Pat and Keith’s Excellent Adventure: Pundit Soap Operas

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Venerable daytime soap One Life To Live may have signed off for the last time Friday after 44 years, but the tales of two political pundits  are poised to take up the slack. msnbc reports that uber-conservative Pat Buchanan has been granted leave of absence from the cable network after coming out with his new screed book, Suicide of a Superpower. With tantalizing chapter titles  like The End of White America and The Death of Christian America, network chief Phil Griffin pulled the plug on msnbc’s version of the “Wild Man of Borneo” in October saying he “didn’t think it should be part of the national dialogue much less part of the dialogue on MSNBC.” Amen to that brother, but shouldn’t we at least get a little sample like this beaut:

Back then, black and white lived apart, went to different schools and churches, played on different playgrounds, and went to different restaurants, bars, theaters, and soda fountains. But we shared a country and a culture. We were one nation. We were Americans.

And here’s one that I selected in honor of Martin Luther King Day:

Half a century after Martin Luther King envisioned a day when his children would be judged ‘not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character,’ journalists of color are demanding the hiring and promotion of journalists based on the color of their skin. Jim Crow is back. Only the color of the beneficiaries and the color of the victims have been reversed.

Pure poetry there, Pat, and so true — in that  fawning Jim Crow sort of way you have. No word yet on just when Pat might make his triumphant return, but Vegas says the odds aren’t good for the  man who makes many of us think of Nixon and his gang of marauders along with that “Southern Strategy.” Query, who came up with  that idea for Nixon?  For the youthful readers, ol’ Pat was a “Tricky Dicky” speechwriter and political adviser before branching out into punditry.

The left wasn’t immune from the drama either, as acknowledged drama-king Keith Olbermann was MIA from the Al Gore fledgling network Current following a dispute over production values for his show, Countdown. Now, I’ve watched Olbermann a few times since his move from msnbc, and the production values at Current aren’t great from riotously funny graphic snafus to blown light bulbs, the show has that high school play feel sometimes, but for a cool 10 million dollars a year you think ol’ Keith could suck it up and at least attend the network’s coverage of the Iowa Caucuses. The sides have since made peace, but not until lawyering up over Keith’s role.  Olbermann is known for a thin skin, leaving both msnbc and ESPN in now famous huffs over issues like unauthorized political contributions and unauthorized TV appearances. The word at Current is that Olbermann was miffed when Al Gore hired former CNN exec David Borman as network president, effectively supplanting Keith as the network’s chief newsman.  Reports are that Olbermann removed the title as Current’s “chief news officer” from his Twitter page following the hire. While the network and it’s only star say they have made up for now, history says it’s only a matter of time until the next blowup.

Will Pat ever get back to Morning Joe and talking about the good ol’ days of the 50’s — the 1850’s? Can Keith avoid broadcasting in the dark and bringing his lawyers to every production meeting? Stay tuned.

Sources:  CBS News; New York Times; TPM

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

43 thoughts on “Pat and Keith’s Excellent Adventure: Pundit Soap Operas”

  1. My wife and I always felt that, at MSNBC, Keith was an acquired taste. But at Current TV, he’s been sensational. He calls it as he sees it, and never backs down. He’s a passionate, eloquent voice for progressive causes. He’s been the only one to consistently cover Occupy Wall Street and its progeny in depth, when other networks avoided it like the proverbial plague. He covered the movement so well that we went to OWS to donate clothing and sleeping bags, and to observe OWS for ourselves. I have since returned to donate my professional services. (I’m an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist.) I doubt that we would have done so without having seen Keith’s excellent coverage. We await his return!

  2. Pat Buchanan claimed the phrase about changing dicks in the middle of a screw in one of his television interviews. But Google says it is attributable to some McGovern guy. Google had some other things good about Pat Buchanan. He is quoted as saying “that Obama is the Bain of capitalizm.”
    Is that not the place where Willard Romney worked?

  3. I can only speak for myself, but thank God for KO…there were many dark days during the Bush Admin that without Keith and his bombastic ways I would have given up hope for this country….when you are the only voice crying in the wilderness, and for a long time Keith was it, I believe you deserve a pass for getting carried away…plus not being a lawyer I would have never known who Prof Turley was or found this great blog that I feel privileged to read an on occasion, make comments on.

  4. Elaine,

    Molly Ivins was one heck of a lady…She told you the way she thought it and was generally right…I met her at Scholz’s Beer Garden in Austin years ago….and in my case many, many beers ago….

  5. Elaine M. – Patty hits all the buttons. He hates EVERYONE! I think the first time I became aware of him was his RNC speech that Molly Ivins said “sounded better in its original German”

    I dug into his history a little & the first thing I found was him bragging about how he & his brothers used to lay in ambush for Protestant kids in his neighborhood. He was quite proud of beating smaller boys or when they outnumbered their victims.

    His continued appearance on what passes for a liberal TV network is further evidence of how far off the rails America has gone.

  6. Mike Spindell: “Could that be because we have a Black President and that fact alone, aside from his policies, has enraged that element so much that they no longer need to resort to code to mask their bigoted hatred?”

    Yep. The policies are immaterial to what we have been seeing for the last 3 1/2 years. It began with his nomination and has only become more virulent since then.

    Some signs:

    A good refutation of some of the claims Pat made on the Maddow show in regard to US history/race and Sotomayor

  7. Pete: “…really creepy bukake.”

    LOL, I think Mark was making an editorial comment with his choice of illustration, but then my mind just devolves to the lowest common denominator when it comes to Pat.

  8. and that picture of him looks like a really creepy bukake. (try getting that image out of you heads)

  9. yeah, pat misses the good old days. not too old though, not as far back as the “help wanted no irish need apply” signs. just to the whites only signs.

  10. Swarthmore Mom. I agree that there are similarities.
    Mike S.,
    I am with you. I would have guessed that they taught the difference between facts and lies in Journalism school.

  11. Anon Nurse,

    Good quote. What gets me is that in my naivete I believed that reporting the truth on someones supposed statement of facts, was taught as basic reportorial ethics in Journalism School. It seems I was wrong.

  12. The New York Times public editor’s very public utterance

    by Clay Shirky

    Thursday 12 January 2012 22.32 EST


    This is what was so extraordinary about his original question: he is evidently so steeped in newsroom culture that he does not understand – literally, does not understand, as we know from his subsequent clarifications – that this is not a hard question at all, considered from the readers’ perspective. Readers do not care about the epistemological differences between lies and weasel words; we want newspapers to limit the ability of politicians to make dubious assertions without penalty. Judging from the reactions to his post, most of us never understood that this wasn’t the newspapers’ self-conceived mission in the first place.

    If the Times were to commit itself to challenging deliberately vague political language, it would have to express skepticism about some huge percentage of utterances made by public figures. Newspapers, at least in their US configuration, are simply not in the business of broadcasting skepticism about mainstream political speech.

    This is partly because centrist publications enjoy more uniform access to politicians than partisan ones (even if the partisanship is simply an intolerance for hogwash). It’s also because treating readers as political participants rather than spectators would be frowned on by advertisers, for whom the relative neutrality of the mainstream press is a prized part of that platform’s value.

    The immediate fallout from Brisbane’s question will be minor – no paper in the United States, not even the Times (as its editor partially concedes), has enough staff to express continuous skepticism about political speech – but there may yet be a lasting effect to be reckoned with. Having asked, in a completely innocent way, whether the Times should behave like an advocate for the readers, rather than a stenographer to politicians, the question cannot now be unasked. Every day in which the Times (and indeed, most US papers) fail at what has clearly surfaced as their readers’ preference on the matter will be a day in which that gap remains uncomfortably visible.

  13. Mike,

    I read about it on Glenn Greenwald’s blog at Salon:

    Arthur Brisbane and selective stenography

    The New York Times‘ Public Editor Arthur Brisbane unwittingly sparked an intense and likely enduring controversy yesterday when he pondered — as though it were some agonizing, complex dilemma — whether news reporters “should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.” That’s basically the equivalent of pondering in a medical journal whether doctors should treat diseases, or asking in a law review article whether lawyers should defend the legal interests of their clients, etc.: reporting facts that conflict with public claims (what Brisbane tellingly demeaned as being “truth vigilantes”) is one of the defining functions of journalism, at least in theory. Subsequent attempts to explain what he meant, along with a response from the NYT‘s Executive Editor, Jill Abramson, will only add fuel to the fire.

  14. “He prefers to talk about the truth of an issue–not the opposing sides of every story.”


    In light of your comment, which I fully agree with, did you catch this story this week? It astounded me that the question had to be asked, but then considering the state of “news” organizations reporting today, quite indicative of the current reality.

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