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“The Worst Possible Version Of Himself”: Yeah, MSNBC, Mark Halperin Will Solve All Your Problems

What do the thought leaders in the liberal blogosphere think about Mark Halperin? Well, Markos Moulitsas says he’s “a useless piece of shit who is always wrong about everything,” “has no political acumen,” and has been “engaged in a long-running jihad against the truth.” Duncan Black says that Halperin “sucks ass” and is “proud of the fact that Matt Drudge rules his world.” Gawker’s new boss, Alex Pareene says Halperin is “the world’s laziest dispenser of conventional wisdom” and “the worst hack in America.” Also he’s so bad at what he does that “the most offensive thing about the existence of Mark Halperin is that he’s the worst possible version of himself.” Esquire‘s Charles Pierce says Halperin is one of “the worst two things that have happened to American political journalism in the past 30 years” because “he long ago invented the kind of Beltway insidery railbird bullshit that passes today for analysis.” Heather Digby Parton says that Halperin is “the quintessential Villager, a man who exhales conventional wisdom the way the rest of us exhale carbon dioxide.” Ed Kilgore is especially brutal on this subject:

Mark Halperin is one of the most famous, and certainly one of the most richly remunerated, journalists in Christendom—yet is capable of writing graph after graph and page after page of palpable nonsense, expressing not only an indifference to but an active defiance of any objective evidence that transcends the “insider” information he purveys…

…He writes what Villagers want to read, and is rewarded with unequaled access to their most avaricious thoughts and intentions. And because they do matter in politics, albeit not as much as they would wish, there is a sort of “journalism” going on, but not of the sort that should be taken seriously…

I bring this up because MSNBC wants to do something very silly.

The talks, first reported by New York Magazine, center around rebroadcasting Bloomberg’s 5 p.m. show “With All Due Respect” at 6 p.m. on MSNBC, sources at both networks who are familiar with the discussions said.

“With All Due Respect” is hosted by “Game Change” co-authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, who are regular guests on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

For many at NBC, the idea of rebroadcasting a competitor’s show feels desperate. “Talk about out of ideas,” one on-air talent at MSNBC said. “We’re going to run a rerun of another rival network’s show? As a programming decision that is completely insane.”

That last quote there is pretty easy to put in Rachel Maddow’s mouth, don’t you think?

In any case, who’s the audience for MSNBC’s political programming? Who are their fans? Who do those fans read on the internet? Who do they respect?

And even if much of the MSNBC audience has never heard of weird names like Atrios, BooMan, digby, and kos, they’re still cut from the same kind of cloth. They do not want to listen to Mark Halperin for ten minutes, let alone a full hour. If they don’t already, they will hate Halperin with the white hot heat of a thousand suns.

Maybe the management should ask the greatest blogger of all time, The Rachel Maddow Show producer Steve Benen, what he thinks about airing Mark Halperin Bloomberg reruns at 6 p.m.

Here’s what Benen had to say about Halperin back in August 2008:

It’s difficult to identify with any real certainty the single worst political analysis of the presidential campaign, but if you missed ABC News’ “This Week” yesterday, you missed Time‘s Mark Halperin offering analysis that was so bizarre, it was tempting to think it was intended as satire. Only in this case, Halperin was serious.

So, if this is what MSNBC Chairman Andrew Lack wants to do, he should resign before he humiliates himself and pisses off all the actual talent he’s already assembled.

It’s also unclear that either side would get a significant ratings boost from the deal. MSNBC’s 5 p.m. show, “MTP Daily,” hosted by Chuck Todd, has floundered in the ratings. The show has averaged 499,000 viewers since it launched, and just 65,000 of those viewers are in the coveted 25-to-54 year-old demographic.

But sources at NBC say Lack may be less concerned with ratings than with relevance. Halperin and Heilemann are big names in New York and Washington, and their addition could buy MSNBC a greater stake in the political discussion during the 2016 campaign. To that end, sources said, he may be willing to overlook the hurdles.

Trying to be more relevant by running reruns of Mark Halperin that first aired on a rival network that no one watches?

Good luck with that.


By: Martin Longman, Web Editor for the Washington Monthly, November 20, 2015

November 29, 2015 Posted by | Journalism, Mark Halperin, MSNBC | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Swarm Of Media Cicadas”: Morning Joe’s Week-Long Whine Over Obama ‘Optics’

It started a while ago, but it may have reached an absurd peak this week: Joe Scarborough, Chuck Todd and the MSNBC morning crew’s whining about Obama’s ostensible tin ear and awful “optics.”

What so unnerved them this time was that Obama gave a speech on the economy in the aftermath of the Navy Yard shootings in Washington. That bad timing is proof, said Joe, that the president is facing a “lame-duck meltdown.”

In the Monday speech, long planned for the fifth anniversary of the financial collapse, Obama attacked the GOP for risking “economic chaos,” with its threats to shut down the government if Obamacare isn’t defunded (which the House just voted for today) and to refuse to raise the debt ceiling. Obama addressed the massacre, and he delayed the speech by an hour but no longer because, as he later told Telemundo, “Congress has a lot of work to do right now.”

That set off nearly three days of Morning Joe tsk-tsking, as if they were a swarm of media cicadas. Mika made sad faces, Joe went into his customary high dungeon, and the other boys, including Mike Barnacle, John Heilemann and liberal Donny Deutsch, joined the concerned circle of consensus.

But it was frequent MJ guest and former George W. Bush aide Nicole Wallace who pointed out the faux pas’s true dimensions. It was, she said, as devastating a moment as when her old boss, asked what was the biggest mistake he made after 9/11, said he couldn’t think of one. “This for me is that moment for Obama,” Wallace said, “where he is publicly showing us he’s incapable of adapting and adjusting to events. It’s incredibly revealing and incredibly damaging to the White House.”

Wallace, a moderate Republican, may sincerely believe this, if only to remind herself that good people can make bad, career-crushing decisions. She’s no stranger to that problem, having worked as Sarah Palin’s adviser in the 2008 campaign—until she realized the Alaskan governor wasn’t fit to be a vice-president. (Wallace later revealed that she didn’t vote that year.)

But no such excuse exists for the rest of the Morning Joe gang or for Chuck Todd. Todd complained about Obama’s misstep all day Tuesday. He led The Daily Rundown the next day by asking, “Where’s the outrage?”—outrage not only that Congress, just blocks from the Navy Yards shooting, wasn’t stirred to debate gun control but outrage that the president didn’t change his plans.

Maybe Obama should have rescheduled. Waiting a day wouldn’t have hurt; and, sure, he should have anticipated the media carping. But the carping itself—not just from MSNBC, of course, but from the usual suspects like Maureen Dowd and Fox News—was way out of proportion. Especially given the outrage that the same media choose not to feel every day.

Just this morning, for instance, Morning Joe mentioned yesterday’s mass shooting on the South Side of Chicago. But that didn’t change the show’s plans, which included a deep discussion on the wonders of the latest iPhone.

Where’s the outrage?! (Well, Joe did briefly rage about the Chicago violence, saying that law-abiding citizens there were asking, “Do you know if there’s a version of stop-and-frisk you can import from New York to our neighborhood?”)

And Joe and company surely spent more time this week bewailing the timing of Obama’s speech than they spent covering another still-unfolding and deadly emergency, the Colorado floods. This selective finger-wagging can go on and on—why didn’t they obsess over the House’s vote to cut food stamps by $40 billion? Or the ongoing misery by sequester? Or anything that’s more important than whatever the media take on with self-intoxicating urgency? (Remember the IRS kerfuffle, the “worst scandal since Watergate,” as Peggy Noonan wrote?)

Of course, speech-timing-gate is just part of the larger Beltway consensus that Obama is a failure as a salesman, on issues from healthcare to Syria to Larry Summers.

Obama, Politico complained, was “incoherent,” moving from calling for intervention in Syria to asking for a congressional vote “to diplomacy [with] Putin, who had spent the summer humiliating him in the Edward Snowden case.”

By giving up on Summers’s nomination to head the Fed, Politico said, “Obama also allowed a vacuum to grow in which liberals in his own party felt no compunction about publicly registering their opposition, whatever their president’s preferences.”

So Obama is a sap who listens to his Democratic and lefty critics, and occasionally changes his mind. That’s pretty much the opposite, in fact, of Nicole Wallace’s slam that “he’s incapable of adapting and adjusting to events.”

He’s either too forceful or too weak, a tyrant or a dupe. He’s never Goldilocks. You can almost hear the Morning Joe crowd: if Obama had postponed his speech in light of the violence in DC, they’d say that means the terrorists have won.

On Morning Joe yesterday, Wallace took another stab at proving the White House is in as much disarray as it was when she worked there; she asked former Obama advisor David Axlerod, Isn’t there anyone who “can walk into the Oval Office and tell the president he just screwed something up?” (Yes, said Axelrod, naming three people off the bat.)

But then, with Joe and Mika absent from the set, guests Carl Bernstein and Lawrence O’Donnell indirectly but firmly critiqued the show’s hysteria itself. Look, said Bernstein, however he did it, Obama avoided war (for now). O’Donnell cited Obama and Kerry’s accomplishments in Syria—”And this comes after a week of everyone complaining about the zig-zag,” he said, adding, “the president is dealing with something as serious as Syria policy…and all you’re getting in the media is a theater review of the performance styles.”

Obsession with performance styles will lead journalists to say the darnedest things. Chuck Todd, the political director of NBC News, said it wasn’t the media’s job to present the facts on Obamacare, asserting, “What I always love is people say, ‘Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.’ No, it’s the president of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”

After getting criticized, Todd tweeted that he was misunderstood: “point I actually made was folks shouldn’t expect media to do job WH has FAILED to do re: ACA.”

Actually, isn’t it the job of the news media, a k a journalism, to find facts and report on their distortions? Isn’t it news when politicians lie? That’s a point CREDO is making in a petition to the NBC News president, saying, “Correcting Republican lies is part of your job.”


By: Leslie Savan, The Nation, September 20, 2013

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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