Rachel Maddow Talks to Dick Armey’s Cold Shoulder on MTP

Meet the Press convened its own panel today to discuss this week’s angry town halls and the death panel, Nazi, Tree of Liberty assertions that have accompanied them. Today’s panel consisted of three middle-aged white men and Rachel Maddow (with a drop-in from Charles Rangel). Tom Daschle assures the abrasive tone some of the town halls have taken is merely the sound of Democracy. Senator Coburn (R- OK) says the tone is not about Health Care at all, but fear of loss of control over the government. Rachel Maddow thinks that the Dems are giving up their elected majority to GOP’s like Senator Grassley who are touring the country handing out copies of Glenn Beck’s book. And Dick Army mostly appears tolerantly amused that Maddow has been allowed on the panel at all. Until she starts grilling him, at which point he turns a cold shoulder, literally.

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“Crazy Larry” Goes Nuclear on MSNBC-Bashing GOP Congressman

odonnell_8-15Sometimes an interview goes off the rails, and it’s very obvious where things started going poorly. But Lawrence O’Donnell’s interview-like segment (it would be giving it too much credit to actually call it an “interview”) with GOP Rep. John Culberson of Texas yesterday was awful and shouty from start to finish. It left an agitated Culberson bashing MSNBC as a network after being interrupted for the umpteenth time.

As Joe Scarborough described it on Twitter, “Lawrence O’Donnell (aka Crazy Larry) erupts on congressman.” Let’s take a look at what happened.

Scarborough later joked, “Going on the Today Show at 7a to talk Health Care Reform. Praying to Jesus that Lawrence isn’t the one conducting the interview!”

It started by O’Donnell, filling in for Chris Matthews on Hardball, running the “Is Medicare socialism?” line of questioning into the ground, over and over again. “Lawrence, you’re illustrating why MSNBC’s viewership is in the tank, because you don’t allow the people you’re interviewing to answer questions,” said Culberson.

Then it was time for the hypothetical portion of the “interview.” O’Donnell forced Culberson to say how he would have voted in 1935 on social security, and in 1965 on Medicare. It wasn’t enough for Culberson to give his take on each of the programs – O’Donnell wanted a literal ‘yay or nay.’

“Do you wonder why nobody listens to MSNBC?” asked Culberson. “They don’t want to hear your endless spinning,” said O’Donnell, who apparently thought people wanted to hear his endless interrupting.

Then it was time for the name-calling part of the “interview.” “You lied to America about the evil of government health care, because you people not one of you liars about government health care is willing to repeal Medicare,” said O’Donnell, as Culberson looked around baffled.

It was an embarrassing interview, exacerbated by the fact that Culberson was being especially reasonable throughout. O’Donnell is known for his occasional outbursts, particularly another lie-related one on MSNBC in 2004. Just like the town hall protesters who yell and scream don’t quiet down enough to get to the actual issues, the same goes for interviews that devolve into a shouting match and irrelevant tangents. Disagreement is great – and particularly great for cable news – but there needs to be a certain civility to the discussion.

Here’s the interview:


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Mediaite’s Own Health Care Town Hall Meeting

In honor light of all the coverage health care town hall meetings are getting, Mediaite decided to hold a town hall of its own. We wanted to know what New York had to say about the proposed health care bill. Alas, New York has not been one of the states blessed with an exciting Town Hall (and New Jersey doesn’t count). So, we did what we could. In an effort to make this as Town Hall-y as possible, we tried to get people to yell at us, make some impromptu word associations, and, although very difficult, pick their favorite clause in HR 3200. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite manage to elicit the Arlen Specter Effect from people; New York is quite docile in August. Who knew! Highlights below.


Mad Men’s Kosher Karousel

mad men season 3“Nostalgia,” said Don Draper to the hushed and darkened room. “It’s delicate, but potent…Teddy told me that in Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.” Then he convinced a roomful of clients that calling it a Carousel might actually reinvent the wheel. Suckers!

But seriously: If you are reading this instead of enjoying a beautiful summer weekend, then you, too, are afflicted with that same pain. We can’t speed time up and make it Sunday at 10 p.m. any faster than the Lord or Matthew Weiner willeth, but we can pull together a few videos that will slake your mighty thirst, momentarily.

1. Meshugeneh Men

Created by then-Daily Show writer (now Tonight Show writer) Rob Kutner for his annual Purim comedy show in New York (along with his wife, Penn & Teller comedy writer Sheryl Zohn), but really it works just as well for Rosh Hashanah. Cameos by Amy Sedaris and Ellie Kemper (who plays Erin the receptionist on The Office):



2. Mad Libs Men:

College Humor’s take on Mad Men, coincidentally featuring the same guy as Don Draper (Matthew Walton). This guy better hope the third season is good; there’s a nice little market in parody videos, and Mad Men is pretty fertile. LIKE BETTY DRAPER?




3. Two A-Holes At A Sixties Ad Agency

This excellent and star-studded video is from when Jon Hamm hosted SNL last October. The return of the A-Holes plus the merging of them with a retro-Mad Men story pitch was pretty perfect. Featured guest-cameo by John Slattery, who is also pretty hot, and Elizabeth Moss, who was not originally supposed to be in it but stepped in at the last minute when Amy Poehler inconveniently went into labor. Hamm’s speech about the Hula Hoop gets me misty, almost as misty as Jon Hamm’s John Hamm.




4. The Simpsons Mad Men Parody

Like many Mad Men clips on YouTube, the embedding has been disabled. But if you want to see it, it’s here.

simpsons mad men

Related:
The Mad Men (And Women!) of Morning Joe

Pic above via Mad Men official website.

FNC Beats All Cable News Competition Combined Again

Cable news ratings, August 12, 2009: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

• Fox News beat all of its competitors (CNN, MSNBC, HLN and CNBC) combined again last night in total viewers and the A25-54 demographic in prime time – for the third consecutive night. FNC averaged 2,982,000 total viewers and 834,000 in the demo. This was the 5th time in 2009 FNC accomplished the feat.

Christiane Amanpour’s special from 9-11pmET last night for CNN averaged 235,000 viewers in the demo and 735,000 total viewers. That placed her in 3rd place in both categories, way behind FNC and behind MSNBC as well.

Keith Olbermann had the top rated non-FNC show in both categories again last night for MSNBC.

• MSNBC topped CNN in the race for #2 in prime time, in both categories.

Check out all the ratings below, and leave your own thoughts in the comments:

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

 

662

Blitzer

 

157

Matthews

 

108

Prime

 

185

6 pm Baier

 

502

Blitzer

 

166

EdShow

 

157

Prime

 

131

7 pm Shep

 

542

Dobbs

 

159

Matthews

 

139

Issues

 

130

8 pm O’Reilly

 

960

Brown

 

235

Olbermann

 

318

Grace

 

213

9 pm Hannity

 

821

Amanpour

 

235

Maddow

 

284

Issues

 

128

10 pm Greta

 

719

 

Olbermann

 

241

Grace

 

133

11 pm O’Reilly

 

627

Cooper

 

169

Maddow

 

184

Showbiz

 

114

TOTAL DAY 475 166 147 119
PRIME TIME 834 235 281 153
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

 

2411

Blitzer

 

770

Matthews

 

425

Prime

 

359

6 pm Baier

 

2042

Blitzer

 

612

EdShow

 

429

Prime

 

227

7 pm Shep

 

1866

Dobbs

 

623

Matthews

 

511

Issues

 

351

8 pm O’Reilly

 

3520

Brown

 

748

Olbermann

 

988

Grace

 

605

9 pm Hannity

 

2857

Amanpour

 

735

Maddow

 

975

Issues

 

425

10 pm Greta

 

2528

—–

 

—–

Olbermann

 

691

Grace

 

422

11 pm O’Reilly

 

1760

Cooper

 

442

Maddow

 

461

Showbiz

 

380

TOTAL DAY 1625 559 423 298
PRIME TIME 2982 739 885 475
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.

Now Would Be A Great Time For the MSM to Prove It’s Still Relevant

Picture 5Yesterday on our Office Hours show guest Garrett Graff noted that every August when congressman and senators return to their states and some story arises out of a public disaffection over the issue of the day and grabs the national spotlight. This year it is the Health Care debate. Last year it was…well it was the campaign. There was no summer news slump last year to hijack (unless you count the brief appearance of the Montauk Monster!). Both the conventions landed at the end of the summer and it was full steam ahead throughout the weeks leading to them. The summer before? Well believe it or not that was the campaign also. It’s hard to recall now, but the presidential debates started eight months before the primaries officially began in January ‘08, and they kept the MSM fairly occupied throughout.

So what was the summer slump storyline of 2006? No idea. A quick scan of TVNewser’s headlines from August 2006 (which give a sense of what the cablers were talking about at the time) show that no one story dominated. A glance at Frank Rich’s columns from the month are equally non-revealing. Point being, it’s been quite some time since a summer news story high-jacked the national headlines the way the shouting over the Town Hall-Health Care debacle has managed to do. The ratings gods must be very grateful!

The question now, of course, is does anyone actually know what they are shouting about? The proposed Health Care bill is currently 1000 plus pages of policy wonkiness. That’s a lot of complicated reading. That’s a lot of opportunity for certain people to paint it in broad strokes. It’s also a lot of opportunity for people in need of a narrative to create one! But has it gone too far? A lot of people think so. Namely Glenn Beck’s advertisers who did not take too kindly to his comments that the President was racist and the Health Plan was actually a secret eugenics program. In fact Fox News as a whole is lately coming under some fire for inciting the unrest (Gawker’s John Cook had a most excellent piece on this the other day: “It’s as if there had been a 24-hour cable news channel in 1981 devoted to coverage of Jodie Foster, and what it would take for someone to get her attention.”). That said it’s not like the other cablers are adding much insight beyond a lot of additional chatter/yelling. MSNBC and CNN are just as guilty of latching on to the town hall “controversies” as anyone. You know what would be great right now? Some MSM intervention.

There is so much disinformation flying around at the moment wouldn’t it be great to have someone in the media who had at their disposal the time and resources, step in and separate fact from fiction. And we mean really separate it in a slow and deliberate way. Like, say, a Sunday Times in-depth expose about what we are hearing on TV vs. what is actually written down in the bill. Or, how about a serious rebuttal of Sarah Palin and Senator Grassley’s assertions. Not just what they are saying, but what they are saying wrong. And why isn’t someone in the MSM calling out Fox (Keith Olbermann doesn’t count, in fact he should probably be added to the list)? What about devoting five minutes of every network news cast next week to truth squading the Death Panel claims! This is what the MSM does well: a longer, slower, prepared news report. Details! Digging! Everyone still employed by newspapers and networks is so keen to tell us that newspapers and networks are still relevant, wouldn’t now be a great time to demonstrate that fact? With facts? People will listen. The MSM is down, but not out. People — meaning bloggers, cablers, and town hall attendees — still listen to what they say. We’ve seen a bit of what they are capable of today with the NYT expose of Betsy McCaughey. It would be nice to see that “public trust” leveraged in a more consistent and useful way while we still have it at our disposal.

Panel Nerds: Corporations and Cable News

pnerdsWho: Brian Stelter and Steve Rendall

What: Gelf Magazine’s Media Circus “The Corporate Influence on Cable News”

Where: JLA Studios Art Gallery

When August 13, 2009

Thumbs: Up

When people talk about bias on cable news, they are usually referring to the political leanings of the networks’ hosts, pundits and reporters. But recently discussion has centered more on the bias imposed by corporate influence and interests.

Steve Rendall says that cable news is a tricky term since there’s very little news as part of it. He said that reporters have revealed to him that their networks won’t cover certain topics because they are of a sensitive nature to parent companies. Legally, networks must cater to their shareholders’ best interests, with public interest coming second.

In his recent New York Times story, Brian Stelter uncovered what happens at some of those closed-door meetings. He reported a truce that was struck between NewsCorp., which owns Fox News, and General Electric, NBC’s parent company. The story made Stelter some enemies at the networks (video below).

As Stelter began to investigate these claims in June, he said that sources at the networks repeatedly compared their corporate marching orders to the pressure other reporters felt in Iraq at the start of the war. This comparison didn’t sit well with him. Further complicating this matter, Stelter said, was a Fox source who indicated that the network strove to counter-balance the bias he and his colleagues saw taking place regularly on MSNBC. Stelter correctly pointed out that Fox’s mantra – to remain “fair and balanced” -had turned into something else altogether – a spirited need to provide “balance” between networks.

Both Stelter and Rendall pointed to ombudsmen as the solution. As of now, outside groups have stepped in to monitor the networks for accuracy in reporting. But Stelter urges the networks to appoint their own ombudsmen to chime in during broadcasts when they hear misleading remarks. While he thinks we’re a long way from seeing networks address their own issues on air, he says it’s good that someone, whether competitors or critics, is watching the networks closely.

What They Said

“The media could have done something about it. They could have put out that fire well before. It shows a real double-standard. If Michael Moore said that about people on the right, it would be a far different story.”

– Steve Rendall says that the birthers should have been handled better when they first emerged

“If I was CNN, I’d do Twitter on TV. I’d take the top story that hour and cover that.”

- Brian Stelter would change many things about cable news

“When people ask me how to save the future of journalism, I say ‘Let’s take a step back and figure out what’s worth saving.’”

- Steve Rendall doesn’t have the business model to procure a sounder foundation for news reporting.

What We Thought

  • We liked Stelter’s point that CNN has come out being perceived as the most reliable of the news channels. It’s also to some degree been labeled as the dysfunctional one.
  • Rendall said that its not accurate to judge based on ratings, where Fox News is #1. He said that Bill O’Reilly salaciously panders to porn stars and other attention-grabbing guests. Say what you want about MSNBC’s hosts or bias but at least the network sticks to the issues.
  • We liked the passion that these two panelists brought to the discussion. They provided both anecdotal and documented evidence to back up their claims. In discussions like this one, it’s important to hear both reflections on what they see happening on television each day and also what the research and statistics substantiate.

PANEL RULES!

Some audience behavior seems to repeat itself panel after panel. We’ll be updating a running list of “PANEL RULES!” that will help ensure that you are not the dweeb of the Panel Nerds.

Panel Nerds don’t like…9/11 Sleuthers

9/11 was a terrible tragedy. But you don’t have to seek it out as the cause of every mysterious wrongdoing. Even if you think that we’re still dealing with a litany of new laws and repressive governmental acts from then (which you do; that was clear), that doesn’t mean it has anything to do with the delivery of cable news. 9/11 isn’t the cause of everything.


Panel Nerds Etan Bednarsh and Danny Groner are New York-based writers and avid panel-goers. Want them at your panel? Email them here: PanelNerds@mediaite.com