Tag Archives: MSNBC

Evidence that Liberals and Conservatives Can Have Civilized Conversations on Climate Change

This past summer, I talked about a segment on a cable news show in the US called, “All In With Chris Hayes.” I first started watching Chris Hayes when he started his weekly weekend show, “Up With Chris Hayes,” (that has since been renamed for the new host, Up With Steve Kornacki). I really liked his show because he often had guests on the show who were of differing ideologies. For some cable news networks, that’s big, but what was even bigger was that the people that were on the show — rarely — would scream at each other to make a point. That’s not to say the arguments never got heated — sometimes, they did — but there was still an element of civilized conversation. It’s what I imagine good political discourse should look like.

When Chris’s show moved to primetime, he tried to bring some of those same elements. There was a graphic a while back (this is the closest I could find) that showed Chris Hayes’ weekend show (or was it Melissa Harris-Perry’s? I don’t quite remember) was — by far — the most welcoming show for non-white male guests. Meaning, proportionally, the show had far more women and non-white people on the show than any of the other shows on cable news.

Anyway, back to the segment from this summer.

In the segment, Chris Hayes had on Tim Carney — a noted conservative. They were talking about what was a bit of a hot button issue at the time, but the two of them were able to actually participate in a civil discussion. No one tried to yell over the other and as a viewer, I left the segment feeling more informed about the issue from both perspectives.

A couple of days ago, Chris had Tim on the show again — this time to talk about climate change. When Chris first introduced the segment, I wondered if the discussion might descend into a yelling match, but I was pleased to find that wasn’t the case. In fact, someone of a liberal ideology (Chris Hayes) and someone of a conservative ideology (Tim Carney) were actually able to have a civil discussion about climate change. It was kind of amazing to see. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a cable news segment where that’s happened on the matter of climate change.

The end of the segment was my favourite part:

If we get to the point, Tim, if we get to the point where James Inhofe goes to the floor and says, ‘you know what the world is warming and carbon emissions are contributing to that warming, but the liberals are wrong with their solution’ and [Matt] Drudge goes on the front page of Drudge [Report] and says the world is warming, but the liberals are wrong about their solution,’ … nothing would make me happier.

In case you’re not very familiar with the climate change “debate,” there’s a sect who purport that climate change isn’t real. Usually, the ideology of people who makeup these kinds of groups are conservative, (but that doesn’t mean they speak for all conservatives or that they’re the only ones). As a result, this tends to make conservative politicians — as a way to cater to these voters — espouse the same kinds of opinions (Senator James Inhofe from Oklahoma being one of them).

That’s why Chris is saying that nothing would make him happier than to see noted conservative outlets (the Drudge Report) submit that climate change is real, but that the liberals are wrong about how to fix it. As far as I can tell, this is what many liberals have been wishing would be the case for some time. That is, ‘it’s okay if you don’t think we have the right solution, but can we at least agree that this thing is real and we have to do something about it?’

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Should it be Illegal to Call Someone ‘fat’ on TV?

Jennifer Lawrence thinks so.

Take a look:

She certainly makes a good point. If we’re regulating other words that are spoken on TV because of the effect they have on younger generations, why not the word fat? I can already begin to see the argument against: “if we start regulating words like ‘fat,’ does this become a slippery slope into regulating other words?” While I understand that practically, regulating criticisms like ‘fat’ on TV might be a bit difficult, I think it’s certainly something interesting to consider.

I originally saw this clip as part of a bit from Morning Joe, but that doesn’t embed so well here, so I found a clip of Walters’ interview with Lawrence on YouTube. The actual bit I saw had some commentary from some of the folks who make regular appearances on the morning television program on MSNBC. As I said, I can’t embed that video, so take a look.

Similar to how the opinion can be understood of the “slippery slope,” the first fellow that speaks on the video that’s telling Jennifer Lawrence (and other celebrities) to ‘shut up’ because they always blame the media for everything — I don’t buy that. It’s not that the media’s at fault for everything, but as has been demonstrated, they certainly do have a large impact on the way that people feel about themselves. In particular, young and impressionable people.

As a result, someone who outright denies the possibility that the media can have an opinion on the way that young people (and even not young people!) can feel about themselves, to me, seems out of touch. To reiterate, I can see where this fellow is coming from, but putting that aside for a second, Jennifer Lawrence absolutely has a point. There’s certainly a culture of highlighting flaws that is perpetuated (not just in the media), but in our culture — and in particular, with young women. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: if you haven’t yet, take the time and watch Miss Representation. It’s an important documentary that I hope will shed some light on this issue.

To be clear, I’m not implying that people, the media, or our culture are necessarily perpetuating this attitude intentionally, but that doesn’t mean that there completely innocent, either.

Musings on the Future of Cable News

After reading Kelefa Sanneh‘s piece in The New Yorker that took an in-depth look at MSNBC, it got me thinking about what I wrote a few days about about the future of TV. In that post, I mostly talked about the idea of moving television programs to online streaming or mobile streaming. I didn’t, however, talk about the idea of unbundling TV packages and allowing people to choose which networks they wanted.

This is one of the the things that Sanneh briefly touches on in his article. In particular, he questions whether the unbundling of TV packages would hurt cable news programming. That is, would CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News keep their heads above water if they weren’t part of a bundle? For instance, Sanneh tells us that FOX News (the leading cable news network since 2002), gets about half as many viewers as the lowest-rated network news program. That’s significant. Would FOX News survive if it wasn’t bundled? Might it do better if it weren’t bundled?

Chances are that cable news — barring something unforeseen — would be in trouble if TV packages became unbundled.

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About a quarter of the way into the article, Sanneh has a quote from the President of MSNBC that I find rather startling. I’ll include the lead-in, so the quote makes sense [Emphasis mine]:

“I’m building for the future,” Griffin said, not long after the switch. He was sitting in his office, reviewing a series of promotional clips that highlighted Hayes and the network’s other stars. “You’ve got a young guy who’s incredibly smart, who’s got a following,” he said. “We’re making a bet that this is what our audience wants.” 

The startling part is the bit that I’ve bolded. I don’t understand that a company as big as MSNBC would be gambling in the way that Griffin claims to be. They’re making a bet that this is what the audience wants? They don’t have the resources to find out if that’s what their audience wants? Maybe Sanneh hasn’t included the whole quote, but this to me makes it sound like Griffin is being a bit cavalier with the most important time slot.

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FOX News consistently outperforms other cable news networks in an older demographic: 35-64. Take this past Monday’s cable news ratings, for example. FOX News outperformed all the other cable news networks in this demographic at every time slot. The closest any network came in this demographic was in the 9 o’clock hour when Hannity beat The Rachel Maddow Show by over 200,000 viewers. I don’t know how to put this delicately, so I’ll say it like this: what happens when this demographic “passes on?”

Yes, FOX News still outperforms the other networks in the coveted 25-54 age bracket, but their lead is substantially smaller. The largest lead FOX News has is during the 8 o’clock hour and that’s a little more than 250,000 viewers (over the next closest show). If I were Roger Ailes (or the guy who was likely to replace Roger Ailes), this is something I would be thinking considering, in addition to the prospect of unbundling TV packages.

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The last thing I wanted to talk about is this idea that those people who MSNBC is trying to reach may not like cable news or TV:

One explanation for MSNBC’s struggles is that the network is trying to do something nearly impossible: it is a cable news network for people who don’t like cable news, and may not even like television.

MSNBC, in its current format as I understand it, is still quite new. It’s only recently switched over to a more partisan-esque feel. I wonder if there’s still a bit of a lag before the viewers they’re trying to reach will show up. I also wonder if TV does start to move in a new direction (simultaneous online streaming), will this open up a new audience for MSNBC? I’m particularly interested in MSNBC because of this idea that the people who MSNBC is targeting are those people who wouldn’t normally watch cable news or TV. I wonder if these people had another avenue to watch these programs, would they?

 

Massive Miscalculation by GOP Chairman Reince Priebus: No Debates with CNN or NBC

Earlier today, I saw a series of tweets from the GOP Chairman, Reince Priebus:

At first blush, it seems like nothing more than some kind of a stunt to draw attention to the matter. It’s also a great way for the Chairman to do some interviews and bad-mouth CNN/NBC. As I thought about it a bit more, it seems like this can’t end well for the Chairman:

It wouldn’t surprise anyone that there are more Democrats who watch MSNBC and more Republicans who watch Fox News, but what about the people who watch CNN? Well, as it happens, this is home to the political Independents of the electorate. According to TiVo data (actually quite sophisticated):

CNN, which has branded itself as the cable news network without a partisan skew, has apparently made the sale among independent voters. The network’s biggest skew was among independents, 17 percent above the national average with that group.

So, the majority of Independents that watch TV get their news from CNN. Let’s play out this scenario for the GOP. Assume that CNN/NBC decide not to pull their “Hillary Programming,” then the GOP has two options:

1. They’re forced into reneging on their initial stance of no primary debates for CNN/NBC.

2. Or, Like they said, having no debates with those networks. I suppose there might be some unforeseen third option, but at this point, this is what it looks like.

If they pull they’re debates with CNN/NBC, they’ll be losing out on the largest concentration of Independents. For a party that’s currently not in power that wants to be in power, in what will be an “up for grabs” election with President Barack Obama joining the list of Presidents who’ve served two terms, it seems ludicrous that they’d want to remove “free media” of their candidates to Independents.

So, this would force them into reneging on their stance of not having any debates with CNN/NBC, right? Except that this may make them look weak with their base of voters, which usually wouldn’t matter. However, “Republicans like elected officials who stick to their positions.” From my vantage point, this ultimatum has backed the GOP into a corner for which there is no escape.

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Revisiting that third option… it may just be that no one cares about any of this when the 2014 midterms roll around or the 2016 general election.

More Civilized Conversations, Less Screaming Over Each Other

A few days ago, I happened to catch a segment from All In With Chris Hayes. He had on one of the people I follow on Twitter, Tim Carney. Part of the reason that this is noteworthy is because Carney is of a different ideological perspective from Hayes. Carney writes for the Washington Examiner, which, in 2008, supported McCain for President and in 2012, supported Mitt Romney. And Chris Hayes, a host on MSNBC, probably voted for Obama in the last two elections.

Anyhow, the segment comes after Hayes previews the show and introduces the topic: the ‘missing white voter.’ This particular usage of the phrase comes from a series of articles (I’m not the only one who likes to write series!) in Real Clear Politics by Sean Trende where he makes the argument that Republicans needn’t get onboard with immigration reform in order to win future elections — they just need to appeal to those white voters who didn’t vote in the last election.

After the introduction from Hayes, Carney begins making his points. One of things I thought was worth noting was how Carney talked about Rubio. From what I’ve seen/read, many conservatives think that Rubio will have a good shot at being elected President in 2016. So, when Carney seemed to make points against Rubio, I was a bit surprised. On the whole, I really enjoyed the brief back-and-forth between Hayes and Carney — they’re both smart commentators. Most importantly though, I liked that it didn’t appear that the two of them were getting caught up in the ideological talking points. It seemed like they were really talking about the substance of what Hayes introduced in the segment. I wish that cable news was more like that segment and less like a game of one-upmanship to see who can scream the loudest to convince the viewers that, ‘they must be right because they were more angry.’

Note: If the interview (or this discussion) intrigued you, I highly recommend checking out the article from Tom Edsall on the New York Times’ Opinionator. He has a really good summary of the idea that Republicans should just focus on white voters.

Is Sunshine Really the Best Disinfectant: Edward Snowden, PRISM, and the NSA

In keeping with the theme from yesterday’s post about Edward Snowden and the leaks about PRISM and the NSA, I thought I’d share something that I was reminded of when I was watching some of the coverage of it earlier this week. Before doing that though, if you haven’t, and regardless of your position on whether he should or shouldn’t have done this, I would urge you to read the article and watch the clip about him in The Guardian.

A couple of days ago I happened to catch a segment of Morning Joe where one of the journalists who broke the story about the NSA, Glenn Greenwald, was on. The clip is about 20 minutes and there’s an interesting exchange between one of the hosts and Greenwald. The part I’d like to highlight today happens towards the end of the segment. I think it was Willie Geist who asked the question and included the phrase, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant,” in reference to getting the information about these programs out in the open. This reminded me of a paper I wrote for a Public Administration class and I thought it might be useful if I detailed some of the research I used for that paper.

The idea that “sunshine is the best disinfectant” with regard to public administration stems from the idea of government reform. In a 2006 paper in Public Administration Review, Paul C. Light defined four tides of government reform:

All government reform is not created equal. Some reforms seek greater efficiency through the application of scientific principles to organization and management, whereas others seek increased economy through attacks on fraud, waste, and abuse. Some seek improved performance through a focus on outcomes and employee engagement, whereas others seek increased fairness through transparency in government and access to information. Although these four approaches are not inherently contradictory — and can even be found side by side in omnibus statutes such as the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act — they emerge from very different readings of government motivations.

These approaches also offer an ideology for every political taste: scientific management for those who prefer tight chains of command and strong presidential leadership; the war on waste for those who favor coordinated retrenchment and what one inspector general once described as “ the visible odium of deterrence ” ( Light 1993 ); a watchful eye for those who believe that sunshine is the best disinfectant for misbehavior; and liberation management for those who hope to free agencies and their employees from the oppressive rules and oversight embedded in the three other philosophies. [Emphasis Added]

My point in sharing this article wasn’t to say that the idea that sunshine is the best disinfectant is good or bad, but merely to put it in context with some other ways of reforming government. You can decide for yourself which you prefer. In fact, there’s a handy table for differentiating the four:

The Four Tides of Reform

And one more interesting table that shows you how government reform in the US has changed since 1945:

Patterns in Reform Philosophy

Cutting Salary to Show Solidarity: This Isn’t Empathy

A couple of days ago, there was news indicating that President Obama was going to return 5% of his salary, which amounts to about $17,000, as a sign of solidarity with those federal workers who’ve been furloughed. In case you’re not familiar with this situation, I’ll explain a little first.

In 2011, there was the debt-ceiling debacle. One of the things that came of that was the sequester. The sequester was supposed to be such drastic cuts to the federal budget meant as an incentive to make some sort of deal before the deadline. It wasn’t ever meant to happen, (at least that’s what politicians said publicly), and the date set for the deadline to make a deal (and begin the implementation of the sequester if there weren’t a deal) was January 2, 2013. As part of the New Year’s Eve tax deal, Congress pushed the start of the sequester to March 1, 2013, which is when it began.

As the sequester has a great deal of spending cuts, this has greatly affected some of the workers in the federal government. For instance, some workers have had to take furloughs — temporary unpaid leave. Companies (or the government) don’t usually use this unless there’s a need because of the budget situation. As an aside: on Chris Hayes’ new show (All In with Chris Hayes), he went into detail with one particular worker who has had to take furloughs and had a brief panel discussion about it. That brings us back to President Obama.

A couple of days ago, President Obama stated that he was going to return a portion of his salary to show solidarity with those workers who are having to take these temporary unpaid leaves. The President may have started it, but he’s certainly not finishing it. Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano are all showing similar signs of solidarity. So is freshman Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. But this is not limited to Democrats. Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Mike Lee have both indicated that they will return some of their salary. I think all of this is well and good, but the one thing that irked me was how Lindsey Graham wrote about his decision on Twitter. (I should note, I don’t know if any of the other politicians have said made similar claims, as I just saw someone retweet Lindsey Graham’s commentary.)

After I saw this tweet, I went on a bit of a rant on Twitter that I’ll include below:

 

Let’s first start with the issue of empathy. People often confuse empathy and sympathy. I’ve written about empathy before:

Empathy is at the heart of the beginning of the solution to many of the world’s problems. When we empathize, we are able to recognize the emotions that another is feeling. At the root of compassion is empathy. [Note: sympathy is quite different from empathy. Sympathy is simply a concern for another’s well-being, where empathy usually refers to one sharing the same emotional state.]

I should note that the “note” in that quote actually comes from the post. So, now that we know what empathy means, let’s return to Senator Graham’s comment. He said he was cutting 20% of his pay to empathize with those furloughed. In order for Senator Graham’s actions to demonstrate empathy, it’d actually have to affect his life in the way that those furloughed are affected. For an example of this, scroll up in this post and watch the video I linked to with Chris Hayes talking to someone who is being furloughed. Senator Graham’s current salary for FY2013 is $174,000. If we take 20% away, that leaves him with about $140,000. Something else that’s important to this conversation is Graham’s net worth, which is now pegged at $1.5 million. I understand that politicians have to keep up two offices (one in DC and one in their district/state), but does anyone think that Senator Graham’s going to have as hard a go as thing with a $140K salary as the military serviceman who had to get a second job delivering pizzas?

This is not empathy.

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As an addendum to this conversation, I wanted to include data about the current Congress’s net worth, but there doesn’t seem to be a list out there. However, I was able to find a list for all members of Congress in 2010. Some things of note: of 100 Senators, only 7 had a net worth of less than $100,000 and 24 had a net worth of more than $10,000,000. Of the 435 member of Congress, 81 had a net worth of less than $100,000 and 42 had a net worth of more than $10,000,000.