Chait in Salem Village: We agree with Melissa Harris-Perry on one basic point. We had problems with Jonathan Chait’s recent cover piece too!
The piece appeared in New York magazine. In our view, it’s fuzzy, poorly explained.
Most significantly, we think it relies on some very fuzzy “academic” research. Liberals shouldn’t put their blind faith in professors! After Sunday morning’s performance, no one understands this fact any better than Jonathan Chait!
Here’s how the dunking went down. Let’s try to appreciate the unintentional humor:
At 11 AM Eastern, the analysts snapped to attention. Midway through her two-hour program, Harris-Perry said her interview with Chait would be coming up next.
Chait had written a cover piece about some aspect of race in the Obama years. As it turned out, Harris-Perry didn’t much like the piece, which is fine with us, since we didn’t like it much either.
We liked her Salem Village approach even less. Here’s how the dunking went down:
The analysts urgently shushed each other when Harris-Perry came back. But good God! Before she introduced Chait, she offered a long denunciation of what her guest had said.
Her pre-denunciation of Chait ran a full six minutes. We don’t think we've seen that before.
Let’s be fair. When Harris-Perry finally introduced Chait, he didn’t have his arms drawn back in the pose of a Chinese convict.
But when he spoke, we’ll have to admit—we had thought the same darn thing as we waited for him to come on:
HARRIS-PERRY (4/13/14): And it is in that spirit that I [finally] welcome now from Washington, D.C., the author of the New York magazine cover article, Jonathan Chait.“Several” minutes? At some point, Chait must have dozed off! Those “several” minutes were six!
Jonathan, thank you for being here this morning.
CHAIT: Thanks, and thanks for introducing your audience with such an open mind! I’ve really never seen a television show where the host berates and rebuts the person they’re having on the show for several minutes before they’re invited on.
That aside, we’ll have to admit it! We had already thought the very same things Chait said. We’ve never seen a guest forced to wait six minutes while his host pre-denounced him and his work.
Harris-Perry’s introduction ran a full six minutes. Her subsequent interview with Chait ran roughly 6:30. Harris-Perry spoke more than Chait.
As such, in a segment which ran almost thirteen minutes, Chait spoke roughly 600 words! Then, the real dunking began.
For her next two segments, Harris-Perry had assembled a panel of four village goodies. They took turns denouncing Chait.
Chait was no longer present, of course, so no rebuttal or debate was possible. We’ve been told he was in the stocks, although we can’t confirm it.
On and on the goodies went—and no, their complaints weren’t all that sharp. Three of the guests were professors.
As usual, that didn’t help.
In the three segments in question, Harris-Perry devoted 26 minutes of air time to Chait’s piece. Chait was allowed to say 600 words.
During the vast bulk of the denunciation, he wasn’t permitted to speak.
Make no mistake! Harris-Perry had assembled a panel designed for an old-fashioned dunking. Everyone said and thought the same things. Just like in olde Salem Village, the panel had been pre-selected to guarantee no dissent.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some of the comments by the professors, who weren’t especially sharp. But this was a good old fashioned witch trial. The goodies gathered on the green to cleanse the village of evil.
Can this possibly be the way a liberal news channel should function? What is gained when all five panelists say the same things, with the accused in the stocks?
We agree with Harris-Perry on one key point—in our view, the piece in question isn’t Chait’s best. That said, does anyone really want to return to the methodology of those famous old witch trials?
Tomorrow: The professors’ complaints
Twenty-six minutes of viewing: To watch Chait interviewed, click this. Though you'll have to wait a while.
To watch the professors’ first segment, click here. For their next segment, click this.