MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2022
Alex Wagner in Florida: The statement came in the first few minutes of Wednesday night's cable news program:
WAGNER (8/17/22): Tonight, Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig joins us live.
And then, we'll be going down to Florida, where Republican governor Ron DeSantis has ordered some new lessons for the start of school this week—revisionist history and Christian nationalism. New Yorker writer and dean of the Columbia Journalism School Jelani Cobb will be in the studio to discuss.
The teacher who stood at the head of this class was MSNBC's Alex Wagner. She's host of the new Alex Wagner Show, which now appears in four of the Maddow Show's original time slots.
Wagner's show will air on Tuesday through Friday nights, at exactly 9 p.m. The show may turn out to be very good—or it could turn out to be less helpful.
Wagner comes to MSNBC from Showtime, a network whose journalistic standards are even lower than those maintained on modern-day "cable news" channels. In recent years, she has served as a co-host on the aptly-named program, The Circus, a politics-adjacent infotainment show.
During her MSNBC debut last week, Wagner featured lengthy reports connected to back-to-school week in the Sunshine State. These lengthy reports appeared on Wednesday and Friday nights.
That said, is it true? Is Governor DeSantis really injecting "revisionist history and Christian nationalism" into that state's public schools?
Those sound like highly significant claims. To what extent are they accurate?
About twenty minutes into Wednesday's show, Wagner began fleshing out those claims. The rest of that evening's program concerned public schooling in Florida.
What hath Ron DeSantis wrought? Near the start of that evening's lengthy report, Wagner offered this:
WAGNER: Since he took office in 2019, he has made it a priority to refashion the Florida school system according to right-wing conservative principles
You may recall two signal pieces of legislation in particular, courtesy of DeSantis: the so-called Don't Say Gay bill, which restricts teaching on sex and gender...and the so-called Stop WOKE Act, which bans the teaching of any lesson, especially about race and racism, which makes any student feel discomfort which could be anything to suggest that systemic racism is real and then make students who benefit from it feel guilty.
Wagner's lesson this night started there, with a capsule description of two DeSantis bills. In citing the names of the bills, she used the term "so-called."
(For better or worse, each of those names is the fruit of snark. Don't Say Gay is a mocking name fashioned by liberal snark. Sadly, "The Stop WOKE Act" comes close to being the actual name of the second bill, an apparent product of the governor's perpetual snark.)
For the record, nothing in the "Don't Say Gay" bill explicitly says that teachers can't say the word "gay" in the classroom.
Meanwhile, how about the "Stop WOKE Act?" Does it really "ban the teaching of any lesson, especially about race and racism, which makes any student feel discomfort?"
That sounds like a fairly dumb thing to do. But does the Stop WOKE Act actually do that?
We decided to take a look at the text of the legislation. The lengthy text is a bit of a jumble—but so was the journalism Wagner performed in discussing the fruits of the act.
Under Wagner's tutelage, liberal viewers were getting schooled about the Florida bill and attendant practices. Were they also being fully informed, in an instructive manner?
Full disclosure! We're not suggesting that The Stop WOKE Act is perfect legislation. We're not even saying it's good legislation, or that it should even be as seen as acceptable on balance.
In the main, we aren't here to discuss the quality of the Florida bill. In the main, we're here to discuss the quality of the journalism Wagner performed last week.
Full disclosure! If DeSantis ends up on the ballot in 2024, we won't be voting for him. That said, we also wouldn't vote for the bulk of the journalism we saw Wagner perform last week.
In Florida, the children are starting a new school year. Elsewhere, it might be said that we'll soon be starting a new year of political journalism.
What kind of journalism do we blue tribe voters want our tribunes to perform? If we want to ponder that civics question, Wagner's reports about Florida's schools might be a good place to start.
We'll be visiting friends in the Hudson Valley for the next few days. We expect to post tomorrow morning before we depart, but we'll postpone further reports about the way blue viewers got schooled by Wagner's reports until we've made our way back.
Wagner's new prime-time program could turn out to be highly instructive. But as with all such undertakings, it could turn out to be something else.
The way of our blue tribe's world: We can't link you to transcripts of the two programs to which we've referred.
Based upon what you can see at this site, it seems that Wagner's corporate owners have adopted an even weirder transcript policy than the ones they've maintained in the past.
Transcript delayed is transcript denied! All the top experts say this.