In April, 2013, Renee Shur wrote a wonderful piece in the Occasional Planet entitled, “Dear MSNBC: Grow up, already.” She truly nailed it with how the frequent supercilious and bombastic approach of its hosts undermined the communication of progressive news.
I have adopted Renee’s point of view and taken my own vacations from MSNBC. But when it came to the transgressions of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, I came back home to MSNBC because I knew that it was most equipped to dig into the story and deliver current, and often hidden, information on a daily basis. I was not disappointed with MSNBC, beginning with coverage of Christie’s lame press conference on January 9 and continuing to the present.
Most informative to me have been “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton,” “All In with Chris Hayes,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, and most particularly “Up with Steve Kornacki.” Each of the hosts seems to have toned down his or her shouting, and rather than being snarky they’ve been investigative. They have had live interviews with a series of New Jersey state officials as well as local journalists. Coming from Missouri, I was shocked at the intelligence, the knowledge-base and the critical thinking skills of these men and women.* Among the legislators and journalists who were interviewed and who filled in so many of the blanks in the story were:
- Barbara Buono, former NJ state senator and Christie opponent in 2013 gubernatorial race
- John Reitmeyer, State House Reporter for Bergen County Record
- Mark Sokolich, mayor of Ft. Lee
- John Wisniewski, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee
- Loretta Weinberg, State Senator whose district includes Ft. Lee
- Dawn Zimmer, mayor of Hoboken
This was quite a contrast to what I saw and heard in the mainstream press. For example, just before Christie was to deliver his “State of the State” address, CNN pundit Gloria Borger was asked what he (Christie) needed to do in his speech. She immediately said that he needed to regain the trust of the legislators as well as the people of New Jersey. What a pat and meaningless answer. What words can someone who has been an on-going liar say to convince an audience that he’s now telling the truth? Really there are none. If someone wants to regain trust, he or she must act in a trustworthy fashion – over an extended period of time. After former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned from the governorship, he spent several years below the radar, and in time gained new respect. Now, he is a leader of the progressive movement. In contrast, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned in disgrace, continued to engage in the type of behavior that forced his recognition, and then ran for mayor of the city of New York while all his transgression were still fresh in voters’ minds. He came in last in the field with single-digit support.
At this point, Christie has almost all of the Nixonian characteristics of someone who is going to fall, and fall hard. Back in the time of Watergate, CBS News was one of the main gatherers and reporters of all that Nixon had done and continued to do. Today, CBS is but a dot on the landscape, with short and often misleading mentions of “Bridge-gate.” In contrast, MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post and many local outlets in New Jersey are hot on the case. We’re most fortunate to have them doing so. While MSNBC has cut into my reading time, it does provide enough commercial time so that it’s not all lost. They’re doing a great job – stay cool, stay calm, and watch your ratings increase as you do so.
* I recognize that there are some outstanding legislators in Missouri; unfortunately they’re not in positions of power.