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Rise of The Unaccomplished

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Hosting a daily talk radio show means I have to follow the news regularly. It’s my job. Luckily it’s also what I love doing and have been doing since high school. But lately it has seemed more like work because, to find news, you have to sift through a lot of garbage and uninformed opinions.

I’ve been called a lot in my life. Most is accurate if not suitable for print. But nothing elicits a faster response from me than to be called “journalist.” I am not a journalist, I am a columnist. It’s an important distinction that used to exist but that seems to blur more each day – to the detriment of a well-informed population.

That’s why I take issue with what my friend Matt Lewis recently wrote at the Daily Caller. Lewis says conservatives should be actively promoting young policy wonks of their own to combat what’s happening at MSNBC. But what’s happening at MSNBC is an unmitigated disaster, not only for ratings, but for blurring the line between journalism and simply making stuff up.

Blame this on cable news. The 24-hour news cycle means all of the networks must do more in less time than ever before. As a result, journalistic integrity has suffered some at all the networks, but none more so than MSNBC.

Even MSNBC used to fill the time with politicians and newsmakers in Washington talking about the news of the day, coupled with participants in news stories from around the country.

More importantly, MSNBC was a place where journalists possessed first-hand information and institutional knowledge of the organizations they were covering. The congressional reporters, for instance, had experience actually covering Congress. They had cultivated sources, broken stories and earned credibility.

Over time, as their credibility accrued, they moved to the “pundit” side of the news, where they offered insights based on experience and an insider’s perspective of the day’s happenings.

They may have had an agenda, but they also had inside information. And their motivation was to deliver the truth. And that enabled them to earn respect, sources and credibility on both sides.

That day is done.

Cable news today has gone from a source of reliable information to a pep rally for an agenda – facts be damned. Sure, it may appeal to younger people to some degree, but that veil of lies is easily peeled back by anyone who dares to stray from the MSNBC uniformity-of-thought plantation.

Facts remain the antidote to progressive lies, and journalism and legitimate punditry the kryptonite of the progressive echo chamber – regardless of the age of the person on the screen.

But MSNBC doesn’t go that route. Its airtime is occupied not by journalists with solid credentials and impeccable integrity but by children offering their opinions of the work of real journalists. They have no more credibility, no more track record of integrity, no more reason to take their opinions seriously than the weird drunk guy at the end of your local bar.

MSNBC’s “star,” as it is, is Rachel Maddow. But Maddow’s background isn’t in journalism, it’s in public policy. She’s an activist, which is perfectly fine. But she, at least according to both her Wikipedia page and her NBC website bio, has no real world experience that would give her any insight or perspective into what she advocates for other than having read books and talked to people about it. She pontificates with the authority of the NBC News brand without anything beyond the theoretical as a first-hand basis for it. (Naturally, she’s been showered with awards from her fellow liberal “journalist” types, in spite of having a record of “difficulty” with facts.)

Maddow has been doing this for a while, so she at least has a base of knowledge from which to draw. But the “future” of MSNBC is a kiddie pool that is a mile-wide and an inch deep.

MSNBC has a show called “The Cycle” which is hosted by a string of unaccomplished nobodies who, taken together or separately, display a massive lack of credibility.

Touré Neblett, who seems to a taken a tip from Madonna and ditched his last name, has a background in privileged private school, writing about music and working as a “cultural critic,” which seems to be limited to crying racism with every exhale. Compelling.

Krystal Ball’s only accomplishment is an embarrassing loss in a failed run for Congress. Honestly, that seems to be it. After that, Ball started appearing on cable news as a “Democratic Consultant,” which is code for “we could book them easily.” Fascinating.

Abby Huntsman is the attractive daughter of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. I’ve just listed her entire professional career before entering the media. I wish I were joking, but I’m not. She’s the child of an incredibly wealthy liberal Republican, she calls herself a Republican, but like Meghan McCain, doesn’t seem to understand anything about it. Enthralling.

Ari Melber is an anomaly on the show (and the network). He has actually worked in government and written about it for some time. That’s why, even though I disagree with him, his insights are at least informed by experience.

The contributors at MSNBC are a clown car’s worth of unaccomplished, fresh-faced buffoons given credibility by proxy.

Joy-Ann Reid is managing editor of The Grio, a regular on MSNBC and an occasional panelist on Meet the Press. The Grio bills itself as “the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets.” I didn’t realize news had a race, but then I’m not a progressive. The Grio is also owned by NBC News, which explains why someone with no real first hand knowledge of which she speaks would be on Meet the Press. Cross promotion is big at NBC News now. It also explains why Meet the Press has become the basement dweller in Sunday show ratings.

Ronan Farrow is the son of Mia Farrow and either Woody Allen or Frank Sinatra or someone else (when the list of possible fathers grows past one, who can tell?). His work history involves landing a job with his mom’s friend – it just so happens his mom is friends with Hillary Clinton. Being born to famous parents and having worked in the State Department under possibly the worst Secretary of State in history has qualified Farrow for his own show on MSNBC, starting soon. You really can’t make this stuff up.

Then there’s Washington Post “wunderkind Ezra Klein. Klein’s background includes working on Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign in Vermont (that worked out well) and blogging at various left-wing outfits. With that on his resume, how could he not be a star? Klein revels in lecturing people who’ve studied their fields for decades with the arrogance found only in people who’ve never done it, and falls on his face often.

But he’s still presented as credible by both the Post and MSNBC because he works for them. To be clear: Ezra Klein does not work at the Washington Post and MSNBC because he has any level of credibility, he has what little credibility he does because he works at The Washington Post and MSNBC. That’s the antithesis of how media used to work and the real world works outside of media.

The same goes for all of these people and most of MSNBC’s on-air “talent.”

The only thing they have going for them, and the only reason any of them are on TV, is they don’t make you want to vomit when you look at them, on mute at least. Had any of them had to work their way up through the ranks of the news business they may well have become someone with a base of knowledge and experience worthy of being taken seriously.

That’s why I take issue with my friend Matt Lewis and his belief that conservatives should promote their own young wonk talent. Let them season, let them accomplish and earn their way. It’s already happening some at Fox News, and to a lesser degree CNN, and I hope it stops. The key to appealing to younger Americans isn’t having an uninformed person their own age regurgitating talking points with their own oh-so-wise-and-snarky “spin.” It’s having people who’ve been there and know what they’re talking about tell them in a non-stuffed-shirt way.

Cream, as the old saying goes, rises to the top. But MSNBC and progressive punditry prove what I’ve been saying for years; Yes, cream rises to the top, but sometimes crap floats too.

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