

It's a bad, bad reflection on the product you're putting on the air when the likes of Connie Chung is telling your anchors to grow up.

TO REMIND YOU of how horrible an indictment that is for MSNBC's political coverage, I reluctantly have posted Mrs. Maury Povich's -- Really, doesn't that say it all right there? -- farewell to her and Maury's three viewers when the cable network canceled their weekend show in 2006.

But, for what it's worth, here's a
Wall Street Journal account of on-air behavior so disturbing that Chung was willing to suffer the inevitable slings and arrows (such as mine) accompanying her, of all people, calling out the malefactors:
The convention was supposed to be the network's coming-out party as a hub for politics. But a year of programming and personnel changes have led to behind-the-scenes strain, which bubbled to the surface repeatedly this week in open arguments between hosts.

In an uncomfortable moment Tuesday night, an exhausted-looking "Hardball" host Chris Matthews shouted at a producer ("I'll wrap in a second!") before a stilted exchange with "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann, in which the two argued about who was talking out of turn. Mr. Olbermann made a flapping-lips hand gesture, and Mr. Matthews took umbrage. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sat quietly on-screen, waiting to be interviewed.

That incident followed a seven-minute back-and-forth Tuesday afternoon between "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough and network correspondent David Shuster. Mr. Scarborough, a former Republican representative from Florida, accused Mr. Shuster, a registered independent, of taking a "cheap shot" by mentioning his party affiliation. Mr. Scarborough sarcastically added: "I feel so comforted by the fact that you're an independent. I bet everyone at MSNBC has 'independent' on their voting cards."

Since the early days of CNN's "Crossfire," cable news has relied on strong personalities to keep drama high and viewers tuned in throughout the day, when news isn't always exciting enough to keep the audience's attention. Passionate debate can make for great television -- and terrific ratings.

But some found this level of personal bickering hard to watch.

"My reaction to that is: 'Grow up!' They have to just grow up," said Connie Chung, a former MSNBC host and former co-anchor of "CBS Evening News."

I DON'T KNOW about you, but I need a stiff drink.

But until I can go round up a fifth of Early Times for each of us, I thought I'd remind us all of what it was like when the grown-ups still ran TV news:

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