Thomas Roberts is no Lawrence O’Donnell…
This did not happen on MSNBC primetime. This happened during MSNBC’s straight news hour with Thomas Roberts. The New Civil Rights Movement’s David Badash writes about a segment where Thomas Roberts showed a picture of an empty chair for a segment that it turned was caused by an error by MSNBC’s own booking department.
MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts today was forced to interview Maggie Gallagher‘s empty chair as Maggie Gallagher was a no-show. Roberts stated that just one hour prior Gallagher had confirmed she would appear.
The video of this was far worse than Badash’s description. I was going to say that I wouldn’t say that Roberts was mocking Gallagher but after watching the whole video I’m not so sure anymore. At the very least he was tossing out more that a few cheap shots and the camera shot of the empty chair was gratuitous at best.
This segment wasn’t just handled wrong it was criminally handled wrong. There is no justification for what Roberts did on the air. None. Zero. It was over the top and inappropriate. The proper way to handle it is to say that a guest was scheduled to appear but couldn’t make it in time and we hope they will appear in the future. Then you move on and don’t refer to it again. Given that you don’t know what actually happened you must err on the side of caution…for reasons that now seem all too obvious given that it was MSNBC booking that screwed up.
Roberts apologized on Twitter for MSNBC’s error…
MYSTERY solved… @maggiemarriage was in a studio ready for our #nom interview it was just the wrong studio booked improperly on @msnbc_booking IT WAS OUR MISTAKE and she has an open invite for the show. Our sincerest apologies.
I’m sorry but this is insufficient given what Roberts did to Gallagher on the air. Only an on the air apology Friday will suffice and Roberts must not just apologize for MSNBC’s booking error, which was unfortunate bordering on excusable, but for his behavior regarding her non-appearance. Contrition is not an option here. This is supposed to be MSNBC’s non-POV straight news time, not Lawrence O’Donnell’s POV primetime where the rules are different and O’Donnell can get away with mocking an empty chair.
If I sound angry here, it is because I am. I have watched MSNBC since the day it launched and, not mincing words or understating the situation, this is the worst display of journalistic unprofessionalism I have ever seen on its newscasts. To say it’s an embarrassment is doing a disservice. By rights Roberts should be suspended as it totally undermines MSNBC and NBC News and is no better than David Shuster’s “pimped out” comment regarding Chelsea Clinton for which Shuster got a small “vacation” for.
That is if MSNBC still wants to stand for news and journalistic values from 9-3 anymore.
P.S.: “Expozedz”? Nice typo in the chyron there…
Update: I want clarify something here. When I equated Roberts’ on air antics to the suspension of David Shuster over the “pimped out” comment I wasn’t saying that Roberts did something truly godawful. Some people felt the Shuster comment was truly godawful. I didn’t. I felt that given it was during Hardball that it had occurred on it was on the edge at best but not completely out of bounds. But if MSNBC was going to suspend Shuster over what I considered a borderline call, then Roberts’ antics during a non-POV newscast where the rules covering appropriateness are supposed to be much stricter, in my eyes should merit similar consideration.