We in the I-Nation have all been aware that MSNBC’s deficiencies were at the core of the crisis that brought us all together April last year, where free speech ran into people’s expectation of what a “news channel” ought to be. The weak decision to drop Imus was standard operating procedure for Steve Capus and the MSNBC management, who now preside over the cable net’s implosion, indeed whose decisions are defining the implosion, one-by-one.
So rather than get rid of racism when they got rid of Imus, it got worse. With Chris Matthews and the entire MSNBC team covering the Dem primary from a purely sexist/racist angle. The twin historical ‘firsts’—a black man or a woman Presidential nominee—became the only issue. This devolved still further into coverage that focused more often than not on whether this or that special interest group would vote for the black man or the woman. With the Democrat contenders showing few substantial policy differences, these became the only issues.
Issues flowing from the network’s identity crisis have now bubbled up into several embarrassing on-air tantrums. The place is falling apart.
DENVER—Amid a spate of awkward on-air conflicts among MSNBC anchors at this week’s Democratic convention, some staff members say there are sharp internal disputes at the cable network over whether its opinion and personality-driven political coverage has crossed the line.
“The situation at our channel is about to blow up,” a high-ranking MSNBC journalist told Politico on Wednesday.
Two other MSNBC sources said some of the testy on-air exchanges between Keith Olbermann — whose quick-witted and often caustic commentary has fueled ratings growth — and other network personalities were a public glimpse of much more intense behind-the-scenes turmoil.
The central problem is that they are not a news channel. But they think they are. They think their format is news, but it’s not. They dabble in news. They want to be a news channel, it’s romantic to them, but they don’t have the discipline.
Olbermann’s been leaning pretty far into the turns these past couple years, if you know what I mean.
Did somebody say something about chickens coming home to roost?