Ron Rosenbaum

Mika Brzezinski: New News Star Will Make You Forget Katie Couric and Her Problems

When last we spoke on this site, before technical issues (largely due to my digital backwardness) interrupted blogging I was talking about Paris Hilton coverage and Anderson Cooper’s hypocritical take on it.


In the interim there has been a fascinating development you may not be aware of if you’re not one of the two million or so people who saw Mika Brzezinksi’s Paris Hilton conscientious objection YouTube clip.

Ms. B. shares the loosey-goosey, often unpredictable, sometimes surprisingly savvy and funny MSNBC Imus-replacement gaggle known as “Morning Joe” (after it’s nominally presiding figure Joe Scarborough, a kind of laid-back but clued-in self deprecating clown). The show, with its cast of irregulars including John Ridley and Billy Geist has turned out to be my morning aural wallpaper of choice (6-9 a.m.EDT). What makes it fun is it’s knowing, cynical (dare I say hip) attitude toward the rest of the media business. It’s almost like a tv-news critique tv news show.

Mika B., you may or may not be aware, is the daughter of Zbigniew B. the former secretary of state under Jimmy Carter, hard nosed anti-communist Cold Warrior and more recently Iraq war critic–an undeniably intelligent figure but not someone widely known for his wit and charm. But his daughter has inherited the intelligence and developed her own appealing blend of wit and charm and playfulness which she manages to combine with a kind of understated gravitas amidst the chaos of the “Morning Joe” broadcast.


To my mind she’s developed into the most watchable new personality in the universe of tv news. At at time when everyone is focussed on the troubles of Katie Couric, and making it seem to be an issue of gender, Mika B. demonstrates that it’s not a woman problem, it’s a Katie problem .Mika B. seems so comfortable in her own skin in a slightly geeky but attactive way, she makes it clear the Katie Couric problem i’s not about the rights of women but the right woman and the right attitude.

I’m conflicted: I hope someone smart in the tv news biz makes her a star rather than a sidekick, although if that were to happen I’d miss the chemistry of the MSNBC morning show.

Her official responsibility is to be a newsreader, but give Scarborough credit: in the non-format format that he’s allowed to evolve he’s allowed her to become a principal player, sometimes a foil for the boys but often a smart assertive voice of wit and reason.

What may have been her breakthrough moment occurred the morning after
Paris Hilton’s release from jail. When Mika B. was called upon to read the “news” about the release she took out a Bic lighter and tried to set the pages she was supposed to read on fire. She just refused to read it. When she had trouble getting the lighter to work, she crumpled the offending pages up and eventually put them through a shredder.


There was a bit of grandstanding to it, but when have you see anything like that on tv news. Open rebellion against celebrity schlock! Instead of Anderson Cooper’s smirking complicity in Paris Hilton p.r. machinery, trying to show us by strenuously rolled eyes that he was SO much better than this, despite doing it anyway, Mika B. made a statement. You can se it on the following YouTube clip:

People loved it, two million downloads and counting. A star is born! One has the feeling there’s so much more to her than this salutary moment of rebellion but it suggests that people are hungering for someone to make a gesture like that.If it serves to bring her to the attention of a larger audience more power to her. And one hopes, more visibility too. She makes me look forward to waking up.

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