MSNBC leans forward until it falls on a really bad tagline

MSNBC seems to be the network for people who are angry at other people for being angry at something in the first place. I think. This would at least explain their struggle to find an audience. To help them in their audience-finding effort they’ve unleashed a new tagline: Lean Forward. As in, “Lean forward but try not to fall asleep.”

MSNBC All you have to do is compare that with Fox’s “We report, you decide” to see what an epic fail this is.

The problem is that the tagline is in perfect keeping with the brand: It sums up the sort-of-but-not-quite-left-of-center liberals whom both the Right and the Left can’t stand. It’s like they really want to be for something, but not if it’s going to upset you. Lean forward, don’t actually move there. Which is really odd given that MSNBCs two most (only?) successful shows are Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow – neither of whom can be said to lack for fire. And one of whom, Maddow, is actually intelligent, too!

Congrats to MSNBC on producing one of the three worst taglines currently in use. The other two:

  • Army strong. With a half-a-trillion dollar budget you’d think they could afford at least one verb.
  • Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. I still can’t believe someone got paid for coming up with that.

They report, you decide – because they can’t make up their mind

MSNBC: Ethics Committee clears Sen. Burris (D-Ill.) of wrongdoing over appointment

Washington Post:  Senate ethics committee admonishes Burris

OK, all those of you who find the idea of a Senate ethics committee hysterical signal by saying “aye.” The motion passes by a vote of 270,000,000 to 100.

US media finally catches up to tent city story BBC ran a year ago

Exactly a year ago the BBC ran a story about a shanty towns in LA that were a result of The Great Downturn. At the time BoingBoing and those few others who saw it asked why we were learning about this from the UK media and not from the US media (in fairness the LATimes and Fox News picked up on it then as well but it didn’t make a ripple elsewhere).

Last September the story surfaced briefly in AP story only to get lost in the blizzard of the “Lisptick on a Pig” non-story. For some reason this is the week the US media caught on.

I have no idea what took so long. None. This is a story that has been literally sitting there for anyone to report. I mentioned it to a lot of working journalists. Nada.

Why Jon Stewart is today’s Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite was known for years as the most trusted man on TV (or America – depending on who you listened to). Watching Jon Stewart’s evisceration of first the entire “financial TV news” farce and Jim Cramer on last night’s The Daily Show is the latest and best example of why Stewart now has the title.

He did what I’ve seen far too few American broadcast journalists do – he was willing to be difficult and uncomfortable. (It’s not just TV that’s guilty of this – NPR had a series of interviews with car company CEOs earlier this year that was awe inspiring for its refusal to ask aggressive questions.) Watch BBC World News America or listen to BBC radio news to hear journalists who clearly are not concerned with whether the person being interviewed or the audience likes him or her. Then try to watch Anderson Cooper et al.

Stewart did what every real reporter does – he had the facts at hand and when the subject prevaricated he hit them with them. He continually cuts to clips of Cramer explaining how he used all the tricks and tactics that he said he didn’t know other traders and companies used. This is what Ted Koppel and Nightline was all about.

While the entire episode deserves an award – a special Pulitzer citation? – of particular note is this quote:

“These guys were on a Sherman’s March through their companies financed by our 401Ks and all the incentives of their companies were for short-term profit and they burned the fucking house down and walked away rich as hell and you guys knew that was going on.”

Cramer’s attempt at a defense (and kudos to Cramer for being willing to go on the show and face the music – his TV career is now over) was this:

We’re not always told the truth. Most importantly the market was going up for a really long time and our real sin was to continue to believe it could continue to go up in the face of what you described – a lot of borrowing, a lot of shenanigans. … I’m not Edward R. Murrow. I’m a guy trying to do an entertainment show about business.

In short, Cramer never recovered from one of the first things Stewart said to him: “I understand you want to make finance entertaining but it’s not a fucking game.”

Stewart is the most trusted man in America because HE DOESN’T PRETEND TO BE OTHER THAN WHAT HE IS. The show is flat out honest about the fact that they’re just trying to get some laughs. Jim Cramer and the rest of the CNBC/MSNBC/Fox Business hacks aren’t honest. As Stewart himself asks: “How is that different from an infomercial?”

Now if Stewart or someone else will just take down these asinine partisan political chattering shows. From Rachel Maddows to O’Reilly – they all need to realize that it’s not a fucking game.

BTW, kudos to Richard Laermer for his spot on live twitter (@laermer) commentary of what happened on the show.