Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A Very Bizarre Segment from ‘The Last Word’, in Typical Lawrence O’Donnell Style. [With an eventual point, but made by the guest…]

This is such a badly constructed approach by Lawrence O’Donnell. “What is wrong with you?” he asks Anthony Weiner, first thing, which naturally completely flummoxes the interviewee. This is a very strange, highly-combative interview. It’s typical of O’Donnell’s style, he bulldozes his guest, and doesn’t really make any point.

He says Weiner seems incapable of running for public office (a “relentless” pursuit), then effectively tells Weiner off for working as a lobbyist and says he should have done charity work. I did have to smile when told Lawrence to “Chillax, buddy!” Weiner rightly tells Lawrence to ask the question he wants answered.

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“This can’t be good TV for anybody,” Weiner says. Spot on. It was just surreal. Neither man came across well – Lawrence as a bully, who asked a question without bothering to allow his guest to answer it; and Weiner as a frustrated, eventually glib, candidate for mayor of New York. It was, frankly, surreal. And terrible television. The interview continued in a second segment:

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Weiner is, finally, allowed to respond, in the second segment. He picks apart O’Donnell’s premise, too. I can’t but feeling that I could have done a much better job as host of this show. Ari Melber, who has guest-hosted the show from time-to-time, did a much better job, too. Maybe someone needs to tell Lawrence to dial it down a little bit? It’s very strange to see the host act this way, given what he wrote for The West Wing and his oft-stated issues with the right-wing media and Fox News’ aggressive, combative approach to reporting “news”.

Lawrence O’Donnell’s point about Weiner’s belief he isn’t going to lose was infantile and ridiculous. The host says Weiner’s vocal confidence is “proof” of his pathology. Which political candidate ever vocalises doubt, regardless of how obvious their impending defeat may be?

Terrible example of broadcast “journalism”, but a perfect example of media personality bullying. It descended into petty, school-yard sniping. Perhaps it was staged, political theatre? I doubt it.

[Full disclosure: I was Ari Melber’s assigned intern at The Nation for three months at the end of 2012.]

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