The Hazards of Live TV: #25,161
I’ve always enjoyed the feisty back-and-forths that MSNBC appearances provide me. I hope and expect to continue these.
The question for the Romney bullying segment was “does the story matter?” I took that to mean “does this incident tell us anything about Romney would be as President.” I answered no. I maintained that position throughout the segment. Tamron thought I was ambushing her, apparently, and so she cut off my mic, I learned later.
It would be easy to take one side or the other in this spat as being right. But I’m not going to do that because it’s not that cut and dried as there are several things at play here.
Most of the blame here lies with Carney. Whether or not he thought he was answering the question regarding the subject he thought he was going to be discussing takes a big back seat to the subject of how he decided to answer the question. He decided to make this confrontational. That’s all on him. This wasn’t like the time MSNBC booked a known bomb thrower and provocateur like John Ziegler on Contessa Brewer’s hour. What ensued with Ziegler was easily predictable…what ensued with Carney was not.
But while I lay most of the blame for this with Carney, because it was his answer that started all this, it takes two to tango and Hall doesn’t get off the hook entirely. While her response to Carney was nowhere near as outrageous or over the line as Thomas Roberts calling out an empty chair, Hall could have and should have handled this better.
I know, I know…Phil Griffin likes his POV even if it’s supposed to be from his un-POV news anchors, but there are ways to react to Carney that are effective and ways to react to Carney that are not so effective. Thrusting yourself into the story is not one of the better ways to react to Carney. I don’t care if you take personal offense to it or not, the moment you “go there” you’ve lost the interview and the segment is unrecoverable and ruined and the storyline is no longer about Carney’s alleged attempt at misdirection but about your response to Carney. In other words a segment that wasn’t about you just became about you. That’s something one should try to avoid because it’s a loser scenario. Just ask Contessa Brewer how the Ziegler segment worked out for her in the court of public opinion. It’s scenes like this that are the reason why Cable News is the butt end of so many jokes.
Unless Hall herself did Carney’s booking, I find it questionable that she knew the exact terms that were used to book Carney and the words chosen to express them. Hall said this to Carney on the air according to Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher…
“You don’t want me to go anything on you,” Hall interjected. “You’re actually irritating me right now. I’m going to be honest with you. Yes, you are. You knew the topics we were going to discuss. You knew them. You agreed.”
But did Hall know exactly word for word how Carney was pitched? I’m going to give Carney some wiggle room here and suggest he release the emails of the pitch from MSNBC to prove the following assertion he made to Politico…
The question for the Romney bullying segment was “does the story matter?” I took that to mean “does this incident tell us anything about Romney would be as President.” I answered no.
Proving that Carney was indeed pitched that way would at least let him off the hook in my eyes for his line of response but not for how he chose his words.
That’s still all on him. Ultimately it’s still mostly Carney’s fault. Hall doesn’t get all aggro if Carney doesn’t throw the first punch. Yes, I wish she had not lost it like that and instead responded in a more restrained manner but she never would have responded at all if Carney hadn’t lit a fire under her.