The Insider is addicted to morning television, but she’s also verrrrrrrry finicky about her morning television.
She avoids, like the proverbial plague, any show whose hosts (usually male) seem bent not on telling her what’s happening in the world or how they feel about it, but how she should feel about it.
Starting the day under the thumb of someone who starts his (or her) day with the presumption that he is right and anyone who doesn’t accept that is wrong-headed reminds The Insider of too many marriages and relationships she has known. How’s that for a revelation that explains soooooo many things, huh?
So it wasn’t until last Friday, when Joe Scarborough was hundreds of miles away from the MSNBC territory that houses his studio, that The Insider finally was able to watch an entire “Morning Joe,” the show with which MSNBC is filling the old “Imus in the Morning” timeslot.
Yes, Mr. Scarborough has refashioned himself as less doctrinaire of late, but he’s still too in love with his every word and thought to make him someone with whom The Insider wants to start her day.
Willie Geist was holding down the fort in the on-set company of Renaissance man John Ridley (author, screenwriter, graphic novelist) and MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski.
Mr. Geist, who can be inhumanely caustic in his sardonic segments about media on “Tucker,” was lower-key and almost likable, except during the segments when Mr. Scarborough called in from his chicken-surrounded double-wide on the Redneck Riviera (his characterization, certainly not The Insider’s) and when Tucker Carlson called in standing in his kitchen in his boxer shorts (see previous disclaimer).
Mr. Ridley is a mellow bomb thrower who slyly takes aim at the left and the right from the center of his not-so-predictable road. He won The Insider’s heart when he suggested that Al Gore, whose son’s pharmacopious drug arrest was not curtailing his prepwork/promotion for what Mr. Ridley called the “Live Hypocrisy Concert,” ought to be hugging his son, not the Earth.
Ms. Brzezinski is a competent TV newswoman and wannabe-so-much-more-but-won’t-be-for-reasons-too-numerous-to-belabor-here. Ms. Brzezinski defended Mr. Gore repeatedly. “What if the [Gore] kid wants nothing to do with him? … He goes to see the kid because we’re all saying it because it’s a PR move?” Speaking like the child of power that she is (dad was Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew), she zipped right past the parental thing to do and landed at the political thing to do.
Perhaps most telling was an exchange between Mr. Ridley and Ms. Brzezinski.
He suggested there was so much more than met the gimlet eye to Ms. Brzezinski’s too-ballyhooed June 26 “insurrection” on “Morning Joe” in which she refused to read her script about the release of Paris Hilton from jail—and then tried to burn the script before finally shredding it.
Remember, please, that this is a woman who first joined MSNBC in 2000 on “HomePage,” a midday show that tried to appeal to women by perching the trio of feminanchors on the anchor desk. This also is a woman who carefully combs long bangs over her forehead and then spends most of her time on-camera slooooowly finger-combing the bangs first off and then back onto her face—a face that seemed so perfectly refreshed when she returned to MSNBC as a fill-in several months after leaving CBS News that, if The Insider weren’t so old and overweight as to make it pointless, she’d ask for the name of Ms. Brzezinski’s, um, uh, “skin doctor.”
When it was noted that the clip of the Howard Beale-lite bit had been played more than 2 million times on YouTube, Mr. Ridley ribbed: “You just happened to have a lighter in your pocket, and the shredder just happened to be nearby. I love that real journalism works out like that.”
To which Ms. Brzezinski retorted: “It started out real, and then it became a statement.”
This woman is a danger to herself without a script.