Part 1—Major star vouches for car: This evening, at 6 PM Eastern, an exciting new era begins on The One True Liberal Channel.
Greta Van Susteren debuts tonight as a nightly MSNBC host. She brings her program, On the Record, to The One True Channel, name unchanged, after fourteen years' service at Fox.
What will this new program be like? We have no idea. But last Thursday night, a certain unnamed cable star was vouching rather aggressively for Van Susteren's greatness.
This big "corporate liberal" cable news star was aggressively selling the car. To watch the entire segment in question, you can just click here.
At Media Matters, a cynical writer was trying to say that Van Susteren had been a tool for Donald J. Trump down through those many long years. (For our report on those remarks, you can just click this.) Today, we'll show you what that unnamed cable star was saying about Van Susteren on her eponymous program last Thursday night.
In our view, this unnamed star was gushing rather hard. She started by offering her greatest possible praise. You can tell Van Susteren is great, she said, because she herself has often played videotape of Van Susteren on her own cable show.
Here's how last Thursday evening's Greta-vouching began:
MADDOW (1/5/17): In telling the stories of the day, covering the day's news, on this show, we tend to show a lot of archive footage. I don't know if you saw when we ran our year-end credits this year, there are like five zillion archivists in our credits."I I I I I I I!" Already, our analysts were voicing their patented trill. Then, the vouching for Greta got started:
We love our archivists, we love our archives, we love showing news footage and historical footage from all the way back to the dawn of news.
We play a lot less contemporary news coverage on this show. I know a lot of other shows do it, but I just don't end up showing a lot of, you know, "Here's a thing somebody said on TV last night." It just doesn't come up that often on this show.
MADDOW (continuing directly): One thing I have noticed, though, over the eight years or so that we've been doing this show, is that when I do use contemporary footage, when there's no other way to tell the story without showing you what just happened on somebody else's TV show, that footage disproportionately and by a mile tends to come from one place. It has come from one show, hosted by one particular person, who we've used footage from over and over and over again."Greta Van Susteren is great," the unnamed cable star exclaimed. And how do we know that Van Susteren's great? We know it because the unnamed star has played tape of her down through the years!
[Brief video clips of past exchanges from Van Susteren's program]
If you want to count on your fingers how many times we on this show have played clips of Greta Van Susteren over the years, you could not do it. You need like four extra hands.
And I know everybody thinks that various news outlets and news networks are at each other's throats, particularly between Fox and MSNBC, we must hate each other's guts, but you know what?
Greta Van Susteren is great. She is!
Self-affirming metrics like that are par for the course on this program.
In this case, the self-affirming metric raised an obvious question. Why has the unnamed star played so much tape of Van Susteren? As she continued, the unnamed star explained:
MADDOW (continuing directly): And she has an uncanny ability to make newsworthy things happen when the red light is on the camera and she is on TV talking about the news. She can get anybody to talk to her. She has reported from all over the world. She had a decade at CNN. She had 14 years at Fox.Why has the unnamed star played so much tape from Van Susteren's program? Because "she can get anybody to talk to her." Because "she has an uncanny ability to make newsworthy things happen when the red light is on the camera and she is on TV talking about the news."
She's also, outside this building, one of the single most decent and genuine and honorable people I have ever come across in this business. And this, that I just showed you a minute ago, this is her new studio-to-be, because she starts here at MSNBC, 6 Eastern on Monday night. And I could not be happier about it.
And joining us now from right next to her brand new studio in D.C. is Greta Van Susteren host of For The Record, which launches here on MSNBC, 6 o'clock Monday night.
My friend, congratulations.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, and, [Name Withheld], thank you, that's so kind of you. And I couldn't be happier. I mean, just think about it. I mean, I'm the luckiest person alive.
Outside the building, is Van Susteren "one of the single most decent and genuine and honorable people...in this business?" Leaving the contradiction aside (one of the single most decent people?), it may well be that she is.
(As we noted last week, we've done a few shows with Van Susteren in the past. She was never anything but totally pleasant, helpful, cheerful, upbeat, professional, nice.)
That said, the crucial question about "this business"—about the business these stars have chosen—concerns the way a major star behaves when she's on the air. With that in mind, we're going to let you review some of Van Susteren's work at the Fox News Channel in the course of the next few days.
Brief aside: It's hard to know how the unnamed star knew so much about Van Susteren's work. In earlier years, she has claimed that she doesn't watch other cable news shows. When she was establishing her profile as a star, she routinely insisted that she didn't own a TV set—that she couldn't pown a TV set, because she's such a loser klutz that she'd do nothing but watch TV if she had the chance.
Whatever! The unnamed star was now vouching for Greta's work, and she was vouching quite hard. As the two stars began to chat, we even learned more about their friendship off the air:
VAN SUSTEREN (continuing directly): I mean, look, I have many good friends over at CNN and over at Fox News Channel who have been colleagues too, but just think about this.How lucky can one person be? Van Susteren has known Chris Matthews for years! And not only that! She and her husband, DC lawyer John Coale, have even gone out drinking with the unnamed star!
I know Chris Matthews, known him for years. Andrea Mitchell, traveled the world with her, following secretaries of state, even trying to keep up with Andrea because she outraces all of us.
You and I have been friends for a long time. You and— And to be honest, you and my husband and I have tipped a few glasses of wine together, or more. So, I mean, like—so, I mean, how could I not be luckier? It's like this is just so exciting.
This is fun for me. I'm thrilled to be here.
The unnamed star pantomimed this drinking as Van Susteren talked down to her new liberal viewers, treating them as if they had IQs of maybe like 9.
As the chat continued, the unnamed star played dumb too. Some of the analysts ran for the year when the star said this:
MADDOW: You know, one of the things I have that always been envious of you for is your ability to get anybody to talk to you. Like, your history, your interview history is like reading an encyclopedia. But in the last year or two, you've been particularly good at getting Donald Trump to talk to you, about getting all the Republicans to talk to you.Van Susteren was just "out to get some information" during her years at Fox. Meanwhile, several analysts ran for the yard as Maddow feigned surprise at Van Susteren's ability to attract Republican guests while she was serving at Fox.
Let me ask you, honestly, do you feel like some of that was specific to the fact that you were at Fox? Or do you think that those Republican connections that you made, the Republican guests you've been able to book up to and including the president-elect, do you think they will still want to talk to you over here? I certainly hope so.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think so. I mean, look, I`m curious and I think they're going to come over here. I'm going to give them a fair shake. I`m going to give Republicans a fair shake. I'm going to give Democrats a fair shake.
You know, here's sort of the odd thing. As certain as I am of anything at all, [Name Withheld], I'm not 100 percent certain. So I actually want to know what people have to say because maybe they'll change my mind. Maybe I'm wrong about something.
So you know, I think I'm a very—I think I'm a curious person and I'm not out to gun anybody down. I'm out to get some information and, frankly, I want to hear what they have to say.
By now, the gushing and fawning had been matched by both stars' treatment of liberal viewers as complete absolute fools. Just for the record, the gushing continued as the unnamed cable host ended the chat, offering one final claim:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Greta Van Susteren, host of the soon-to-be hit show, For the Record, here on MSNBC starting Monday at 6.That was the end of the segment. No one had made the unnamed star gush about Greta that way. Instead, it was Greta's heteregeneous convincibility which, at least in part, led her to sell us the car.
Greta, I can`t speak for everybody in the building, but let me speak for everybody in the building. We're super psyched that you're coming here and I can't wait for you to get to work here. It's really going to be great to be a colleague.
VAN SUSTEREN: And you know what, Rachel? I am so glad to be here. It's fun for me.
Look, you're my friend. I mean, this is exciting. I've wanted to work with you. So this is great. So thank you very much. It's been fun. And I look forward to a lot of exciting times ahead.
MADDOW: Good times. Thanks, Greta. Good luck.
All right. Let me just say, I know what you're thinking. Nobody asked to do that. It's true! Nobody asked me to do that.
I do not have that kind of relationship with anybody who works as an executive in this building. I did that of my own accord because I really am psyched about Greta being here. I do think she's great.
And I know you're thinking, "Ex-Fox News? Really, Maddow?"
Really! She's her own person. Nobody tells Greta what to do. Nobody ever has.
She's incredibly heterogeneous in terms of her ideological interests, in terms of her convincibility. She's been all over the world. She really does have an incredible curiosity and enthusiasm for this job and I think you're going to like her and I think you should give her a chance.
So there. OK, go away!
Way back when, Ford had a lot of trouble selling car called the Edsel. In 1978, a major movie concerning a fictional attempt to sell a car called The Betsy. (Harold Robbins had written the book.)
Last Thursday night, a major cable news star was aggressively selling the Greta. She imagined some viewers being suspicious, given Van Susteren's previous service at Fox.
We don't know what Van Susteren's work will be like at The One True Liberal Channel. That said, we think her work at Fox sheds a great deal of light on the way we've entered an age of propaganda, constant dissembling and the absence of discernible "facts" or "truth."
Starting tomorrow, we're going to review some of Van Susteren's work at Fox. That will including the work in which she helped Donald J. Trump spread his birther claims around, as that cynic at Media Matters had suggested or said.
We'll also suggest, once again, that serious liberals and progressives should be very wary of our own extremely strange, unnamed cable star. Last Thursday, she was selling a new model car—and attempting to mislead her starry-eyed viewers again.
Tomorrow: Let's start with those video clips