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January 21, 2011
Too smart for MSNBC?
So what happened with the O'Donnell confrontation? (Sincere apologies to anyone who sat through last night's show waiting for me to make my appearance.) The brief answer is: I don't know.
The O'Donnell appearance was in the works for two weeks, well prior to Death by Liberalism's publication date..There was some question as to whether I'd be flown to New York or filmed at a local studio. They decided to fly me in to Manhattan. But considerable confusion existed at the "Last Word" offices, confusion that never abated. My publicist tried to firm up the arrangements, but no one seemed to know what was going on. Finally, this past Wednesday, they decided to film in a local studio. (Strangely enough, it wasn't at the local NBC station but another outfit downtown.)
I spoke to the show's producer early Thursday afternoon. She sounded enthusiastic -- even a little overenthusiastic. But when I got off the phone and sat down to check my e-mail, I found a message from my redoubtable publicist (still working the case though home fighting a vicious cold), telling me it was off. If more than ninety seconds passed between phone call and e-mail message, then I'm a bearded Jihadi.
The reasons are anybody's guess (as is customary in the biz, no explanation was offered). There have been suggestions that somebody at MSNBC finally read the book and realized that it wasn't the paranoid backwoods tract they had assumed it to be. Some contend that Larry O simply chickened out -- I'm sure his on-air opponents are chosen very carefully. Or has an executive decision been made to low-key references to AT? (Our esteemed editor and publisher Thomas Lifson tells me that Keith Olbermann deigned to sneer at an AT piece Wednesday.) Or could it have been that more "important" news stories shoved DbL aside. (I would love to know if Rep. Steven Cohen appeared on the show to get his head patted, but I've washed my hands of all things O'Donnell at the moment.) If asked to guess I'd say it was a combination of factors.
It's a pity. Watching videos of O'Donnell over the past few days, it became clear to me that he's a bully with a unwarranted reputation for forensic skill and inside knowledge. He possesses precisely two techniques: interruptions and tantrums. (There's an actual Google search thread titled "Lawrence O'Donnell Rants" featuring over 58,000 entries. What a thing for a grown man to be known for.) Both are relatively easy to counter -- one method of short-circuiting a tantrum is goad the opponent into a rip-roaring seizure first thing and then take him apart at your leisure afterward. After all, he can't continue throwing one fit after the other without looking like a maniac. I would have liked to have had the chance.
So we've been deprived of some media exposure (albeit on the leftward end of the spectrum), an interesting debate, and, I'm convinced, another notch for my belt. A shame all around. But, as somebody said, keep on keepin' on: we'll do better next time.