The Hazards of Live TV: #24,970


Related: The McClatchy Newspapers’ Rick Kushman torches MSNBC’s Olympic Update show without having seen the above clip…

Worst bit of the Olympic coverage, I mean ever: MSNBC’s “Olympics Update.” It’s supposed to be a wrap-up show after 12 hours of MSNBC coverage, but it’s just juvenile and nasty.

It runs at 2 p.m. in the West and it’s anchored in New York by MSNBC’s Tamron Hall, who treats the sports and events surrounding the Games with a smarmy, gossipy tone like she’s on “Access Hollywood.”

In Beijing, Tiki Barber and Jenna Wolfe, both “Today” show correspondents, are supposed to add context and personality, but that mostly involves Wolfe’s Mean-Girl insults – about coaches, athletes, even a weightlifter who got hurt – and her saying, “This is what bothers me.”

You feel bad for Barber, who at least tries to be professional, because they all end up sounding like adults trying to be cool teens. But they aren’t funny enough or insightful enough to be anything but icky.

Update: CJR Daily’s Robert Weintraub doesn’t see it Kushman’s way and trashes Barber as well

While fellow Football Night In America commentator Cris Collinsworth has a featured primetime role on the NBC mothership’s coverage, Barber is relegated to MSNBC. He is co-hosts the daily Olympic Update, airing at 5PM EST. There is a chirpy female host back in New York, and another alongside Barber in the Chinese capital. The show engages in the all important Phelps worship, summarizes other highlights of the day, soft-pedals the weather in smoggy Beijing, sends a goofy correspondent (not Tiki) out to “compete in” (read: goof on) ping pong and epee and other “sports.” Generally, it looks to replicate a morning show vibe during the cocktail hour.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, and Barber, who has forfeited much of his hardcore football cred (partially because his team won the Super Bowl without him), isn’t unsuited to the format. He has the fake smile and forced enthusiasm of a TV vet, or a Today host, which is what he is now (at least for an hour a day). But even Katie Couric is faring better as CBS Evening News anchor than Tiki is in Beijing.

Olympic Update is on for two hours a day, but as far as Barber is concerned, it’s Amateur Hour. During a segment discussing the USA hoops squad (assessing whether they will do better than in 2004, something of a ridiculous topic after a single game), he referred to the team’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s fabled Coach K and the winner of three NCAA titles, as “Mike Rezevski.” Barber also opined that the team was playing better this time because it had spent much more time together this summer, which isn’t the case—just under three weeks pre-Olympics, this year and four years ago.

Update: TVNewser reports that MSNBC’s decision to air this show came late in the planning process and adds this…

You have to wonder what more planning might have meant. But if the numbers hold, the criticism might be meaningless.

I disagree. Big numbers don’t automatically invalidate any criticism. All big numbers mean is that the viewers are willing to put up with any flaws they see to get the info that the show contains, not that there isn’t anything to what Kushman and Weintraub wrote.

2 Responses to “The Hazards of Live TV: #24,970”

  1. THIS is what they’re doing instead of, oh I don’t know, covering a pontential WWIII in Russia? Unbelievable.

  2. […] High-Basslik supposedly produced MSNBC’s daily 2008 post Olympics wrap up show which was widely trashed by the critics as a train wreck. But I also heard that High-Bassalik had a multi-year deal so, though there had […]

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