September 23, 2011
By Sinclair Soul
The Morning Joe show on MSNBC started this morning with a strategically edited clip of Michelle Bachmann, in which she stated that money earned belongs to the individual and not the government. Apparently, for no other reason than to have an adolescent snark-fest and in an effort to portray Bachmann’s view to be that she believes absolutely no money should go to the government from taxpayers, they completely omitted the following qualifying statement from their video footage:
Obviously, we have to give money back to the government so that we can run the government, but we have to have a completely different mindset…
(Check out the complete debate transcript for yourself)
The panel then each took their turn at levying pot-shots against Bachmann on how unreasonable this intentionally false proposition is. Later, the all-male panel revisited a story from earlier in the week where Bachmann made a photo-op in a meat locker, giving the cast chance to engage in the misogyny which seems to be the favorite pastime on the left these days (although, in fairness, the cast spent even more time belittling Rick Perry). It appears that the last remaining show worth watching on MSNBC has surrendered any pretense of integrity, in order to fall in line with the network’s leftist, propagandist, “lean forward” agenda.
I’ve enjoyed watching Morning Joe because it has a lot of political debate, sometimes interesting political debate, in contrast to the mountains of “fluff” on other morning shows. It had been the only show on the network that I could still stomach, as all others have abandoned any sort of legitimate debate or pretense of objectivity in order to feed a constant stream of focus-group tested leftist spin. I’ve even learned to tolerate the show’s hosts as they frequently inject gratuitous remarks in an apparent attempt to add a “John Stewart” element to the show. This rarely works and it frustrates the hell out of serious viewers like myself not just because it wastes time, but equally because Joe is no comedian. But this is also a symptom of Scarborough’s new approach where he seems to be trying to strike a balance between legitimacy and phoniness.
I’ve been following politics for a few decades now and remember Scarborough as a young congressman from Florida, who arrived with the Republican wave in 1994. He always seemed a reasonable politician – conservative, but independent on some issues. Soon he was a regular guest on many cable pundit shows and soon after he resigned from congress in 2001, he got his own late-night show, Scarborough Country on MSNBC (this was still in the days when that network actually tried to have balance in its lineup). Scarborough was still at the unapologetically conservative, famously confronting Keith Olbermann on air during the network’s coverage of the 2004 election (Olbermann never allowed dissenting voices on his own show). A few years later Scarborough was the beneficiary of an off-handed (and, ironically, misogynistic) comment by Don Imus, which got him fired from his morning slot on MSNBC and paved the way for the new Morning Joe show.
The show has been a great success, if not for its content but for its marketing appeal. It takes place on visually stunning set, uses classic rock bumper music along with professional, posed photos of Joe and co-host Mika Brzezinski, and the branding of the term “Morning Joe” itself as a line of Starbuck’s coffee. That being said, the show still ranks third behind FOX and CNN in morning cable shows (then again, EVERY show on MSNBC comes in third), But it does get vastly more viewers than the Imus show got at its peak, And Joe has certainly cashed in, not just in the afore-mentioned marketing, but just this morning he bragged about the hundreds of speaking engagements that he and Mika had been on over the past year. You can almost hear the cash registers ringing.
All this would be just fine and dandy if it weren’t for the incredible injection of phoniness which Scarborough systematically puts into his arguments. On any given day there is even money that you’ll get a legitimate, heart-felt argument from the host or a pathetic, staged talking point – and it so clear for any intelligent observer to dissect which is which. With his legitimate arguments, Joe can be brilliant and he may cross any political boundary and slay any “sacred cow” save one, the network’s promotion of the Obama administration. Then there are these other cheap, snarky juvenile arguments that seem so scripted that they’re pathetic and painful to watch, where Joe seems like nothing more than a lackey and a sellout. The strategy here is also transparent – Joe can claim how he tells it like it is from all sides, but this doesn’t fly upon further examination.
A perfect example of this also comes from this morning’s show. Before today, there was apparently no mention of the Solyndra scandal, which has been ever-building over the past few weeks. In a discussion that lasted about three minutes at the most, Scarborough acted dumbfounded about this “Solyndra issue” that Republicans keep bringing up (as if anyone who is engaged in politics is still unaware of the basics of this story). He then set up panel Democrat Harold Ford with the softball, cliched question; “Is there any there, there?” Not surprisingly, “of course not”, was the conclusion – end of story (I mean, just because the administration had shoveled a half billion dollars to a company in which a big donor had a vested financial interest and that half billion virtually evaporated in little over a year doesn’t mean there is any actual “there, there”).
And that’s that. Joe can now officially claim that his show covered this scandal, which at the least is very embarrassing to the Obama administration, when they really didn’t. The talking point is forged, the issue thoroughly explored, and conclusion made. Now they can move on and get back to Michelle Bachmann in the meat locker.
Sinclair Soul is a championship-level background singer and now political columnist for BigBlueBullfrog.com. His column, “The Soul of the Nation” thoroughly examines the state of American politics and culture from a Soul perspective.