Green Room

MSNBC now has a script editor

posted at 1:13 pm on January 6, 2014 by

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:

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.

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Prohibited phrases include:

“This ObamaCare thing is really an execrable failure, isn’t it?”

“Hey, this suggestion from the Republicans isn’t so bad, after all.”

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orangemtl on January 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM

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.

Bull. The graphics department uploaded the picture for a 2013 Year in Review segment. If they weren’t going for the “Racist Mitt’s son adopted a black baby” angle, they wouldn’t have included it in the segment.

blammm on January 6, 2014 at 1:51 PM

That cess pool is an echo chamber. The current management would have signed off on both Martin’s rant and Mel’s segment choice. They live in snark.

Bensonofben on January 6, 2014 at 1:54 PM

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.

Designing a network to appeal to the tiniest minority possible would be the result of Jethro Bodine type “business calculatin’”.

whatcat on January 6, 2014 at 2:04 PM

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

Really, they pick the guy that was a producer for Special Ed and Bathtub Boy? He’s the new arbiter of good taste?

pain train on January 6, 2014 at 3:05 PM

The ship is going “blub-blub-blub” so any port in a storm I guess. From what I can tell they will be left with unattractive single female cat owners. I think Chrissy Matthews will survive since I think that “tingle” was actually caused by static on his Victoria S underwear (you gotta switch to cotton Chrissy).

teejk on January 6, 2014 at 6:27 PM

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

…pure comedy…that move!

KOOLAID2 on January 6, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Bathtub Boy’s executive producer? No wonder that public-access channel is such a farce. Comcast knows no shame. You can’t blame it on money, because Comcast is rolling in it. Either there is no parental guidance, or no one in charge wants to admit it. I’m betting on the latter.

Philly on January 6, 2014 at 9:27 PM

I don’t know why anyone cares.

Married With Children reruns at 4am have a bigger audience.

Moesart on January 7, 2014 at 12:08 AM

Hinderaker at Powerline has a great exposé of Maddow’s recent two nights of lies about the Koch brothers.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/01/rachel-maddow-is-crazy-too.php

As he points out, Maddow knows she can get away with lying because her audience is stupid.

juliesa on January 7, 2014 at 1:52 AM

MSNBC, the left-leaning cable-news network, has settled on one solution to its recent problems.

Recent? This has been going on for years. Shuster, Olbermann, Schultz, O’donnell–each has brought major embarrassment on their network, and don’t even get me started on that looney toons Matthews.

juliesa on January 7, 2014 at 2:01 AM