Friday, November 23, 2012

Up with Chris Hayes continues to impress

I've been deeply depressed by the flagrant lack of balance (not bias!) in our media's handling of Gaza. I don't expect much, but to watch clips from CNN turns my stomach. But I found a little refuge from a source that's established itself as one of the real bright spots for journalism and commentary in any medium, Up with Chris Hayes.

For a guy with my politics, being impressed by a national news program is a rare experience. I can't, of course, extract my admiration for the show's substance and willingness to look beyond typical media narratives from my compatibility with the show's politics. But I hope that even those to my right could find something to admire in the way that the show looks beyond the usual cast of pundits and politicos for its segments, for its willingness to entertain political ideas for outside of the American mainstream, and for its rigor. I've particularly admire the way the show has criticized Obama from the left, how it exposed Andrew Cuomo as a cynical politician who is no friend to liberals or progressives, Hayes's brave stance towards the use of the word "hero" to refer to any and all soldiers, and the aforementioned skeptical consideration of the Israeli position on Gaza, among other things. I don't agree with everything that's said by Hayes, but I am consistently amazed at what they get away with on cable news. If you don't watch it, you should, whether on cable or on the website.


Roger Burgess said...

I agree. MSNBC is currently putting out some of the best political talk-shows around.

Chris Hayes' show and Maddow's show are top notch, for different reasons. Hayes' is the wonkiest show on TV and Maddow is an absolute master of "I'm just a simple person with simple understanding," style rhetorical magic. I could listen to her all day.

tonycpsu said...

Many moons ago when Rachel was subbing in for Olbermann (who I watched pretty regularly, but was pretty tired of by that point because... you know... it's Olbermann) I could barely contain my excitement at the fact that an actual real-life liberal was on the teevee. In my wildest dreams, I thought that maybe if the ratings were good, she could get her own show, and maybe MSNBC would see the value of liberal programming. But a show like Up, even in a relatively worthless timeslot? Inconceivable!

I think the format is ideal. Having two hours to tackle one or two major topics with a panel of experts in that area means you get a level of depth you just can't find anywhere else. And the fact that it's on the weekends means that they don't have to chase whatever the story of that day is -- they can let a topic percolate for a few days and have time to book guests that will have something interesting to say.

It seems like any time there's a topic in the leftosphere I want more info on, there's at least a half hour of it on Chris's show. And, frankly, I actually like that he brings right-of-center types on occasionally, because it rarely degrades into a Crossfire-style shoutfest. (Though I hope they lose Elise Jordan's phone number permanently -- she's dreadful.)

The MHP show follows a similar format, and I love Melissa's focus on education, poverty, etc. but I don't think she gets quite the same caliber of guests, so the product isn't quite as enjoyable.

ohtarzie said...

Keep your expectations low and you shall not be disappointed.

If you're going to mention the 'hero' thing as a high point, you might want to include the disgusting apology that came the next day.

Hayes is a shill for the Democratic Party in smarter packaging. Maddow is beneath serious discussion.

tonycpsu said...

Ah, so I guess a media landscape devoid of left-of-center perspectives is superior to one with insufficiently left-of-center perspectives.

Good to know.

ohtarzie said...

"Ah, so I guess a media landscape devoid of left-of-center perspectives is superior to one with insufficiently left-of-center perspectives."

I do so love when the logic of duopoly is applied to realms where there is an array of choices.

Also, when people say things that aren't rebuttals but just variations on 'Shut Up'

You and MSNBC are perfect for each other.

tonycpsu said...

An array of choices exists online and in print, but where on the television dial do we go to find someone to the left of Chris Hayes on virtually any issue? You have to compete in all formats if you want to create better policy outcomes. A media universe without Hayes and Maddow is one where Joe Scarborough is considered centrist and perhaps Chris Matthews is a lefty. How you like them apples?

ohtarzie said...

Well we could go back and forth on the impact of cable news on policy outcomes but that would be boring and inconclusive. We could also argue over whether the kind of liberal gatekeeping taking place under GE/Comcast auspices is good or bad for the left as a whole. You think it obviously is. I don't. Agree to disagree.

So let's stick with the plain statement of fact: Chris Hayes is a shill for the Democratic Party. This is not at all incompatible with the assertion that, yes, his talk show is better than most. In fact, it makes his shilling extra effective.

tonycpsu said...

I think having a major TV outlet putting progressive ideas out there is a good thing -- full stop. The fact that Kabletown execs get to shape the message if they want to is a necessary evil. The net result is positive -- having an imperfect vehicle like MSNBC providing prominent air time to liberal ideas is worth the downside risk of the Comcast suits deciding to intervene.

Hayes attacks Obama often from the left. He has had many guests critical of the kill list and drones on regularly (Scahill, Hastings just to name a couple.) He regularly has members of Occupy on to hit Obama for being too easy on the banksters. He's pretty much had a 50/50 split of those who favor our Israel-oriented middle east policy and those who oppose it. That's what you call a shill?

ohtarzie said...

"That's what you call a shill?"

No what I call a shill is someone who, after taking stock of all those things Hayes attacks from the left on, insists that 'Obama can truly be one of America's greatest presidents' and who puts the full weight of his alleged expertise in oligarchs toward the idiotic campaign idea that only one above-the-law oligarch was running for president. This, for instance, is shilling of the most disingenous kind.

Also, I think 'regularly' greatly overstates the extent of Hayes service to 'progressive ideas' and attacks from the left. Look at this crap:

He's better than most. We can agree on that. We'll continue to differ on what a net good that is.

tonycpsu said...

Yeah, I cringed during that "Romney broke the super-secret rules of the debate" bit. I do think you're cherry-picking, though. Ms. "Beneath Serious Discussion" reined him in right after he said that, and he did admit that both sides broke the rules. If that's the most shill-y thing he does on the air, I'll take it.

ovaut said...

should i read chris hayes' book?

tonycpsu said...

I liked the book a lot, but I also agree with many of Freddie's critiques of it.

ביקורות said...

One of my favourite books! Everyone should read it.

Freddie said...

You should definitely read his book.

Alexios said...

I'm so glad you feel that way about Chris Hayes' show. I agree nearly 100% -- my only quibble is that I think you probably can extricate your admiration and support for the show from your politcal disposition (although that no doubt adds to both). Perhaps you disagree, but what's so refreshing about the show for me are two things:

1) The intellectual honesty Hayes exhibits -- he's as likely to rebut a guest that shares his viewpoint as not when that guest says something factually inaccurate, intellectually disengenuous, or merely argumentatively weak.

2) The wide range of perspectives he intentionally seeks to have represented on his panels. This is part of the reason your politicaI views are represented as well as they are on his show. I would guess, for example, that Jeremy Scahill (a frequent guest) more closely represents your foreign policy views than does Hayes (not a huge difference, but I'd guess that Hayes is not as absolutist about non-intervention; if I'm wrong about that, I'm sure there's a better example that makes the same point).

Of course, Hayes' politcal views and the format of the show are both great contributors to why the show is so worthy of watching. But without the range of view and intellectual honesty of Hayes as a moderator, I think the show would not be nearly as worthwhile. Small but important points, IMO.