Can MSNBC survive Joy-Ann Reid?

Cable news network MSNBC may want to take yet another look at their staffing policies this week if they hope to calm the media bias waters during the final stretch of the presidential election. An opinion piece popped up at the Daily Beast this week with the liberal loving title, “Can President Hillary Survive the Media’s Fake Scandals?” Given the ongoing ideological wars in the nation and the general tone coming from the brainchild of Tina Brown, that’s nothing unusual. The overriding attempt at defending Hillary Clinton on the Left has been to pretend that her many scandals and dubious actions are all some media supported fantasy of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. (Even when they appear in the New York Times or the Washington Post.) The overriding message has always been, nothing to see here. Can’t we just move on? What makes this one slightly more unusual, however, is that the byline is that of Joy-Ann Reid.

After expending five long paragraphs detailing Hillary Clinton’s history as a valiant, bold, but beleaguered figure who has never been treated fairly by the press, Reid weighs in on the latest round of email scandals with a firm dismissal of the idea that anything untoward could be going on.

Consider the latest faux outrage, over Clinton Foundation donors supposedly getting untoward access to the then-Secretary of State. The AP “scoop” on the matter is a movable feast of innuendo, but it contains nothing that even hints at an actual exchange of favors from the Secretary of State in exchange for charitable donations. There is nothing in the story that suggests that emails requesting a meeting were met with demands for cash; for supplying some 11 million people around the world with AIDS medication, or for rebuilding Haiti or for the microloans to African women, which are some of the things the Clinton Foundation actually does, and does quite well. There’s also nothing in the story that suggests that being a Foundation donor was the only way someone could get a meeting with the Secretary; given that it found fewer than 90 such meetings out of 1,700 known to have taken place at State during her tenure.

But that hardly matters. In the new Beltway math, which presumes the Clintons always do just enough to stay ahead of the law, but not enough to quite be ethical, the mere act of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin responding to an email connotes potential corruption, or the more careful version: the “appearance of conflict.”

The various scare quotes and dripping sarcasm in that excerpt are pretty much all you need to know from the piece. It’s the usual attempt to write off any questions about Hillary Clinton. This is all a conspiracy cooked up by her enemies. Move along.

In case you can’t dredge the author’s name up off the top of your head, Reid was previously the host of The Reid Report, airing weekday afternoons on MSNBC. That was cancelled last year (along with a number of other offerings) for losing in the ratings to reruns old Roland Martin fishing shows and reaching less of an audience than she could have manged by shouting out of her office window. Reid is still employed as a news anchor on the network, though. She’s currently the host of AM Joy on weekend mornings, so we’re not talking about the network’s evening lineup of “opinion journalists” such as Maddow or Chris Hayes. This is when the network is ostensibly covering and delivering the actual news of the day, a job which Phil Griffin recently promised would be taken more seriously on their airwaves. When the big staff shakeups began last year, company insiders assured everyone that Griffin was demanding, “more news and less bombast.”

And yet here we have one of his weekend anchors attaching her name to a piece which, in the very title, labels one of the biggest stories of the election as “fake” and describes the reaction to recent revelations as “faux outrage.” At this point, why would anyone tuning in to their weekend coverage of the story expect to hear any sort of unvarnished coverage? It’s not as if the network doesn’t already have image problems, particularly since they’ve been saddled with Brian Williams after his ouster at the main NBC offices. It’s time for Phil Griffin to fish or cut bait in terms of Reid if he expects to have MSNBC taken seriously as a news outlet and not simply an extension of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign offices.