Thursday, August 8, 2013

Observations from the Coffee Shop 8.8

There was a time I watched MSNBC's The Last Word religiously. During last year's election season it was awesome to watch after Rachel. Lawrence O'Donnell always showed he knew the inner workings of the political bubble after having worked in it for years. The show always has the best panel and the fact that Krystal Ball seems to be O'Donnell's favorite panelist never hurt. That time may have passed as lately O'Donnell seems to be following Keith Olbermann's trajectory into smug arrogance. For personal reasons I'm never one to complain about arrogance but if I want arrogance at the expense of intelligent conversation I'll waste my time with Fox News.

Last night O'Donnell outright irritated me.

The opening segment of the show was about President Obama's decision to skip a one on one meeting with Russia's President Putin. There are various reasons for that, Snowden being the obvious fall guy, but that isn't what I'm writing about. I would probably just agree with both sides on this or that point, it's why we debate these things. No I'm writing about O'Donnell's performance during that segment, a performance that reminded me all too much of Bill O'Reilly.

O'Donnell's primary guest for the Russia segment was Julia Ioffe of The New Republic. Why was Ioffe the guest? Probably because she was born in Moscow and has written about Russia in The Columbia Journalism Review, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Foreign Policy, Forbes, as well as The New Republic. Suffice to say O'Donnell didn't agree with Ioffe's assertion that Vladimir Putin isn't nearly as omnipresent as the west gives him credit for (you can watch the segment here). At one point O’Donnell almost shouted, "We’re getting absurd now!" Ioffe answered with a question, "Have you reported out of Russia?" At this point Ioffe's part in the discussion pretty much came to an end. It irritated me not only because of O'Donnell's arrogance but also because I really wanted to hear what Ioffe had to say.

Thankfully this morning I saw this article, "What Lawrence O'Donnell Didn't Let Me Say About Putin." Hopefully you read it. I'll post one part here because it jumped out at me, it's what I think, and it's an opinion O'Donnell totally disagrees with. "Putin does not orchestrate, he reacts. Putin is no chess player. He is a knee-jerk, short-sighted little tyrant. Don't give him credit where credit isn't due." She adds that in her opinion the U.S. totally mishandled the Snowden affair and if they really wanted him back it should have been done quietly. Again I agree but I don't think a man named Glenn Greenwald was or is about to let anything happen quietly.

I may be right or wrong, who knows, but as I wrote on Twitter last night, lately too many journalists make me think of the word hubris.

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