What’s on your mind?
Archive for January, 2013
Politico’s Dylan Byers writes about the MSNBC Heslin video edits and has MSNBC’s apparent official reaction to it from their air…
On Monday on our program, we aired a portion of a hearing where we heard from Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We have received a number of comments over the past two days, so we are going to play the relevant portion of that testimony in full.
Byers’ prefaced the above with this…
UPDATE (4:50 p.m.): MSNBC addressed the Sandy Hook video edit in the same manner as it addressed the Romney video edit, running the full video but issuing no apology.
Nor an explanation. Nor an acknowledgement that what happened was (at the very least) a mistake or displaying any contrition. It was like the network was playing the role of the three year old who got into the cookie jar and then acted like nothing had happened when the parent came in and found cookie crumbs all over their face. This is supposed to be the definitive statement on the matter? Seriously?
If this had been an isolated incident that would be one thing. But, as Byers noted in his piece, this isn’t the first time in recent memory the network got called out for airing a selectively edited video. Nor was it the first time the network feigned a very odd indifference to the matter when it addressed the issue.
MSNBC has been dogged by accusations of selective editing before. In June of last year, the network edited footage of a campaign event at which Mitt Romney was discussing touchtone screens at a local chain store to illustrate the advantages of competition in the private sector. Instead, MSNBC depicted him as being naively amazed by the advent of touchtone screens. (MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell later aired the complete, unedited footage.)
That leaves us with just one topic that we can seriously ponder at the moment; why MSNBC thought it was just Ryan’s name being chanted to the point that they flashed Ryan’s name on the screen to emphasize it? I heard Romney’s name. Why didn’t MSNBC?
These three events all happened within the past seven months and all three were addressed without addressing the issues raised. This isn’t an outlier. It is now a pattern…a disturbing pattern.
MSNBC preaches “smart TV” but that “smart TV” is sitting on a shaky foundation. That foundation is the behind the scenes production that goes into putting that “smart TV” on the air. I could excuse one incident. I can’t excuse three in seven months because it suggests that the network is not doing anything to put a stop to incidents like this. MSNBC is re-enforcing this theory by its lack of contrition and candor; exacerbating it with a “What? Me?” indifference in addressing these incidents on the air and to the media.
This has now created a credibility gap between what the network says it’s doing and what we see it’s doing on the air. Gone apparently are the days where Keith Olbermann would apologize on the air for a gaffe that occurred when he wasn’t even on the air. Now, the new paradigm is to dodge, duck, and obfuscate.
If MSNBC doesn’t see how serious this really is, they are in denial. MSNBC bases its “smart” programming; what its hosts and guests discuss on the air, on what its production staff comes up with. Its bond with its viewers depends upon those viewers believing that what they’re getting, regardless of ideological bent, is a factually accurate accounting of the matter.
But controversies like these three destroys all that. How can we possibly trust, or accept as accurate, what we see on MSNBC’s air when its production department is either apparently editing video in a selective manner or acquiring selectively edited video from parts unknown but not bothering to fact check it? We can’t.
We can’t even tell if any corrective action has taken place, though these repeated incidents strongly suggests that none has. The network then compounds this problem with evasive statements that skirt the central issue to the point that it’s not any more believable than when Hannity & Colmes production staff says its selectively edited video wound up looking that way because of “time constraints”. Nobody bought that explanation then. Nobody is buying these explanations now. They just aren’t credible.
Update: I have to slap Byers’ wrists. He did not include the full context to MSNBC addressing the issue. TVNewser did get the other half…
At the end of the clip, Melber said, “Martin and many other who is saw Mr. Heslin’s testimony have called that interruption heckling. Some disagree. He wanted you to hear it in full so you can draw your own conclusion.”
I present the other half, not only to provide the full context as should be given as a matter of course, but because it raises a very obvious question: If Bashir “wanted you to hear it in full so you can draw your own conclusions”, why didn’t he insist on airing it in full the first time? Sorry Martin, but your thinking isn’t making sense to me…
‘Happy shops don’t leak. Unhappy shops leak’ A former high ranking cable news executive once told me that. I thought about that as I was reading the latest unauthorized news coming out of CNN via FishbowlDC.
Another network insider with a vantage point to this morning’s meeting said it was hilarious to watch Jautz and Feder address the “Starting Point” staff, considering they were two of the main culprits who contributed to the potential demise and dismantling of the show.
From day one, “Starting Point” was in disarray, according to multiple sources aware of the drama going on behind the scenes of the show. It wasn’t supposed to debut in January, 2012, but the decision was made to rush it on the air to coincide with the Iowa caucus. From its launch the show was never fully staffed; all the promises of branding and promotion never materialized; and the constant executive in-fighting over what to do with the show angered its host and staff.
Former CNN Managing Editor Mark Whitaker, who announced his resignation Tuesday, loved the panel format because he desired the show to have the same buzz as MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” But Jautz hated the panel, resulting in it being downsized from 7-9 a.m. to 7:30 to 9 a.m. And when Soledad was off, the panel was only on from 8-9 a.m.
Jautz also detested a single-anchor format. He preferred a two-anchor format, even going as far as focus-group testing Brooke Baldwin and John Berman when O’Brien was away.
So as Whitaker and Jautz waged a constant battle over who would control the destiny of CNN – a scenario set up by then-CNN President Jim Walton when he divided up the duties of Jon Klein when he was canned – “Early Start” and “Starting Point” were ground zero for their battle.
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple writes about MSNBC doing some creative editing…
MSNBC is reviewing its portrayal of the testimony of Neil Heslin, the father of a Sandy Hook victim, at a legislative hearing in Hartford on Monday. The 33-second video clip in question, embedded above, features a graphics box saying “Mocked and Loaded. Sandy Hook Victim’s Father Heckled by Gun Rights Advocates.”
“We’re reviewing the video in question,” says an MSNBC source.
Smart move, considering that Heslin wasn’t, in fact, heckled. Audience members merely answered a challenge that Heslin posed from the microphone.
Wemple says that MSNBC is “reviewing the video in question”. They better. And they better have a good explanation for why it happened and why it will not happen again.
Martin Bashir’s show, which is your basic partisan opinion show, aired the cut up clip. Other opinion shows, like Lawrence O’Donnell’s referenced the cut up clip and, as Wemple noted, made a weak attempt at redefining the issue by redefining the meaning of “heckled”. It may be time for a rewrite on that.
Ever since Phil Griffin all but gutted news in favor of political POV opinion analysis he’s been hammering home the point about how smart it is. This show is smart. That person is doing smart TV. Our analysis is smart. Regardless of whether you think it really is smart or not, it’s an interesting branding ploy that seems to be working…or at the very least not blowing up in the network’s face.
But incidents like this edited video undermine all the buzz that Griffin is trying to create. How can your network be smart, have smart hosts, have smart guests, have smart analysis, when your production staff is either doctoring video or using doctored video doctored elsewhere for subjects your smart team tackles? You can’t.
Griffin had better realize how this doctored video is a direct threat to his goal for MSNBC. It is why his network must not just pay lip service with “we’re investigating” and hope the ruckus just goes away but to really get to the bottom of this and put in place safegaurds that ensure that it doesn’t happen again. To not do so isn’t very smart.
The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove floats Michael Bass’ name as one who might get tapped to join Team Zucker…
More executive departures and arrivals are in the offing, CNN insiders predicted, and Zucker will likely recruit such longtime loyalists as Michael Bass, a member of Team Zucker at NBC and currently co-executive producer of Katie.
The New York Times’ Brian Stelter sums up CNN’s day of news but offers up a few previously unheard of nuggets. Like this…
Soledad O’Brien, the anchor for the last 12 months, has been widely praised for her political interviews despite the program’s relatively low ratings. The show’s defenders say it never received the internal support and the external marketing it had been promised. They imply that it was not given a chance to succeed.
Uh oh. Someone’s not happy. Read between the lines and it would seem someone on the Starting Point staff or brain trust is squawking out of school and putting the blame on CNN’s upper brass for failing to deliver. Now who would have something to gain from trying to position the story that way?