Do our media reporters have any idea what’s going on in The Cable Game? We wondered that when we spotted an article in the Bible of Show Business (yes, it used to be called that before Bibles became uncool), Variety. MSNBC announced its coverage plans for the Iowa caucus and “senior tv editor” Brian Steinberg told us all about it:
Brian Williams’ duties at MSNBC will definitely extend beyond daytime hours. Williams and primetime host Rachel Maddow will co-anchor the NBCUniversal-owned cable-news network’s coming coverage of the Iowa caucus.
Steinberg notes that this pairing may raise eyebrows, but not for the reason you—or anyone who knows the first thing about The Cable Game—would think:
Teaming Maddow with Williams may, at first blush, raise some eyebrows. Maddow is largely considered to be a meticulous reporter…
Fact-check: Rachel Maddow is not a reporter, and hardly meticulous. She is an opinionizer and not a particularly good or honest one. She’s MSNBC’s Hannity, without the opposing views and nightly on-air debates. So MSNBC is using a partisan opinion host as a breaking news anchor to cover a political event in which she has taken sides. That’s what raised The Cable Gamer’s eyebrows, but it seemed to fly right past Mr. Steinberg.
Also part of the anchoring plans is Chris Matthews, a lifelong Democrat who this year has more than just an ideological bias. He has a direct personal interest in the Democrats winning the election (and an odd dislike of Cuban males). Steinberg reels off several more names who will be reporting from various Iowa locations, including Chris Hayes. Another MSNBC opinionizer, i.e. not a journalist, meticulous or otherwise.
More insight from Brian Steinberg:
MSNBC is counting on this year’s Presidential race to help it draw attention and further define itself as a place for breaking news – particularly the political kind – as it works to move itself away from being known primarily for analyzing the news through a progressive lens.
Does Mr. Steinberg know who Maddow, Matthews and Hayes are? How is it a move away from progressive news analysis to load up what is supposed to be straight news coverage with a roster of progressive news analysts masquerading as impartial journalists?
But it gets better:
The New Hampshire Union-Leader and MSNBC will hold an unsanctioned Democratic debate in the Granite State in early February that could threaten to put candidates who participate at odds with the Democratic National Committee…The debate, to be moderated by “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, will be held on Feb. 4
Who better to grill the Democrat Presidential candidates than “meticulous reporter” Rachel Maddow? Too bad Fox News, stuffy fuddy-duddies that they are, insist on having journalists moderate their debates. Just think, they could replace Megyn Kelly or Chris Wallace with Sean Hannity, or maybe Jeanine Pirro. The Cable Gamer suspects Donald Trump would approve! Just as Hillary welcomes the choice of Rachel Maddow to pitch softballs. And that choice was handed to her—no threats to boycott the debate required.
This space has wondered how Brian Williams would fit in at MSNBC. With meticulous journalist Maddow bestowing her blessing on him (“What’s past is past.”) it appears he’s amenable to treating radio talk show hosts as if they were actual reporters. The paychecks will keep coming, he can take weekends off, and as long as the industry press remains clueless (or looks the other way) he can get used to leaning forward. It gets easier every day.