Cable news analysis hit another low when Donny Deutsch, an advertising and branding executive who for years had his own CNBC show and was recently hired by MSNBC to host a weekly political talk show, said of Elizabeth Warren, whom he has predicted will lose 48 states should she become the nominee: “I think she’s delightful, I think she’s wonderful, I’m a big fan, I just don’t think she has what it takes to beat this president the same way … an idealized version of Joe Biden [does].” When challenged by MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, Deutsch got defensive: “I am understanding Donald Trump, the way he connects with this country, and the strength he exudes. We need to exude a stronger strength.” Deutsch exuded his own stronger strength by affirming that he is “a guy who’s done this for 30 years and watched human behavior.”
In this, if nothing else, Deutsch was correct: He has been doling out weird gender essentialism for eons. In his 2005 book Often Wrong, Never in Doubt, Deutsch wrote, “I cannot remember a time in my career when I was not having either a flirtation with a woman in the office, or a friendship, a fantasy, or all of the above. I am at my best when women are there to energize and excite me.” More recently, he told Nicolle Wallace of Joe Biden: “I love him onstage next to Trump. I love his height. I love that he threatened to get into a fistfight with Trump.” Back in 2008, Deutsch loved vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a different way, as a “new feminist ideal:” “I want her watching my kids … I want her laying in bed next to me,” Deutsch said at the time, arguing that “women want to be her, men want to mate with her.”
The problem here is not simply that Matthews and Deutsch still have their high-paid media jobs, despite lengthy records of mediocre analysis, grotesque speech about women, and relative cluelessness about race. It’s that their jobs are crucial to how the story of the presidential race will be told to the millions of people who watch them.