Early in Charles Pierce's pretty much spot-on polemic against deficit hysteria and the activist fraud that calls itself "Fix the Debt" and the coy hypocrisy of one of its steering-committee members who also profits as a board member of tax-avoiding and thus deficit-boosting General Electric, he notes:
[I]t's necessary to point out that, among other things, GE owns a big part of liberal cable-teevee network MSNBC. I wanted to get that in because it's been about 28 minutes since Lawrence O'Donnell reminded me that he went to Harvard, worked in the Senate, and did some time in Hollywood, and I hate to interrupt.
Ouch. But Pierce has another sharp and equally valid point to make here, even if he doesn't make it: Hosting a cable-network news program is often an excellent professional route by which otherwise distinguished careers promptly de-professionalize themselves. Hosts are commonly chosen by networks such as MSNBC for their political knowledge and experience, yet their metamorphosis from analytical maven to egotistical buffoon is, frequently, as complete as it is prompt.
Some are organically hopeless, namely, the hustler Rev. Al and the befuddled Ed Schultz, who are such offensive blights on even a stabbing semblance of network news as to merit simply the averting of one's eyes and trusting that they'll soon go away. Others, though, are something of a pity to watch as they professionally deteriorate: O'Donnell's ... emphatically ... delivered ... diatribes; Bashir's nearly instantaneous shift from journalist-moderator to schoolyard sarcasm vendor; Maddow's Hey, look at me, I'm so clever and gosh darnit just morally righteous to a fault--yet what else can the idealistically perfect do?
There are, and all of you know them, people who should never be given a badge and a uniform, since trinkets and cloaks of authority will go straight to their swelling heads. Network camera-time, too, should be dispensed with discretion.