Ed Driscoll

Putting The PMS Into MSNBC

Of the ongoing catfight between the hosts of MSNBC (with the shrapnel frequently hitting even the guests), Rebecca Dana of the Wall Street Journal writes, “Since the start of the Democratic National Convention, ratings have exploded for the cable news channel MSNBC. So have tensions among the network’s top anchors”:

In an uncomfortable moment Tuesday night, an exhausted-looking “Hardball” host Chris Matthews shouted at a producer (“I’ll wrap in a second!”) before a stilted exchange with “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann, in which the two argued about who was talking out of turn. Mr. Olbermann made a flapping-lips hand gesture, and Mr. Matthews took umbrage. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sat quietly on-screen, waiting to be interviewed.

That incident followed a seven-minute back-and-forth Tuesday afternoon between “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough and network correspondent David Shuster. Mr. Scarborough, a former Republican representative from Florida, accused Mr. Shuster, a registered independent, of taking a “cheap shot” by mentioning his party affiliation. Mr. Scarborough sarcastically added: “I feel so comforted by the fact that you’re an independent. I bet everyone at MSNBC has ‘independent’ on their voting cards.”

Since the early days of CNN’s “Crossfire,” cable news has relied on strong personalities to keep drama high and viewers tuned in throughout the day, when news isn’t always exciting enough to keep the audience’s attention. Passionate debate can make for great television — and terrific ratings.

But some found this level of personal bickering hard to watch.

“My reaction to that is: ‘Grow up!’ They have to just grow up,” said Connie Chung, a former MSNBC host and former co-anchor of “CBS Evening News.”

Tough to argue with–particularly when it’s coming from the woman who gave us this moment of adult, sophisticated cabaret entertainment.

(Which also aired on–but of course!–MSNBC.)