Archive for cable news shows

Dep't. of Gaa! Annoyingly overused phrases in TV news

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The so-called "news" media (Hey, remember real news?) can get under one's skin on so many levels. Today, let's just concentrate on their delivery and vocabulary, because one can only take so much pet peevage in one sitting.  Journalists overuse several terms and phrases the way John Boehner overuses tanning beds and taverns. The way Republicans overuse Voter I.D. laws. The way Sunday talk shows overuse John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The way the GOP overuses the filibuster. The way Ferguson cops overuse tear gas. The way Sarah Palin overuses "You betcha!" "also, too," and Facebook.

Below are a few of the annoying phrases that cable news hosts, contributors, and guests insist on using over and over and over again, ad nauseam. And these are just off the top of my head.

And don't even get me started on the weirdly unnatural, singsong delivery and pauses used by most correspondents' in their "packaged" (pre-taped) segments. Or the inability of many hosts to read off their teleprompters. Or the way MSNBC guests and contributors are forced to clasp their hands in front of them like kindergarteners. Or the Oh, come on now! grammatical errors made by seasoned anchors, underscored by the You gotta be kidding me! spelling errors on the news crawl. Or the forced palsy-walsitude and effusive praise among cliquey hosts. Can you imagine Walter Cronkite doing any of that?

heavy sigh

Rant over.

Here's a partial list of news biz clichés. Some are irritating because they are meaningless. Some are unbearably stale. Some are painfully trite and/or cloying. Others simply make no sense. And all make me wonder why so many intelligent newscasters and editors rely on such hackneyed and/or poor verbiage. You are invited to pile on in Comments:

  • Take a listen
  • At the end of the day
  • The whole nine yards
  • All politics is local
  • A tempest in a teapot
  • Some say...
  • Game changer
  • Went missing
  • In the days and weeks to come (weeks and months, months and years)...
  • Thank you, my friend
  • On the ground
  • At this point in time
  • Folks
  • I just got off the phone with...
  • Journey
  • Journey
  • Did I mention journey?
  • We need to have a conversation
  • The homeland
  • That being said...
  • We'll leave it there

We'll leave it there.

For a satirical look at MSNBC hosts and their banter, link over to my Preen forward #OhButIKid post of a few months ago.

Now that I've gotten all that out of my system, can we move on to the most annoyingly overused commercials on TV?


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Shape up, MSNBC

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MSNBC and I are old friends. Many Team MSNBCers and I follow each other on the Twitter Machine, and I spend more time watching MSNBC than just about any other channel or cable news outlet on the Tee Vee Machine. I pretty much have to, because getting my televised news [sic] elsewhere is too frustrating. I always had such high hopes for them. But now, some of the weekday daytime shows are becoming so hard to watch that I find myself muting the sound or just turning off my TV.

Not that there isn't a lot to like about MSNBC, but since Comcast took over (coincidence?), much of what I see drives me to stabbing myself in the eye with a sharp remote, banging my head on the nearest wall, or simply screaming at my poor Samsung.

The more trivial issues involve typos. They really need an editor to edit the editors. Whoever writes the MSNBC ticker that crawls across our screens, along with their chyron-master, needs stronger glasses. Or a better education. Anyone else catch all the spelling errors and typos? "Eric Holders"? Really?

And speaking of the news crawl, why oh why did they go back to starting it at "Top Stories" after every interruption, both commercial and within a segment itself? For awhile it picked up where it left off, but no longer. Just as we get to "Politics" or "Health," back it goes to "Top Stories," mid-headline. How many times do we need to see the same five "Top Stories"? And don't get me started on those alarmist headlines that are maddeningly vague, suggesting without any specifics that there is some killer virus or new war that will imminently affect us all. A few more words of explanation would serve everyone well.

But the more serious problems involve reporting. The other morning on one show, an immigration expert was reporting that the number of Central American migrants arriving here had slowed noticeably. Not an hour later, in the next show, Luke Russert came right out and stated that there was no abatement at all in the number being met at the border. They were pouring in at the same rate as ever, he said. But today, again, it was reported that the numbers had dropped.

If MSNBC can't keep their own reporting straight, if the information reaching their viewers is that inconsistent, then their credibility suffers. And if their credibility suffers, then so does that of liberals, because MSNBC has the reputation-- deserved or not-- of being a liberal network.

Which brings me to their programming (I won't get into that whole forcing me to "go to prison" thing). I DVR their prime time shows religiously. But daytime leaves something to be desired (weekend mornings excepted). Luckily, Morning Joe is on too early for us West Coasters, but some of Andrea Mitchell's interviews/guests make me wish that show was on too early for us, too. While Mitchell is a respected and informative news veteran and manages to break news that's worth breaking, her show tends to feature the same old Beltway types with the same old Obama and/or Dem policy critics and the same old faulty speculation that have frequently misled viewers for years.

Not to say Mitchell also hasn't stood up for some progressive causes, but generally, I want to bathe after listening to all too many of her interviews with the same ol' same ol' DC journalists.

And don't even get me started on Ronan Farrow. With all due respect, Mr. F, you may be very smart, and for all I know you may be very nice, but you're d-u-l-l. I couldn't even tell you whether he's on the same page as us lefties, because I can't make it through the first two minutes of his show.

Since I know I'll be hearing from my anti-Tweety pals, allow me a few words about Chris Matthews, and then I'll shut up about the shows, because this post is becoming endless (if you want a snarkier take on MSNBC, please read MSNBC: Preen forward #OhButIKid). I actually admire Matthews, his grasp of history, and all that experience and historical perspective he brings to the show. But I prefer watching him on "Real Time with Bill Maher" where he's more lay-back, cracks up a lot, engages with humor, enjoys himself, all with his own special Tweety stamp. Yes, I realize he's a only a guest and it's a comedy show. On his daily show, I enjoy his "Let Me Finish" rants, where his more liberal side most often makes an appearance. He can be kind of a hoot. But he can also drive a lot of us a little crazy. 'Nuff said.

My point, if there is one, is: If MSNBC would truly commit to being a truly liberal cable news channel, then it would not only be the only one around, it would also be more consistent and less infuriating to an audience who expects it to be destination viewing for progressives . Lean forward, MSNBC, not backward. And wake up your editors.

Note: Edited.

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MSNBC: Preen forward #OhButIKid

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Oh, but I kid MSNBC. I watch it every single day, and despite it being the only major cable news outlet I can tolerate (or appreciate), there are a few observations that I can no longer keep to myself. Gotta vent. Here's my (satirical) take on MSNBC daytime:

MSNBC Host 1: So welcome to my very own show. So, today's guests are Goldie Taylor, Howard Fineman, David Corn, Joan Walsh, Michael Steele, Jonathan Alter, Michael Eric Dyson, Nicolle Wallace, Mark Halperin, Michael Isikoff, Jonathan Capehart, Kasie Hunt, Eugene Robinson, Ezra Klein, Dave Weigel, Steve Schmidt, and all my fellow MSNBC hosts who are all here to talk about their very own shows! Every single one of them. So have I told you guys what a great job you do? GOD you're good. You all excel at your jobs! To call you stellar doesn't do you justice! I'm so proud to call you "colleagues."

Chuck Todd, Steve Kornacki, Alex Wagner, Chris Hayes, Joy Reid, Ronan Farrow, Krystal Ball, Karen Finney, Melissa Harris-Perry, Ari Melber: So, thank you, my friend! So, congratulations to us! So, group hug to Camera Three!

MSNBC Host 2: So when we return, we'll explore why every MSNBC commentator begins each thought with, "So..." We'll be back in 15 minutes after these messages from Cialis, Cymbalta, Lipitor, Abilify, Celebrex, Humira, Nasonex, and Lyrica.

Chuck Todd, Steve Kornacki, Alex Wagner, Chris Hayes, Joy Reid, Ronan Farrow, Krystal Ball, Karen Finney, Melissa Harris-Perry, Ari Melber: So you forgot AT&T, BP, Exxon, Citibank, catheters, vaginal dryness meds, and Christian Mingle!

One hour later...

MSNBC Host 2: So here to help us make some sense of our top story is the host of [insert any MSNBC daytime show here]. Thanks for being here, Other Host.

Other MSNBC Host: So I'm honored, my friend. You are awesome.

MSNBC Host 2: So no, YOU are, my friend.

Other MSNBC Host: No, YOU! So.

Luke Russert: Um, hello? So did somebody forget to intro Tim Russert's trying-to-fill-his-father's-big-shoes son over here on the monitor? So I've got an exclusive I'm dying to break right here on your very own show, MSNBC Host 2!

MSNBC Host 2: So we could never forget YOU, Luke, my friend, my brother. What's your scoop? You always have the BEST scoops! GOD you're good.

Luke: So, so are you. You are a FABULOUS host, as are you, Other MSNBC Host. You two are superb at everything you do. Nobody does it better. So I'm in tears. Seriously. So how cool is it that we're all such good friends? So who knew being this incestuous could pay so well?

MSNBC Host 2: So tell us your scoop, Amazingly Adept Luke, my brother, my friend, MSNBC's own Sage of Washington DC, Our Capitol Hill Crusader! So don't you just love these obvious displays of public camaraderie? It's like our own private little club! So whatcha got, my friend?

Luke: Well crap. I forgot.

MSNBC Host 2: So we'll be back right after these words from Cialis, Cymbalta, Lipitor, Abilify, Celebrex, Axiron, Humira, Nasonex, Lyrica,  AT&T, BP, Exxon, Citibank, catheters, vaginal dryness meds, Febreze, Aleve, Verizon, Samsung, Cliffside Malibu Rehab Center, Christian Mingle, GE, financial groups you've never heard of, and endless promos of other MSNBC programming and the new MSNBC website!

One hour later...

MSNBC Host 3: So now for more repetitive analysis, welcome back to the hosts of all of our other fantastic shows. You all do such great work. Nobody does it better than you, my friends. GREAT reporting! You all look GREAT! Our audiences should be tuning into each of your shows every single day and night, no matter what effect that much exposure to redundant political infotainment has on their personal relationships!

Chuck Todd, Steve Kornacki, Alex Wagner, Chris Hayes, Joy Reid, Ronan Farrow, Krystal Ball, Karen Finney, Melissa Harris-Perry, Ari Melber: So Rachel has a very special Special coming up! Let's plug it! Over and over and over again!

MSNBC Host 3: I was just about to. But first, may I just say, you guys really set a high bar for journalistic standards. GREAT reporting, guys! But now it's time for the Tweet of the Day from Chris Matthews, MSNBC's very own god. But first: So when is Ezra Klein getting his own show already? He may put us to sleep in seconds, but he does such incredibly GREAT work! GREAT reporting! What a find! Am I right, my friends? Hey Farrow, stop giggling. So I'll get your responses to this and more on the other side of the commercial break. We have a new sponsor: ZzzKlein, er, Quil.

Fade out.

(Laffy Note: I didn't forget to include Lawrence O'Donnell, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, or Rachel Maddow in the Long Host List. While they do pop in on election nights or to promote a special or a book occasionally, they rarely guest on other shows as commentators/panel members.)

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Workers push to join unions becomes big headache for MSNBC, liberal hosts

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I often hear from indignant or disappointed Twitter followers that the progressive MSNBC political show hosts don't go to bat for this or that cause, and have threatened to boycott the network if their favorites let them down. I understand the frustration, but unfortunately, demands like those are not always realistic.

What many don't realize is, at least in some cases, on-air personalities are unable to speak out for contractual reasons. "Breach of contract" is nothing to sneeze at. For example, protesting on MSNBC air time or threatening to walk out on their jobs because of Martin Bashir's departure was very likely not an option. They'd get their asses sued faster than Megyn Kelly can say "Santa Claus is white."

However, perhaps publicly backing workers who want to join unions is different, and the AFL-CIO is all over them about that. I'm no legal expert, so I have no idea if this particular action would be contractually kosher or not.

Via The Hill:

The AFL-CIO is calling upon liberal MSNBC hosts to meet with workers at the cable network who are trying to unionize.

In a letter sent to Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Rev. Al Sharpton, Chris Hayes and Lawrence O’Donnell, the nation’s largest labor federation said the television personalities should speak out in support of workers at Peacock Productions, who produce programming for MSNBC.

Workers at Peacock have complained about their access to health insurance, low pay, long hours and job insecurity, according to the AFL-CIO letter. [...]

The union drive has become a headache for MSNBC. The liberal-leaning network covered the battle between unions and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) over collective bargaining. But the network hosts have been silent regarding the Peacock workers who are fighting their employer.

"All In" host Chris Hayes has already secretly met with workers, per Salon.

Ed Schultz has been a strong and consistent supporter of labor unions on his show. He regularly travels to GOP-run, union-busting states and brought us live reporting that is sorely missing elsewhere in the "news" media. And according to Salon, he has pushed back against criticism that he has not stood by workers.

As Rachel likes to say, "Watch this space."

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