Like any family, the MSNBC family has its dysfunction, and that’s part of the charm. Chris Matthews currently has a marginally better hold on himself: he’s been letting the people he interviews talk without talking over them, which he does repeatedly, and often at length, until you wonder why this guest is even on the show if we are not going to be able to hear a word he or she is offering.
Can Rachel Maddow truly be as engaged, interested, intelligent, and considerate as she appears to be on air? If there is a serious broadcaster with a more engaging presence, I don’t know who it is. Watching her interviews is a joy.
Brian Williams, not so much. I didn’t watch him in his incarnation before the fall when he was put on leave for elaborating on dangerous and heroic things he never did. I struggle imagining him as the top-rated newscaster he supposedly was. He’s now part of the MSNBC family, and it’s not all smooth. Brian, get over yourself. I’m glad you still have a job, but quit with the condescending lean, the too-cool-for-school sideways smirk, and offer more enthusiasm than the large rock that sits in the woods in my backyard would. And the “uhs”? You’ve landed more in a minute than us broadcasters-in-training landed in our ten minute Agriculture Education presentations back in college (mine was on the benefits of yogurt, a campaign I generously designed for the American Milk Association) on our first time out! I want you to succeed. Learn how to interview, and practice speaking without a trillion “uhs.”
I could go on about the brilliance of Steve Kornacki, and how fun his enthusiasm is to watch, as he crunches and expounds on his numbers in his button-down shirt and crew-neck sweater. About what a dinner companion Chris Hayes would make, able to engage in fascinating conversation on almost any subject we could hit. And the perfect balance Chuck Todd brings to every show he’s a part of. But what spurred me to write about my adopted dysfunctional family on MSNBC was their broadcast of John Kasich’s victory speech on the evening he took Ohio, which gave us nuggets like this:
“And if you are a neighbor, that means the widow who was married for 50 years who no one calls anymore, you want to change the world? You take her to dinner on Saturday night. She’ll wear that dress she hadn’t worn in six months…
“You see what I learned as a boy…is that the spirit of America rests in us…
“Our spirit is in believing that through our efforts in whichever part of the world that we live that we can change the world, that we can carve out a better future, that we can realize that those special gifts that were given to each and every one of us in here are something we can use to heal the world.”
I know, in a way, this has nothing to do with MSNBC, but in a horrifying primary season where candidates have reached new ugly, ugly lows in disparaging each other as individuals and as groups, and then gone lower, MSNBC produced this shining moment with John Kasich. I am grateful.
John Kasich, thank you for being in the world; MSNBC, thank you for sharing him.