I like The Rachel Maddow Show a lot. I watch it most days. I think she not only does very good work, but but often great, important work. I do tend to record it so that I can fast-forward through the parts she's reported before, or through the long history lessons she's given that I know, or the repeating of a point four times to make sure you get it. I understand her doing that, and I'm okay with it -- but that doesn't mean I have to listen to it regularly, which is why God invented the fast-forward button.
But every once she goes off the rails. And last night was one of those.
With ALL the news stories to cover today -- the 11 murders at the Pittsburgh synagogue, the 14 pipe bombs that got mailed, the two murders at a grocery store when the killer couldn't get in a black church, Trump trying to claim he could sign a racist executive order to rewrite the Constitution, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi which Turkish authorities expanded that day, the 400 immigrant children still separated from their parents, and much, much, much more -- and it being only week before the mid-term elections, I thought it was irresponsible of the show last night to spend 23 MINUTES on their LEAD STORY being about Dodge City, Kansas voter suppression, which largely repeated an story she's been covering repeatedly for the past week.
Some added perspective. A one-hour primetime TV show has about 44 minutes of content. For a news show on MSNBC, it might be different. But that's the ballpark. So, that means that when you open with a 23-minute segment, that's not a-third of your hour show...it's HALF. Half of The Rachel Maddow Show was devoted to a lead story they've covered repeatedly for the past week and even longer.
It's not that it wasn't a good story or an important one. It's significant But this wasn't a breaking story, which is what you generally have as the lead -- they'd covered the story regularly all week. It wasn't even particularly an extension of the story with significant new details, which also generally justifies sometime being a lead story. In fact, If they wanted to give the story another 23 minutes and put it on later in the broadcast -- that would have been too much, but really okay. Indeed, if they wanted it to be the lead story -- that would be fine, too, but for 10 minutes for anything that was new to report. But...not 23 MINUTES as the lead story they've covered repeatedly -- and with SO MUCH else going on, especially as the election date nears...including other major stories of voter suppression, not just in a town with 27,000 people but like in the entire state of Georgia, North Dakota and Indiana, for starters.
And I suspect because they devoted SO much landscape as their lead story last night, they'll feel compelled to give it even more precious air time tonight, with a long follow-up. And beyond.
It's a good story. It's an important story. But this was out of perspective.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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