On Tuesday a friend of mine sent me MSNBC's happy press release announcing Democratic pundit and MSNBC part-timer Lawrence O'Donnell as their new 10 p.m. talk show anchor. I was sooo excited that I said to her, "Oh boy! More of the same! My FAVORITE! Goodness knows there just aren't enough white men of a certain age hosting cable news programs!"
MSNBC, love them or hate them, is one of those places where everyone acts like it's this glorious bastion of Rainbow Coalition Liberal political thought delivered fresh daily. And while there is some variety among those who anchor the daily news reports, all the network big money show ponies are different versions of the same white guy ... with Rachel Maddow as the above-average token.
In 2008, for example, the Democratic party had one of the most diverse assortment of wannabe presidents ever. A former First Lady turned Senator. A governor with Latino roots. A biracial black male Senator from Hawaii. And ... um, Joe Biden and John Edwards. But the network that enthusiastically covered these people was front loaded with the same huffy kind of white guy. Entertaining to watch, for sure. It was hilarious to witness Joe Scarborough, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews trying to eat each other's heads while Rachel Maddow was the lone voice of reason. But there's nothing new about a bunch of old white screaming at each other on television.
I realize that in this Age of Obama, there are those who live in FEAR that they will turn on a TV and there WON'T be the slightly bloated face of some random white guy staring at them, telling them what to think. After all, the mish mash of Olbermann-Matthews-O'Reilly-Beck-King-Cooper-the Other King-Hannity-Blitzer-Smith must be preserved by adding more middle age white guys! Imagine how scared some must have been for a few moments when they let that random Maddow woman in. She'd become so popular by being, I don't know, different. But whew! That was just some kind of "Hey, we got one so stop bitching" fluke.
While I'm sure Lawrence O'Donnell is what's hot in the very exclusive, gated-community streets that MSNBC President Phil Griffin lives on, if more than half of the United States is female and you've got a CRAZY PANTS amount of blacks, Latinos and others running around -- many owning televisions and watching them on a regular basis -- it seems a little lame to just do what almost people from the upper echelons of our society do ... sit around and hire their friends.
Did they even bother looking at, auditioning, talking to talent that they had to actually get off their ass and look for? To folks like these, their idea of "diversity" is "He graduated from Brown." And you know that's a safe school and soooo doesn't count. (O'Donnell actually went to Harvard, so he's cool. Heaven forbid someone on television news not have an Ivy League pedigree.)
Rumor has it, that once when called on MSNBC's lack of diversity, Griffin replied that they'd looked for qualified black folks, but ... you know? He just couldn't find any! Of course he said this, allegedly, in front an audience where many minority and female media types were present, but he totally wasn't talking about them. They're cool. Just not cool enough for the 10 p.m. slot.
This story, of course, makes me think of how in 2008 Saturday Night Live auditioned a TON of people to potentially play Obama but ended up going with Fred Armisen's shitty Obama anyway. "There can't POSSIBLY be funny black people," he cried! "I looked, gosh darn it! I looked at my friend's house and went to The Groundlings and hung around Pauly Shore's mom's comedy club and went to parties with those kids from The Lonely Island and there just weren't ANY!!!!"
I swear. All of media is Dick Cheney conducting George W. Bush's vice president hunt, only to look into a mirror and choose himself.
Bollocks, I say.