MSNBC to air one-hour special tonight at 11 p.m. on ... Christie's Bridgegate scandal

Has MSNBC done something like this before? I’m asking earnestly. The only “special” I remember is Chris Matthews’s attack on the tea party, but of course I’d remember that one. Could be they’re doing special programming like this on, say, the NSA every other week and I’ve missed it because I haven’t watched in, oh, six or seven years. Even so, I’d be curious to see a list of other news topics that have been deemed so monumental that they warrant disrupting the schedule on a weeknight to cover. I know Fox News sets aside an hour for a particular topic from time to time too, but that usually involves a scandal implicating the White House where there’s a body count (Benghazi, Fast & Furious, etc). I don’t remember an hour devoted to taking down a national up-and-comer from the other party before he’s announced his presidential candidacy over a local scandal that he hasn’t been directly implicated in and that few people from either party seem concerned about.

But like I say, I don’t keep track day to day.

There are many questions swirling around about the ever-deepening Bridgegate scandal, and for the media, one such question is “how much is too much?”

The answer to that depends partially on who you ask, and partially on how this story evolves, but MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes has provided its answer by lining up a special hour, Monday night, devoted to Christie and the reporting surrounding the scandal.

All In host Chris Hayes‘ colleague Rachel Maddow was an early adopter of the Bridgegate story, but Hayes’ show has also followed the developments since before the rest of the world caught up last week, and has also tracked the Hurricane Sandy relief effort in New Jersey, now a source of speculation as other New Jersey mayors let the latest revelations marinate.

This is the sort of thing I was thinking of this morning in the Rove post about Christie re-positioning himself as a victim of lefty media in order to win conservatives back. We’re nowhere near that point yet — the Bridgegate thing is still too new to conclude that he’s the hapless innocent exploited by jerky staffers and liberals bored with a slow news cycle — but at some point the sheer volume of concern-trolling from the left to try to destroy the guy on the launchpad before he runs for president will draw a backlash. In MSNBC’s defense, though, this is a rational business decision for them: While Democrats nationally don’t care much about Christie’s troubles, engaged liberals of the sort who watch this network handed Rachel Maddow a rare victory in the demo last week over Megyn Kelly at 9 p.m. They may not care about a Democratic president letting national parks be closed off needlessly to punish the GOP during the shutdown but they care a lot about a Republican governor who might very well threaten Hillary in 2016 letting bridge lanes be closed off needlessly to punish an opponent of his own. Why wouldn’t MSNBC want to seize the opportunity in viewer interest to get Hayes, one of their own up and comers, some extra airtime?

I’m tempted to say that devoting special programming to hitting a prospective election opponent is a symptom of MSNBC’s unique negativity, but I don’t know. Maybe this is just where partisan cable news is headed and soon Fox will be preempting the re-airing of O’Reilly to run three-hour explorations of Brian Schweitzer’s “dark money” trail — just in case you-know-who doesn’t run. Speaking of which, whether you watch Hayes or not, you should probably watch this: