Friday, November 20, 2015

Oh YES! This says exactly what I think about Chris Mathews and MSNBC these days!

I have never been able to stand Chris Mathews, a loud-mouthed boor who should have been shown the door years ago.  MSNBC has made colossal mistakes in whom they choose to keep and whom to lose.  They fired Phil Donahue and Keith Olbermann and have kept on Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell (who, for whatever reason--possibly medical--cannot speak straight, gets lost and entangled in her words and at times just zones out all together. She seems dithery and out of sync most of the time.  Her nervous jitters make me feel sympathy for her at the same time I am wanting to shout, "Give her the hook and drag her offstage!")

I agree with the author of this piece that Rachel Maddow was a good addition to the lineup.  She was brought onto MSNBC by her then good friend Keith Olbermann's urging -- but she stayed out of the fray when Olbermann and the management went head-to-head.  Olbermann lost.  They kept Mathews and fired him--a great loss since Olbermann spoke truth to power (which was what led to his demise).  BUT lately, I have noticed Rachel's reiteration of the same words over and over, as if she were speaking to children, hammering the points into our heads.  She brings up good points and important news that others are missing or ignoring, so I continue to watch her.  But if there were a good news alternative, I would be switching stations when she is on.  Best of all of them, in my opinion, is Lawrence O'Donnell. 

I am wondering what kind of power Chris Mathews holds over the powers-that-be at MSNBC. WHY do they keep him on?  I turn off the TV whenever he comes on and can't stand when he does the post-debate narrations and interviews.  In my estimation, he and Wolf Blitzer at CNN are both obnoxious, so (now that Jon Stewart is no longer giving the real news on the Daily Show...sob) that doesn't leave me anywhere to turn except Fox, which is concretized in the Bubble World view of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes...UGH! 

If we weren't in such dire straits in the world today, just watching that Faux network would be amusingly entertaining, with its dolled-up eye candy chicks with long hair, short skirts, crossed legs (showing lots of thigh) and 4-inch heels giving you the latest Bubble noise -- and the bleating nonsense that spews from the mouths of such as Sean Hannity (double UGH) and Bill O'Reilly (YUK).  It's so ridiculously/hilariously absurd, you have to laugh even if you want to cry when you think of all the clueless people tuned in who think Fox is really giving them "fair and balanced" information.  Fox is so far over the line, watching it is like viewing a satire done on SNL or reading a piece in Mad Magazine or The Onion.

Enough said.  Jaime O'Neill is becoming my favorite is his acutely perceptive take on MSNBC: 

Chris Mathews, My MSNBC Problem, and Yours
by Jaime O'Neill | November 20, 2015 - 9:51am

Because I'm a liberal, I spend a portion of most days watching MSNBC, though I've begun to dislike that cable channel with something akin to a passion. Still, I stick to it for Chris Hayes and Lawrence O'Donnell, though even those shows seem to have been saddled with more right wing opinionizers of late, sent there by the suits, no doubt, the management geniuses who think that if they include a little more opinion from editors at Reason Magazine, or former speechwriters for McCain or Romney, viewers will come flocking to their channel.

The suits at MSNBC also dumped Keith Olbermann (remember him?) a guy who was smarter and more incisive than most anyone they've brought on since. And they made a hash of their afternoon lineup, with more Chuck Todd, a guy few progressives or liberals ever hoped to see more often. He's the guy, you will recall, who so famously said it wasn't his job as a journalist to ask hard follow up questions of political candidates or newsmakers who'd just said something egregiously false. It was the viewers' job, apparently, to sort it all out, and it was just his job to let the pols say whatever they wanted before moving on to the next topic. If Chuck Todd were merely neutral, or non-partisan, that would be ok, but he shows a definite pattern of being a bit more belligerent with Democrats than with Republicans. I don't think that's just my bias, either, though it is clear that cleaning the bullshit out of an elephant stall is always going to be a bigger job than cleaning up after a jackass.

Chuck Todd, and the recycled news voice of Brian Williams would have been bad enough, but they also eliminated two shows by two of their brightest people—Joy Reid and Alex Wagner. Though those two women can be seen turning up on panels or on live feeds from news sites, their disappearances as talk show moderators for viewers interested in something more than a mere repetition of the day's liberal talking points represented a significant downturn in MSNBC's cred as a source of serious analysis from a lefty perspective.

The suits also seem to think that ratings will be better served if they have more talking heads who look as though they're about to celebrate their bar mitzah, or be passed on a year early out of middle school. Lots of those young "experts" are quite bright and articulate, of course, but it's hard to look authoritative on TV when your skin hasn't entirely cleared up yet, or your voice hasn't quite changed register.

But even if MSNBC didn't have a propensity for so transparently being rating whores, the fact would still remain that their judgment isn't any too good even on that rather craven score.

Beyond that, their lineup of "liberal voices" is beginning to seem reminiscent of the kinds of liberals Fox "News" used to offer when they were genuflecting in the direction of "fair and balanced," back when every school yard bully's favorite poster child, Allen Colmes, was the counter part to every school yard's favorite bully, Sean Hannity. More recently, Fox has included Bob Beckel as their house liberal, a guy who would never have been the choice of many liberals or progressives had they been asked to pick someone to voice their opinions in an environment so hostile to them.

Beyond all that, however, is just how tiresome people like Rachel Maddow and Chris Mathews have become. Rachel is on my team, and though she nearly always is spouting off on subjects I agree with her on, the nature of her spouting has grown to be unendurable. If she's writing her own copy, someone needs to edit it. She repeats every single fact or idea or place name or point at least three times, and usually more often, slightly rewording it each time, as though she's unsure of whether she's made it clear, or unsure of the ability of her audience to follow her thought. If someone is writing her copy for her, she needs to fire that person and hire a few writers who didn't cut class on the day the writing instructor was going over the subject of padding copy. Listening to Rachel reminds me of when I was writing papers as a lower division under graduate, padding out thin ideas by repeating them in slightly different words, ballooning a hundred word thought into a thousand word paper.

And even if she weren't so breathlessly verbose, her manner would still be off putting, the way she seems to be scolding her listeners, or talking to them as though they have been kept after school. She's gotten rather full of herself in ways that don't flatter her, and she's not at all like the young woman I first met on that channel, so bright, but so much less imbued with a palpable sense that she knew how bright she was.

Even worse than Rachel, however, is the increasingly insufferable Chris Mathews, a guy who is asserting his claim to be the rudest boor on television as he asks rambling and often incoherent questions of guests, then barely lets them get a word out before he interrupts,interjecting a repetition of one aspect of the "question" he's just asked, or asserting his own opinion, which is already contained in the question, once more. And though, like Rachel, he's sometimes said things quite well and even eloquently, making points I'm pleased for him to have made, just as often he's said really stupid shit, or perpetuated a media promoted narrative that turned out not to be true, or embarrassed me as a fellow member of the same gender with his adolescent view of how the world works, how much it is like a movie he saw or a song he heard. He's the guy, you'll recall, who got giddy when George W. Bush staged that landing on that aircraft carrier, then strolled across the deck in that flight suit before giving his horseshit "Mission Accomplished" speech. Chris Mathews, however, thought that was just about the neatest thing he'd ever seen, and it gave him the tingles. It was, he said, gushing like a school girl, a real macho and "very American" thing to do, and we Americans can never get enough of "that kind of stuff."

Gag me with a fuckin' spoon. That shameful moment of grandstanding by the village idiot we'd allowed to be in charge of stuff like invading the wrong country, and giving big tax breaks to his friends, and running the White House for the benefit of "defense" contractors, oil men, and hedge fund crooks was the perfect emblem of all that's wrong with this country, but it played well with Chris, alas. He likes a guy in uniform, even one who'd gone AWOL when he was supposed to be wearing one.

Then there's the tendency Chris Mathews has to get on a really silly hobby horse and ride that wooden horse into a lather. His little crusade to teach his listeners how we really should be pronouncing Dick Cheney's last name ("Cheeen-ey," says Chris, not "Chain-y" is notable in this regard, a tiresomely repeated trope, utterly irrelevant, not interesting, and an idea even Chris Mathews can't keep straight on his tongue or in his head. He sometimes pronounces the former VP's last name both ways in the same segment.

Beyond that, there's his inclination to write a book just about every year, usually a variation on his memories of having worked for Tip O'Neill back when, in his memory, politics was still a matter of having a few drinks between a couple of Micks at the end of the day, with Ronald Reagan and ol' Tip able to work together, with the help of young and adorable and o' so patriotic Chris Mathews. Once these books have been written, Mathews hypes them on his show until it becomes shameless and embarrassing, a hustle that makes Bill O'Reilly's book peddling on his show seem almost diffident and modest by comparison.

But I can forgive all this shit most of the time. However, this week, Chris Mathews mounted a new hobby horse, and watching him ride that ugly nag has pissed me off almost as much as Ted Cruz or Donald Trump pissed me off in the aftermath of the massacre in Paris.

For the last few days of the week, Mathews wanted to rail on the Syrian men who are fleeing their country, wanted to wonder why "Syrians won't fight," casting aspersons on them for their cowardice, comparing them to stalwart Americans who would never flee, but would stay no matter what and "fight for their country."

First off, that is so goddamned stupid that my jaw dropped each time he started on that subject. The Syrians ARE fighting for their country. That's why some of them are fleeing. It's not a fit place for their children anymore because so many Syrians are fighting for their country, all in different sects and sub-sects and tribes and bands and allegiances. Meanwhile, we are bombing various and sundry places where fleeing Syrians once lived, or providing arms to contending Syrians who stay to fight. And, if there's not enough fighting going on in Syria to satisfy Chris Mathews' sense of Syrian patriotism or courage, the Russians are bombing that country now, too, and of course the nation's leader, Assad, has been fighting for his country, too, willing to kill any number of his fellow Syrians out of his sense of love for his country.

But when Chris Mathews, a fuckin' liberal, excoriates and sneers at these poor men who are on the run with their families, guys who can't figure out which bunch of their fellow Syrians to hook up with, who put the love for their wives and children ahead of their love of lines drawn on a map to form a country, that fulminating and posturing being done by a TV talking head is just off-the-charts offensive. It puts the worst of Chris Mathews on display, the part of him that will, apparently, always be that 11-year-old boy he was in Philadelphia, back when the heroes were all square-jawed, strutting around in flight suits, or fearlessly blasting the bad guys out of their saddles.

Why, Chris opines, sagely, can't Syrian men be more like us stand-up American guys? Why won't they fight? What the hell is wrong with them? Do they need us to send them a whole bunch of John Wayne DVDs in order to teach them some backbone?

It's the kind of bullshit that makes liberals look as stupid as Tea Party morons, and I'm not sure any of us, no matter how damn dumb we can be, are really well served by that, especially when intelligence seems to be in such short supply everywhere you might care to look.