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August 29, 2015

Election Night: MSNBC (final thoughts)

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 5th 2008 10:14AM
D GregoryIt's about 12 hours later and as I look back on MSNBC's Election Plaza broadcast, I can see things a bit more clearly now. Overall, the "place for politics" did a fine job covering the most historic presidential election in my lifetime. It wasn't the most dramatic, but it was living history.

History was in the making because we knew going in whether the Dems or the Reps won, an African-American or a woman would be in the White House by the end of the night. MSNBC captured that political reality with images and by letting the camera run long after Obama's speech just to watch the faces of the people -- including Oprah and Jesse Jackson, both in tears -- celebrate in joy.

The prognosticators and pollsters were all on target by choosing Obama/Biden as the winners, so that means nobody's at Gallup or Fivethirtyeight.com is losing his/her job.

It would have been really embarrassing if they'd been wrong. Embarrassing, but more dramatic TV. In 2000, the Gore-Bush election which lead to a recount, that was great drama. Insane, theatric, wild and unprecedented drama on an epic scale. We didn't have anything like that last night.

MSNBC leaned heavily on the multiple talking heads to keep the suspense -- such as it was -- alive till 11 o'clock when the California-Oregon-Washington projections sealed the deal for Obama. It looked like Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann were on their best behavior. Nobody got snarky or nasty or superior (Keith).

There is one thing that I think flaws the MSNBC coverage, however. They are really split with NBC News coverage and it creates a weird chasm. While watching MSNBC, I was wondering where was Andrea Mitchell? Tom Brokaw? David Shuster? The NBC talent pool is parsed out over two networks. You don't have that problem at CNN.

As for all the peripherals, the magic maps, the ice skating rink, the Election Plaza with the giant TV screens, I can't say any of it was that great. In the months leading up to election day, I was more impressed with Chuck Todd's electoral college touch screen. He didn't use that smaller display last night. The larger, podium thing was cumbersome to me and didn't really improve the broadcast.

For the future, I'd like to see MSNBC determine who the number one voice is, because David Gregory is not the guy. He was the moderator last night, the traffic cop, a conductor on a very fast moving train. He was good, not great. They need to someone else. Maybe it's Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann separately, not as a tag team.

So, bottom line, will I be watching MSNBC in two years for the next Election Plaza broadcast? Yes, I'll be there. They may not be a perfect broadcast, but they are interesting.

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I mainly watched MSNBC. David Gregory was adequate for the anchor position. The guy who got me to watch MSNBC more than 4 years ago, Olbermann, is getting tiresome and on my nerves. How many superlatives can he rattle off in any five minutes? Maddow, as always, was up to snuff and lends a perspective that the others wished they could come up with. Matthews, well, I don't know, I'm either lukewarm with the guy or ice cold. Sometimes he has no idea what he's talking about. Buchanan is Buchanan, a grumpy old man who I imagine emerges from under a desk somewhere. Scarborough is a $%$&%*. Really. A total $%$&%*. Chuck Todd is highly competent and I hope better things for him. Eugene Robinson, I'm sorry to say, is a total gasbag. You know what Gene, stick to print! I liked you in print. Their other partners Anne Curry and Lester Holt were quite professional. Who else was on I can't recall. Believe me I was happy not to hear Brokaw and not to look at Mitchell or listen to her. Unfortunately Russert is dead and even though I found him always overbearing or never asking a good follow-up question or ever challenging anyone from the Bush Administration, his sweaty performance would have added the right spice.

November 05 2008 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Let Keith bring out a "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner tonight..Wouldn't want to make 'Ol Mac a liar, would we?

November 05 2008 at 3:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Amen Scott,
I hope that one outcome of this election cycle is that someone at MSNBC gives "Uncle Pat" a shawl, a mug of hot coco, thanks him for his service to this country and leads him to the front porch rocker where he can yell at the kids to stay off of his lawn til the end of his days.

Pat, it's called an "inside voice" please either learn to use it or turn up your hearing aide.

November 05 2008 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree about the oddness of the split between NBC and MSNBC. Through the whole election season we've seen much more of Chuck Todd, Brokaw, Thompson, and the others on the MSNBC coverage than we did last night. I guess that's because the NBC network was live on the air the whole time simultaneously--not the case for the primaries or conventions. I missed that broader base of analysis. But I missed Tim Russert more. Who didn't I miss? Pat Buchanan, who I think made only one or two appearances, a few more than Scarborough. But his sparring partner Rachel was at the main desk, along with Eugene Robinson, who has really impressed me throughout this season, both on TV and in print.
Also, it seemed like Matthews bloviated his opinions quite a bit, but kept his mouth shut during the "newsier" parts. For those projection and other anchor-type duties, it was a split between Gregory and Olbermann. Keith knows how to behave like an anchorman when necessary. Matthews, on the other hand, seemed to be more for color, almost in the same category as Rachel & Eugene Robinson, except, of course, he talked more and longer.

November 05 2008 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Rachel Maddow's time has come. She's the best thing to happen to MSNBC in a very long time.

November 05 2008 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

don't want to get overly political, but it was a treat to see Matthews put the smackdown on Tom Delay for his obvious hatred of Pelosi and the Dems.


November 05 2008 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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