MSNBC now has a script editor
posted at 1:13 pm on January 6, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
You mean they didn’t have one before? NRO’s Eliana Johnson argues that the hard-left cable channel has had a de facto managing editor, one who apparently has little regard for reality — at least in terms of its conflict with her ideology:
MSNBC, the left-leaning cable-news network, has settled on one solution to its recent problems. It now has an executive reviewing scripts before they go on the air. The role, which has fallen to Rich Stockwell, a former executive producer of The Ed Show and Countdown with Keith Olbermann who now oversees special projects at the network, was created as several of the network’s hosts have, to the embarrassment of network brass, conducted a master class in political incorrectness. In recent months, Alec Baldwin, Martin Bashir, and, most recently, Melissa Harris-Perry have awkwardly crashed into the trinity of sexual orientation, gender, and race, leading many to wonder if there are any adults in charge at MSNBC.
There is one such adult, actually, and her name is Rachel Maddow. Though she provides the network’s ideological vision — MSNBC president Phil Griffin has called her “our quarterback” — she’s neither an executive nor a manager. Griffin, who wears both hats, is, from all appearances, letting the inmates run the asylum. …
Maddow appeared regularly on Carlson’s show and began substituting for former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. Then she got her own show in the summer of 2008, when Griffin decided to make the network, which had once employed conservatives such as Carlson, Pat Buchanan, and Michael Savage, a refuge for liberals and an answer to Fox News. It was a business calculation, not an ideological move.
Maddow, by contrast, is motivated by ideology. “If you debate for a living, you’re going to lose sometimes. Sometimes your preconceptions are wrong — that has never happened to her one time,” says a former colleague. “She is actually not that interested in reality; she is the most ideological person I’ve ever met. That is not somebody you want in charge of your programming, because she might put on a great show, but she cannot make rational decisions — her agenda is changing America. . . . She really thinks she is changing America for the better. You can’t have somebody like that in charge of your programming.”
It’s worth pointing out that the script executive probably would have had no effect on some of the more controversial segments over the last few weeks. Someone with a lick of common sense would have put a leash on Martin Bashir, for instance, or on Joy Reid’s slam at Sarah Palin for having a Christmas tree. The Melissa Harris-Perry segment was not scripted, though; panel discussions are spontaneous, and any agreement on how to handle a topic in the show prep wouldn’t end up on Stockwell’s desk. And Alec Baldwin’s offense didn’t even occur on air.
This will only limit the damage, not fix all of the reasons why the channel keeps embarrassing itself. That won’t change until the personnel changes, and that’s going to be Phil Griffin’s call — or Comcast’s — eventually. On that note, John Podhoretz wonders when Griffin might start exerting some control over his division:
Ever notice that people at MSNBC are forever giving interviews suggesting their boss, Phil Griffin, is an idiot?
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) January 6, 2014
I’ve met Griffin and I think Eliana is on target in her piece — as long as he makes money and builds a devoted following, I think Griffin couldn’t care less about what people say about him.