Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gone Too Far

Gone too far, I don't know how I did it
Gone too far and I hate to admit it
But I spend all my time thinking of you
Gone too far, there's nothing I can do now
Gone too far, it'll work out somehow
But I spend all my time thinking of you.

I should be running a network. Just last week, I said the 4:00 PM hour on MSNBC was the best one on the network during the conventions. Tom Brokaw anchored, and it was delightfully old school. Interesting. Fair. Responsible.

Late Sunday night, MSNBC announced Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann were being dumped as presidential debate and election night anchors. The pair would remain part of the coverage as "commentators." David Gregory anchors.

There were too many complaints, inside and outside the network, that Matthews and Olbermann had gone too far left-- too much Republican bashing, too many pro-Obama sentiments. Apparently, network brass agreed, so Matthews and Olbermann are off the anchor desk.

I have to admit, some of Matthews and Olbermann's early work together was pretty good. Their coverage wasn't dry. It had a bit of an attitude, a spark. It was refreshingly different.

Unfortunately, here's that phrase again, they went too far.

Many, many years ago, while I was a radio news reporter and anchor, I used to fill in as a talk show host. As I was getting ready to walk into the studio for my first try, the program director said the words that have stuck with me to this day: "Remember, there's a difference between opinion and analysis." He was concerned a news reporter would be spouting off his opinions, a potential credibility damaging move.

The talk shows were forgettable, but I remembered the lesson.

Yes, I dance around the line here on the blog.

As for Matthews and Olbermann, it might be too late for more analysis and less opinion.

Matthews suffers from a horrible ailment. He talks too much and listens too little. However, when Matthews tones it down a bit, as he does on his weekly syndicated show, he's very watchable.

Olbermann is an entirely different story. I've talked about "Hey, look at me!" reporters here in the past. Olbermann is more "Hey, listen to how clever I can be." It gets old-- fast. Olbermann has been through more jobs than I have-- and that says a lot.