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The Cable Gamer has detailed MSNBC's Pro-Obama strategy: Suck up to the Obama Left, and thereby get all the Barack Obama fans to watch as MSNBC-ers (and to a lesser extent, NBC) cheerlead for the O-Man. (That's Obama, not Keith Olbermann, in case you were wondering.) In addition, TCG has noted the unforeseen upside: GE Capital, sister company to MSNBC (as well as to CNBC and NBC) is now on the receiving end of a $139 billion--that's billion with a "b"--federal loan guarantee, as part of the overall Wall Street bailout.
OK, that's the good news for MSNBC.
The bad news is that to implement this strategy, MSNBC had to rely on some loose cannons. Very loose. One such cannon, of course, is Olbermann. And another is Chris Matthews. Any publicly traded corporation--with all the scrutiny, and the presumption of sober seriousness that comes from being the vessel of shareholder ownership--that links its fate to loose cannons will, eventually, find itself blown up.
And Matthews is our case study for today--still busy, as he has been for the past year, trashing Hillary Rodham Clinton.
One can read this item, from The New York Post's "Page Six," and see clear signs of chronic puffing, an early indicator of inevitable inflation, followed by blowing up:
HARDBALL" host Chris Matthews and the other "castratos" at MSNBC shouldn't hold their breath waiting for a Hillary Clinton interview.
Matthews, who once opined that men who supported Clinton were "castratos in the eunuch chorus," forgot the cardinal rule for those who are often mentioned on Page Six - he didn't take a good look around on the Acela train from Philadelphia to Washington Saturday before he started bad-mouthing the New York senator.
An avowed Clinton lover who was sitting next to Matthews reports: "He was in business class wearing a red baseball hat that said Penn on the back, and the fat [bleep] fell asleep on the train and snored with his mouth open."
During the ride to DC, Matthews awoke from his nap. A fellow passenger asked him, "What's the news tomorrow?" - to which Matthews loudly started talking about President-elect Barack Obama possibly picking Hillary as his secretary of state.
"I don't understand it," Matthews bellowed. "Why would he pick her? I thought we were done with the Clintons. She'll just use it to build her power base. It's Machiavellian. And then we'll have Bill Clinton, too. I thought Obama didn't want drama. He's already got [chief of staff Rahm] Emanuel and [transition team leader John] Podesta. He'll have even more drama with her.
"She's just a soap opera. If he doesn't pick her, everyone will say she's been dissed again, we'll have to live through that again."
Now, is it really wise for Matthews to be carrying on the feud against Hillary, even after his man, Obama, has won the nomination and the election? Do the suits at MSNBC, and parents NBC-Universal and GE, really want to keep attacking her--and by implication, all of her supporters? And all of those who don't want to think that a commentator, and his network have been completely captured by one liberal sliver of the population?
The picture of what Matthews actually believes is a bit muddled, however. As "P6" further notes:
Matthews seems to be playing both sides of the fence. The host, who apologized to Clinton last year for claiming she got where she was because "her husband messed around," said on-air last Friday: "Look, I think that since she lost the fight for the nomination, [Clinton] has been not just a good soldier, she has sang the tune of [Obama]. She's been illustrious, she's been admirable . . . her spirit seems to be with him."
A rep for Clinton declined to comment while a rep for Matthews didn't return e-mails.
So which are we to believe, Chris? What you said on the Acela (which squares with what you said on MSNBC air for a year), or what you have said, here and there, since the election? I think that the obvious preponderance of evidence is that Matthews' train talk is the real Matthews.
And that's a problem for MSNBC as it tries to negotiate its way into 2009. Will it be all Obama-olatry all the time? If so, that'll be hard to watch, even for Democrats--especially Hillary Clinton-type Democrats.
And eventually, all those non-Obama Democrats, to say nothing of independents and Republicans, are going to be asking Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, why the rest of us must subsidize the left-liberalism of GE's MSNBC unit.
GE is a bigger company than MSNBC, and there might well be some non-Obamans inside the corporate structure, although of late, you wouldn't know it.
Cross-posted from The Cable Game