Although the Clinton project underscores the conflict between the networks’ news and entertainment divisions, the public statements by Todd and Mitchell, who both appear on NBC and MSNBC, expose the divide between NBC News and the liberal-leaning cable network.
“It’s a bit rich for [Chuck] Todd and [Andrea] Mitchell to cry foul now about their journalistic purity being contaminated by commercial and ideological considerations,” says independent TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall. “As if the MSNBC lineup where Todd and Mitchell ply their trade every day is not shared with activist ideologues such as Al Sharpton and Ed Schultz.”
To that end, sources at NBC News say that it was not simply Republican ire that set the news division on edge. Rather, it was the specter of retaliation from the former first lady and secretary of state, who very well could be a leading 2016 presidential candidate. The Clintons’ penchant for grudges is legendary. And Hillary in 2008 threatened to boycott an MSNBC-sponsored debate over former anchor David Shuster’s comment that Chelsea Clinton had been “pimped out” for her mother’s campaign. Any scripted Clinton project almost certainly would include content objectionable to Bill and Hillary. “The Clintons are the ones to worry about,” says an NBC source. “Who needs those headaches?”
So NBC thinks Hillary will soon be President Hillary and that President Hillary and her cabinet won’t be quite as eager to talk with Brian Williams as she will the other network anchors. That’s the only scenario I can imagine where they’d have reason to worry about a Clintonian grudge. Note the standard here, though: Evidently any “content objectionable” to Billary, no matter how effusive the rest of it is about America’s need for a Strong Woman, is a risk in NBC’s hivemind of alienating the next White House. Are the Clintons really that sensitive, or is it more the case that — as I explained before — there’s really no such thing as a drama about Hillary that focuses more on highlights than on her perseverance through lowlights? And the source of most of those lowlights is, of course, the guy whom she’s counting on to be one of her chief weapons on the trail in 2016. “[W]hat exactly has she ever accomplished — beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband?” said Camille Paglia to Salon today. No matter how well Hillary comes off in the miniseries, her chief dramatic nemesis necessarily must be Bill, which makes for a … complicated campaign commercial for a second Clinton administration.
Riddle me this, though. Precisely how much Clinton ass does NBC have to kiss before they get to stop worrying about being cut off? There are big Democratic donors at Comcast who’ll doubtless kick in for her presidential bid; the news division hired Chelsea as a special correspondent even though she seems to have zero talent for “journalism” or whatever it is she was doing there; their cable news division is a motley crew of liberal hacks who’ll happily go face first into the tank for her once she’s the Democratic nominee, if not sooner. They’ve done, and will continue to do, yeoman’s work in promoting the Clintons and now they’re in a panic that a miniseries that’s only mostly incredibly flattering to her might destroy all of that goodwill? Good lord.