The “Hard News” Gospel, According to Luke

CLgjJOWVAAAThWoThe vaunted MSNBC “pivot” to “hard news” during the daytime hours has begun, only they haven’t figured out who’s going to be doing it. Chuck Todd is getting 5:00 pm, only he isn’t ready to re-join the Lean Forward crowd just yet, so they’re rotating people. Monday it was opinionizer Jonathan Capehart, and today we got Michael Eric Dyson. Wait, didn’t he just fill in for Ed Schultz? Oh, don’t bother yourself with such trivial matters. If Andy Lack says Michael Eric Dyson is a “hard news” anchor, he’s a hard news anchor.

We dropped in on MSNBC’s pivot to see what was going on in the 3:00 pm hour. We weren’t surprised to see Luke Russert—he was there Monday—and he anchored an hour the flitted so quickly from story to story there was barely time to Lean at all. But he managed.

The familiar tricks were on display. Benjy Sarlin, whose pedigree includes the progressive Talking Points Memo, is now an MSNBC “political reporter.” Such a tactful way of putting it. He was followed by Howard Fineman, making a nice one-two punch to solidify the left-of-center viewpoint. Anchor Russert apparently wasn’t in a challenging mood.

Later Perry Bacon, NBC’s “senior political reporter,” showed up. (So why foist that pretender Benjy on us? Might it have been because he’s an opinionizer in disguise?) Mr. Bacon was talking about voting rights legislation and that seemed to be Luke Russert’s cue to dispense some “hard news” of the Lean Forward variety:

RUSSERT: John Boehner giving a green light to move on criminal justice reform, but voting rights just stuck. It’s remarkable that in 2015 the right to vote has become such a partisan issue.

Because John Boehner won’t pass the other party’s legislation, he’s the partisan bad guy. Plus he’s denying your right to vote! Taking sides much, Luke?

Mr. Russert also works for NBC News, and you’d think they’d have an issue with their Congressional Correspondent spouting off in this fashion. Especially since this isn’t the first time Luke has dipped his toe into the opinion waters. He’s filled in for liberal MSNBC opinion hosts numerous times. On one occasion, spotted by Cable Gamer Johnny Dollar, he was hosting Alex Wagner’s leftist show. Not only was it just as one-sided as when Alex was in charge, but Russert himself managed to work in his personal endorsement for increasing the federal minimum wage!

Needless to say no conservatives or Repubs appeared as guests or analysts during today’s “hard news” hour.

Get ready, Brian Williams. You may have to introduce “reporters” like Benjy Sarlin—and Luke Russert—before too long. And if your career takes a path similar to Luke’s, maybe you’ll get to sub for Rachel Maddow!

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