Tapping Brokaw to replace Russert is a smart move

NBC announced today that Tom Brokaw will host the Sunday morning show “Meet the Press” at least through the November election. That was a very shrewd decision.

A former longtime evening news anchor, Brokaw has more than enough stature for the job.

Equally important, Brokaw can help the network repair some of the damage that was done by MSNBC commentators who were biased against Hillary Clinton during the primaries.

Here’s Brokaw bluntly criticizing the way some of his colleagues covered the race:

“It was inappropriate, for journalists especially, to try to cut the process short,” NBC News’ anchor emeritus, Tom Brokaw, told The Associated Press. “It was an appropriate issue for people to report on, in context, but there was an awful lot of commentary disguised as reporting that gave the impression that people were trying to shove her out of the race.”

Brokaw’s old-school attitude often put him at odds with Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann when he joined them for primary night coverage on MSNBC this year. One example was last Tuesday. Brokaw was talking about the contrasts between McCain and Obama when Olbermann interjected about “a third one trying to shoehorn her way” into the coverage.

“Well, I think that’s unfair, Keith,” Brokaw replied. “I don’t think she shoehorned her way in. When you look at the states that she won and the popular vote that she piled up, and the number of delegates that she has on her side, she’s got real bargaining power in all of this.”

Brokaw called all the discussion about Clinton’s exit a product of “too much time and too little imagination.”

This recent profile of “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann in the New Yorker quotes Brokaw several times as having doubts about the commentary on MSNBC. This passage was particularly telling:

Brokaw says he sometimes feels that he has been cast in the role of hall monitor at NBC News; if so, his charges have kept him busy. The day after the New Hampshire primary, Matthews asserted that Hillary Clinton owed her election as senator to public sympathy for her in light of her husband’s sexual peccadilloes. “It was completely out of line,” Brokaw says. “And Keith took it to another level” with his “shut the hell up” commentary.

In March, after Geraldine Ferraro said that Obama would not be where he is if he were not a black man, Olbermann issued a Special Comment that was aimed expressly at Clinton’s advisers (and their countenancing of Ferraro’s “cheap, ignorant, vile racism”) but that struck Clinton nonetheless. “Voluntarily or inadvertently,” Olbermann said, addressing Clinton directly, “you are still awash in this filth.”

Olbermann and Chris Matthews were way out of line with their Hillary-bashing this spring. Because their comments were not isolated incidents, they left a deeper taint on the network than NBC correspondent David Shuster’s offhand remark that the Clinton campaign “pimped out” Chelsea Clinton, which got him suspended.

The New Yorker profile of Olbermann makes clear that network executives were uncomfortable with how antagonistic coverage of Hillary became on “Countdown.”

Picking Brokaw to host “Meet the Press” signals that NBC is not going to let that very influential program tilt strongly in one direction during the general election campaign.

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Keith Olbermann needs to get a clue

Katie Couric stated the obvious, which is that Hillary Clinton had to contend with a lot of sexist media coverage, some of it coming from NBC reporters and commentators.

For that Keith Olbermann calls Couric “the worst person in the world.”

I’ve written before about why Hillary lost the Democratic nomination, and I don’t think sexism was the main reason.

But you have to be blind and deaf not to acknowledge that a lot of sexist coverage and commentary was directed at her, and MSNBC personalities were among the worst offenders:

For a thoughtful analysis of how sexism affected Clinton’s campaign, read this essay by Trapper John.

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