I am a keen news follower and I have, at various times, commented on the fact that I appreciate Chris Matthews’ Hardball and his approach. You always have a pretty good idea of his views (left-leaning Catholic Democrat from PA) but he is ruthlessly fair about going after his guests, regardless of their political position. In the last year his support for Obama has become more obvious, but I think he has remained fair. Keith Olbermann, on the other hand…well, he daily attacks Bill O’Reilly (fair enough) without ever realizing that he is the Big Head’s Dopplegänger.
After a series of rather prominent conflicts on set during the DNC and then the entire RNC crowd chanting (in not a nice way) “NBC” the mothership has removed the more vocal hosts from anchoring election coverage. The former event was documented by the Daily Show, that paragon of news reporting. Now everyone (NYTimes, NPR, AP) is reporting that NBC Universal has pulled Matthews, Olbermann, and Scarborough from covering the election directly and replaced them with more staid (not necessarily more evenhanded, let’s be honest) folks like David Gregory. The NYTimes has the best quote of them all.
In interviews, 10 current and former staff members said that long-simmering tensions between MSNBC and NBC reached a boiling point during the conventions. “MSNBC is behaving like a heroin addict,” one senior staff member observed. “They’re living from fix to fix and swearing they’ll go into rehab the next week.”
What I am disapointed to see is that Chris Matthews is lumped in with Olbermann. He does not deserve that. This is the third presidential campaign since we have returned to the States and I have enjoyed having Matthews’ views and criticism of guests during each. Matthews should, and maybe will, have his seat restored once Olbermann, Scarborough, Buchanan, and Maddow are relegated to the pundit pool.
The bottom line: We all miss Tim Russert.