September 9, 2008
Objectivity at NBC and MSNBC? Don't Hold Your Breath
Ed Lasky, American Thinker's news editor, recently speculated on the ramifications of the demotions of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann as MSNBC's political anchors:
"MSNBC seems to have retreated from hyper-partisans as anchors. Could we be seeing the beginning of a trend?"
If my experience before my debate on Sarah Palin's acceptance speech is any indication, the entire National Broadcasting Corporation will have to be reconstructed before the hoped for (and needed) trend becomes an actual effort by the network to provide political coverage that remotely resembles "objective."
NBC and Al Jazeera shared space in the skybox at the Xcel Energy Center where the RNC was held. I participated in a live debate on world-wide television via Al Jazeera English TV that took place in that shared space right after Palin's speech. Here is what the skybox looked like just prior to Palin's speech:
The two women on the far right in the picture were the producers for Al Jazeera (the network that broadcast the debate). The two women on the far left were producers for NBC. The five of us ended up sitting together on the top step in the picture and listening to Palin's speech. As I reported last week:
"Two Caucasian women, NBC staff, sat at my left. Two Arabic women, Al Jazeera, sat to my right.... The Al Jazeera employees listened intently to Palin's magnificent speech.... Though they clearly disagreed with her, they were just as clearly impressed.Meanwhile, on my left, the two NBC gals were snarling at Palin like rabid dogs. They were vulgar and demeaning; they were, as we say in Idaho, downright disgusting."
But that is not the whole story. Early in Palin's speech, the NBC gals were whining, like a couple of stood up sorority sisters, that the speech contained no specific policy recommendations. When I reminded them that specifics were few and far between at the Democrat's convention, one of them snapped at me, "There were specifics. I was there. On the last night, there were specifics."
I noted, in reply, that this was not the final night of the Republican's convention. If looks could kill, her glance in my direction would have left me writing this blog from the cool comfort of a coffin six feet under the earth.
Several minutes into the speech it became obvious that Palin was not always following the teleprompter. I pointed this out.
"Oh, she's reading it." The NBC producer sounded certain. She was ... shrill. "She always reads it. Every word she speaks is written for her. She doesn't say a word -- unless some hack writes it out for her and McCain pre-approves it."
"Look. Look at her eyes. She's not always reading it. Just look," I pleaded, to no avail. Facts were not about to change this woman's mind. That's the way it is at NBC. So don't hold your breath waiting for a trend.
Larrey Anderson is a writer and philosopher. His latest award-winning novel is The Order of the Beloved.