Tagged: Kornacki

The News with Brian Williams, Now With Extra Leaning!

maddowSunday morning, at the tail end of a Reliable Sources hour devoted to talking about Fox News and Donald Trump, Brian Stelter squeezed in an off-topic question to guest David Zurawik regarding MSNBC’s election coverage:

STELTER: One year ago yesterday, Brian Williams embellished a story about Iraq on “The Nightly News.” It was noticed. Then other questions were raised. He left the chair. And tomorrow he is anchoring Iowa caucus coverage on MSNBC. You have been highly critical of Brian Williams. So, I was just curious. Will you give him a chance one year later?

ZURAWIK: Brian, I will absolutely give him a chance…

The issue here was Williams’ history of lies. But nobody so much as raised an eyebrow about the fact that Williams has been assigned a minder, a co-anchor, and it ain’t an NBC News correspondent. Brian will be co-anchoring with erstwhile Air America talk show host, Rachel Maddow. This would be roughly equivalent Bret Baier dispensing with Chris Wallace, only to make Sean Hannity his co-anchor. But you know as well as we do that Roger Ailes would never pollute his coverage of breaking political news by saddling his superb journalists with partisan co-anchors.

panelAs we looked in at MSNBC’s preview show tonight, there was Maddow (who has her own checkered reportorial history) expounding and intro’ing program blocks on an equal footing with Williams. Cut to opinion host Steve Kornacki who’s now paraded as an impartial political expert. Cut to incisive observations from opinion host Lawrence O’Donnell with pal Gene Robinson (quite a panel). Cut to opinionizer Chris Hayes to talk about Sanders. Cut to our man on the scene, opinion host Chris “two Cuban guys” Matthews. MSNBC’s entire prime time line-up, plus Matthews and Kornacki, had their moment in the sun. The Cable Gamer could tell you what all those opinion hosts have in common, but she thinks you’ve already sussed that out.

Long story short, this is Lean Forward news—with Brian Williams propped up to present a facade of “journalism.” Tonight’s coverage had the same relentlessly leftist tone that’s made MSNBC the failure that it is. It seems unlikely that Brian Stelter will ever get around to addressing this fraud, as his cohort Dylan Byers has already bought into the scam hook, line and sinker.

But The Cable Gamer knows better, and so do you.


Who’s Really Trying to Control Editorial Content of Journalists? There’s No Debate About It…

The Cable Gamer watched some Thomas Roberts today, because somebody has to. She didn’t expect any surprises, and sure enough it was two hours of Lean Forward style news:

  • Analysis by Huffington Post‘s Howard Fineman (everything is going great for the Dems)
  • “Reporting” by ex-opinionizer, Salon scribe Steve Kornacki.
  • Political guest: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D).
  • “Reporting” by ex-Howard-Dean staffer Jacob Soboroff.
  • Insights from Chuck Todd (he’s a straight newsman, though that came after he worked to elect Tom Harkin, running for President to the left of Bill Clinton).
  • A clip from the big Lester Holt interview of Obama (we’re going to come back to this).
  • More Kornacki, chewing over a clip from Morning Joe‘s Koch interview.
  • Political guest: Steve Israel (D), to tell viewers that Republicans want to stop people from voting.

We hope you didn’t expect any pushback on that last one from Mr. Roberts. After all, he’s said the same thing himself! It hardly seems necessary to point out the lack of any conservative or Republican representation. That, after all, is how Lean Forward news works. But something in that Obama clip did spin the tumblers of The Cable Gamer’s mind.

The producers chose a soundbite where the President ridiculed the GOP complaints over the CNBC debate. Har har, they’re afraid of CNBC moderators! This echoes the meme that has been spreading among mainstream media voices that it’s outrageous, even “delusional,” for Republicans to push back on moderators, even ones as clumsy and incompetent as the CNBC hosts. Candidates shouldn’t be permitted to exert influence on questioning, graphics, moderators, or anything else. At least they shouldn’t when they’re Republicans.

Does anyone in the media have any institutional memory? Is it so hard to remember all the way back to 2007? That’s when the Democratic party went far beyond trying to influence the questioning or the choice of moderators. They completely cancelled a debate, because it was on Fox News. And Barack Obama was one of the angry villagers who demanded it be shut down. As is so often the case, the push to destroy the Fox Democratic debate was based on a shameless, thoroughly dishonest torrent of outright lies, capped by a fabrication about a Roger Ailes joke. (It poked fun at Bush, but was deliberately misrepresented as an insult to Mr. Obama in order to further the narrative.) And now here’s Rachel Maddow in 2015 going after the GOP because they’re “attacking the media,” as if that isn’t exactly what the Democrats did in 2007.

In fact, they’re still doing it. As Bret Baier has noted multiple times, Fox has repeatedly asked to host a Democratic primary debate but have been rebuffed at every turn. The Dems are exerting the ultimate control over the Fox News moderators—they’re not just nitpicking their questions but silencing them entirely by denying them the forum to ask anything. Yet we don’t see Ryan Lizza or James Warren writing lengthy pieces about the “outrageous, delusional” Democratic stonewalling of Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace. And Ms. Maddow has not expressed any of her uniquely clownish outrage.

Why do you suppose that is?


If MSNBC Is Trying to Be a “Nonpartisan News Channel,” This Is a Funny Way to Do It

korniThe Cable Gamer wanted to see how Kate Snow was handling her afternoon shift on MSNBC the other day, but had to wait until they finally gave discredited Brian Williams the hook for Ms. Snow to get some air time. Things started well but just ten minutes into the hour there it was. She introduced Steve Kornacki to report on fund-raising by GOP candidates, and he read the story as if he were a straight news reporter. In fact he was billed as an “MSNBC Political correspondent.” (The report focused on Jeb’s money troubles, so it was happily free of anything that might threaten the typical MSNBC viewer’s sympathies.)

Just a few months ago “correspondent” Kornacki was a prominent MSNBC opinion host. Having served in that capacity on The Cycle he was given his own weekend program (its producer hired from the DNC) while sub-hosting for Rachel Maddow (see screen grab). Kornacki has earned a reputation as a more “balanced” left-winger than some others at MSNBC, but hasn’t hesitated to play the race card when the President needed defending. Like other MSNBC “correspondents” he is best known for partisan polemics, not just at his home network but also at the relentlessly leftist Salon, where scores of Kornacki columns form an indelible ideological trail:

That last is in reference to the 2014 elections, when the GOP not only didn’t lose their majority but actually increased it, to the largest since 1928. It’s the sort of thing that people who really understand politics would never write, unless they were pandering to a partisan crowd too blinded by ideology to know when they were being scammed.

So here’s another opinion host transformed overnight into an MSNBC “correspondent.” And while media reporters obsess over an obscure print columnist who dared to purchase some Trump hats, they are silent about the coterie of partisan polemicists now being paraded as impartial journalists on the new MSNBC. Indeed, CNN’s Dylan Byers bought into the charade hook, line, and sinker:

Kornacki will host “MTP Daily” on Mondays… Kornacki will continue to fill-in for Chris Matthews on “Hardball” and appear across MSNBC programs throughout the week. The changes are part of MSNBC’s effort to shed its reputation as a liberal platform and rebrand as a nonpartisan news channel—at least in daytime.

Only in the most rarified of media elite circles can increased air time for a Salon proselytizer, rebranded as a “correspondent,” be seen as a way for a network to “shed its reputation as a liberal platform.” Sometimes The Cable Game is a strange game indeed.

Salon Thinks You’re Gullible So They Lie to You…And So Does MSNBC!

VLTh11P1_400x400The Cable Gamer has no idea why anyone would trust Salon for reportage from inside Fox News—it’s not like they have ever had even a semi-reliable source therein. And yet here’s Scott Eric Kaufman (remember that name, you may never hear it again) with some creative fiction about Fox and Megyn Kelly, headlining:

Megyn Kelly abruptly announces unplanned two-week vacation, effective immediately…

Kaufman goes on to note that “the timing of her unplanned absence is a touch curious,” and the string of comments by the chronically credulous confirm how difficult it is to underestimate Salon readers. Note that Kaufman has no source for his allegation that the vacation is unscheduled. In fact it’s been widely reported that the vacation was planned well ahead of time, from sources as diverse as the Los Angeles Times, TV Newser, and The Daily Beast. But Kaufman and his nonexistent source know better. Some would call this making it up, but in The Cable Game we have another term for it: lying.

As for the “abrupt” announcement, here’s an insight into how The Cable Game is played in the real world. Networks don’t often advertise to tell viewers ahead of time that Bill O’Reilly won’t be on this week. Because that makes viewers less likely to tune in. That sort of info, when it’s given at all, usually comes at the last minute.

What’s more, it’s August! The notion that this is a peculiar time for cable news anchors to take time off is ludicrous. Bill O’Reilly is off all week. Gretchen Carlson is off all week. Julie Banderas has been hop-skotching the channel filling in for other anchors who are taking time off this week. Because the end of August is a low-viewership period. When is Ms. Kelly supposed to take her vacation—after Labor Day, when viewers come home from vacation and the cable news audience is bigger? Salon‘s entire premise is ignorant at best, deceitful at worst, and in all likelihood both of the above.

But this sort of nonsense is all it takes for FNC’s competitors to leap into the fray, so on Hardball we find documented liar Joan Walsh repeating the fabricated meme:

WALSH: It kind of looks like Roger Ailes backed Trump in that battle, so she’s going on an unscheduled vacation.

There it is again, contrary to published reports, based on nothing whatsoever: the “unscheduled” vacation. Steve Kornacki, allegedly one of the brighter lights in the MSNBC leftist chandelier, didn’t question Walsh’s made-up assertion; he affirmed it! Not surprising, since MSNBC is shameless in spreading such claptrap. They treat their viewers like Salon regards its readers—as unquestioning rubes who will swallow whatever malarkey they throw at them.

By the way, why was Joan Walsh on Hardball spewing her fiction to Steve Kornacki? Oh, didn’t you know? Chris Matthews is off this week…on vacation!

Throwback Thursday: “CNN Debate Team Comes Up Lame.” Michael Buffer Could Do Better

Once the gold standard for all-news television, the Cable News Network used the night to make a convincing argument that it should never again be entrusted with a presidential debate.

That’s not a Rush Limbaugh monologue, above, that’s a verbatim quote from The New York Observer, not exactly a red-state publication.

Welcome to The Cable Game, Steve Kornacki! You seem to be mostly a political columnist for the Observer, but you have written a terrific piece on CNN’s handling of the Las Vegas debate last week that’s required reading for Cable Gamers.

In doing so, Kornacki went way beyond the nasty flap over the obvious unfairness of CNN inviting Clinton sidekicks James Carville and David Gergen to assess the debate, and got into the even more profound question of whether CNN was fair in the basic structuring of the debate itself.

michael_buffer2Kornacki expresses himself clearly, and he even uses pop-culture references that TCG heartily endorses, as when he compared Wolf Blitzer to Michael Buffer, the “let’s get ready to rumble guy” from pro wrestling. There’s nothing wrong with showmanship, of course, even in the news–so long as show values don’t trump solid journalism, especially when the White House is at stake.

Here’s some more from Kornacki’s brilliant piece, detailing how CNN brought pro wrestling ethics and values to presidential politics:

The network’s journalistic crimes are legion, starting with how the debate—which, at least in theory, is supposed to serve as a public service to voters—was promoted. In full-page ads, CNN cast it as pure sport, a boxing match in which “the gloves will come off.” Really? How would CNN know ahead of time that that this would be a contentious forum, especially after most of the previous debates had been tame, unless they were planning to force conflict? …

It got worse when it was time for the actual debate. First, CNN persisted with the prize-fighting motif, with moderator Wolf Blitzer playing the Michael Buffer role and calling the candidates to the stage individually, like boxers entering the ring. Then Mr. Blitzer introduced Campbell Brown, John Roberts, and Suzanne Malveaux, fellow CNN personalities who would join in the questioning.

“They are part of the very best political team,” he informed viewers.

As the candidates were fitted with their microphones—shouldn’t that have been done backstage?—Mr. Blitzer awkwardly handed off to analyst Gloria Borger, who stuck with the boxing imagery as she told viewers which candidates could be expected to come out “swinging” in the public policy forum they were about to watch.

If CNN was intent on giving America a fight, it could have at least tried to put on a fair one.

But the audience at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas was slanted heavily in favor of New York’s junior senator. One of the first questions of the night, from Mr. Blitzer, sought to incite a tangle between Barack Obama and Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton used her turn to criticize Mr. Obama’s health care plan, but when Mr. Obama began, loud shouts from the audience distracted him and viewers at home.

So pro-Clinton was the crowd that Mrs. Clinton needed only to pause for a beat during an answer and the audience would fill the vacuum with raucous cheers. Meanwhile, when Mr. Obama and John Edwards sought to engage Mrs. Clinton, they were shouted down.

Conspiracy theorists will say that CNN had packed the crowd for its old friend. But the audience imbalance, like the inclusion of Mr. Carville and Mr. Gergen, was more an indictment of CNN’s incompetence. The network farmed out the distribution of tickets without insisting on any kind of balance. The resulting Clinton rah-rahing was both distracting and misleading to viewers.

Similar incompetence was at work in the framing of questions. Time and again, candidates were presented with simplistic hypothetical scenarios and told to pick one side. They were invariably presented false choices—human rights or national security?—but if they failed to provide direct answers, they risked looking like typically evasive politicians.

And nothing but incompetence can explain why CNN decided to end on a “cute” question, prodding a UNLV student—who had hoped to quiz the candidates on the Yucca Mountain issue—to inquire if Mrs. Clinton preferred diamonds or pearls.

Knockout stuff.

TCG closing comment: At least in pro wrestling, you know what you’re getting–you’re getting a show, and nothing more. Now, maybe, people will know that, too, about CNN, thanks to Kornacki’s insightful play-by-play critique.

Reposted from The Cable Game, 21 November 2007

That Was the Week That Was

3787_200206693-001Back when MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts was announced, I went out on a limb to suggest that this wasn’t a move away from opinion at MSNBC. Rather, it was a new way to package opinion: by disguising it as a straight newscast. The seeds were planted on Monday, and they began to sprout on Tuesday. After a week of Thomas Roberts, I’d say the weeds are in full bloom. Let’s look at the rest of the week:

Wednesday: The big guest of the day was David Brock, who was given a largely follow-up-free soapbox to mislead viewers about Hillary Clinton’s emails. John Ridley appeared later to talk about the meaning of genius. And we got interviews with Ari Melber and Steve Kornacki, both part of the channel’s progressive opinion line-up. I missed parts of this show but the online segments don’t show any right-of-center opinion or analysis guests.

Thursday: A lot of breaking news and yet Roberts found a way to shoe-horn Ed Schultz in the stuck airplane coverage. Is he an aeronautics expert? Here’s a secret about how The Cable Game is played. When a guest has been booked, it’s a lot easier to put him on the air even when his segment has been cancelled than to find an actual expert. So Schultz, who was almost certainly intended to speak on some political issue, possibly the Hillary emails, instead feigned expertise on airplane matters. At least that way they can still plug his failing show. And how many viewers will realize that he was actually booked to inject progressive opinion into the non-opinion Thomas Roberts newscast?

Also on Thursday: MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald to opine on Hillary’s emails. He is a self-described “MSNBC political reporter,” a first-rate bit of camouflage. Alex’s pedigree in journalism includes writing for Salon and Think Progress, where he was one of the site’s editors. But at MSNBC, he’s just another reporter! See, they’re moving away from opinion.

Come Friday, and it’s more of the same. This time we get three MSNBC opinionizers: Chris Hayes, Steve Kornacki, and a return visit from aeronautics expert Ed Schultz. All from the left. Plus a representative of the Urban League (left). And then another “MSNBC reporter:” Michele Richinick, an anti-gun advocate masquerading as a journalist. Are you starting to see a pattern?

Unless there was someone I missed, in an entire week of MSNBC’s non-opinion newscast every commenter and/or analyst was someone from the left. No conservative or Republican viewpoints were represented. When that happens five days in a row, on premiere week no less, that’s not an accident. It’s their blueprint. Just like the Lean Forward slogan that still appears on the screen during MSNBC’s “non-opinion” news hours.

Opposite Thomas Roberts, Fox News managed to find time for two Democratic guests in just a single broadcast hour. That one hour on FNC had more opposing viewpoints than ten hours of Thomas Roberts. And Fox didn’t disguise their opinion guests by calling them “reporters.” Think about that the next time you hear the disingenuous Maddow or other MSNBC flacks deride Fox as a PR arm for a political party. Freud had a term for that.