MSNBC Sends Chuck Todd Packing To Early Afternoon. He Won’t Be Missed.

MSNBC has bumped Chuck Todd from the 5 p.m. slot, and there was much rejoicing. Starting August 19, the first day of the virtual Democratic National Convention, Todd's “MTP Daily" will air at 1 p.m. eastern. (I'd recommend watching “Days Of Our Lives" instead.)

Nicolle Wallace's “Deadline: White House," which airs at 4 p.m., will expand to two hours. The former Sarah Palin wrangler is smart, thoughtful, and fully prepared for the job. She treats politics as if real people's lives are at stake. Todd has long rankled me (and everyone) with his “horse race" style journalism. He's also a lousy interviewer, who admitted he was “naive"when he let Kellyanne Conway “alternative fact" her way through interviews. Or when he just sat there while Donald Trump insulted the nation's intelligence.

Todd wasn't just caught flat-footed by the mendaciousness of the Trump crime syndicate. Chuck Todd was always bad at talking to humans and should probably not interact with them professionally.

Check out this interview with Trump from last year, when he'd been president for more than two years and a known scumbag for decades. Todd still takes Trump at face value and doesn't seriously challenge him. No wonder he thought Hillary Clinton was “overprepared" when debating Trump.

Trump To Chuck Todd On Iran Strikes: 'No Planes Were In The Air' | Meet The Press | NBC

President Klan Robe isn't a master of evasion. He just ... lies, and when his narcissistic supply is cut off and his bullshit countered with facts, he crumbles. We've seen it happen during his interviews with Chris Wallace and Axios's Jonathan Swan.

You can't keep a good TV journalist down, and although Todd isn't one, he's gonna be fine. He plans to expand the once-respectable “Meet the Press" into streaming. He wants to launch a weekly program in September that'll air on NBC News Now and Peacock, the NBCUniversal streaming service that promised me original “Law & Order" but only has a few random seasons late in the run. Give me Claire Kincaid or give me death!

Because no one demanded it, Todd will also anchor pre-and-post-event coverage around "big political news nights." Let's get ready to rumble! He's like Howard Cosell but with worse hair. Todd treats politics as a big game, with winners and losers. Although actual sports pundits wouldn't praise a baseball team that hits opposing players in the face with bats as strategic geniuses. They'd actually call out the obvious cheating and double-dealing, which Todd never does.

Back in 2014, Todd wrote a tedious book about Barack Obama called The Stranger(Albert Camus libel!), where he “both sides" all over the place. He blames Obama for not working hard enough to overcome the GOP's open obstruction. He didn't run fast enough on the hamster wheel. Elbert Ventura at the Columbia Journalism Review neatly summed up Todd's absurd criticism.

So why advise Obama to keep ramming into the wall of obstruction again and again? Here another Beltway obsession rears its head: optics. Todd reasons that "you always want to be the one that 'gets caught trying' " (never mind the result). The fixation with optics also comes through in Todd's discussion of Obama's policies. On a range of issues, from the stimulus to healthcare reform to Syria, Todd weighs in on how the process looked, while devoting barely a second's thought to the policy's merits.

When Democrats tried to pass a reasonable COVID-19 relief bill, Todd also focused on the “strategy" and “politics" rather than the actual contents of the bill. If Democrats “held up" the bill because Republicans wanted free money for Trump's buddies, all that mattered were the “optics." This is maddening because a journalist's job is to inform the public, not just enable bad faith political stunts.

But how can anyone inform the public when these are the words they speak in public?

TODD: Look, I think any side that is on the side that looks like they're holding up money, I think, is bad politics ... I think that the Democrats are genuine in their sticking up for the governors here. I think that's what they believe they're doing. I believe they think that you know, Cuomo and Hogan are basically lobbying on their side on this ... They're like we need our money too.

So I think that's what Democrats are calculating, that this is, this is, you know, if you look at it through one eye, it looks like they're holding up small business money. If you look at it through the other one, hey, governors are asking for their money. So I think that's what the Democrats are calculating. I don't know if that's coming to fruition, though.

This sort of cynicism about government only benefits Republicans, who pee in the pool and then run for office on an anti-pool platform. We've had enough of Chuck Todd's brand of political cynicism to last a lifetime.

No more, please.

[Deadline / Columbia Journalism Review]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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