And the branding of Mouseketeer Kramer: Over at Salon, “Kid” Pareene keeps getting it right about this year’s debates.
You may not agree with all his solutions. But The Kid has played it straight about how bad the moderating has been.
Note the contrast between gallant Pareene and Ezra Klein, whom we’ll posit briefly as Goofus:
Gallant is willing to tell the truth when he sees Jim Lehrer fall down on the job.Klein has his several good points, of course. And it’s fun to watch the way the cable suits have begun to present him as Mouseketeer Kramer.
Goofus knows he has to pretend that there was nothing to look at. He just doesn’t get it! Keep moving!
Gallant continues to note how bad the questions have been.
Goofus just keeps plowing ahead with his own brand of Medicare bungling.
Two-thirds of the way through a debate review show, the slightly wacky neighbor across the hall comes screeching onto the set. That slightly wacky neighbor is Klein, appearing for a very quick fact-check.
After he's gone, the other kids go back to repeating David Axelrod's points. At any rate, here you see the branding of Klein after Biden and Ryan debated:
MADDOW (10/11/12): All right, we have lots more ahead including reaction from the Obama campaign specifically plus our favorite policy wonk Ezra Klein on what we heard from both sides tonight. There’s a little truth telling we need to do on both sides. This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the first presidential debate.The Channel has been looking for ways to use Klein. Last summer, they tested, then dropped, an “Ezra Klein Challenge” game-show format, in which Klein would pledge to explain a difficult topic in two minutes or less.
[commercial break to help pay the seven-figure salaries]
MADDOW: I want to go to Ezra Klein now. Ezra Klein is our resident wonk. Ezra Klein is our analyst here at MSNBC.
They tried this format each night for a week. A clock ticked as Ezra spoke.
(Translation: In that format, we liberal viewers were told that we’re smart. And that we wouldn’t have to be smart for any more than two minutes!)
For whatever reason, the Challenge was dropped. An obvious programming note about these fevered corporate strategies:
To his credit, Klein is a little too distant to fit the “Friends” feel the suits are crafting for us on all our liberal shows. As a result, he’s now being branded as “our favorite policy wonk,” a rather obvious play on the old show, “My Favorite Martian.”
In an effort to warm him up, Klein is being brought on the shows billed as our favorite wonk. The professor extended this cheerful new branding on yesterday morning’s program:
HARRIS-PERRY (10/14/12): I want to look at— So my favorite wonk on taking things that I don’t understand and making them clear is Ezra Klein. And so, on the blog fact check [sic], he talks about this $5 trillion question and the fact that it’s controversial and says what we do know, that the Romney/Ryan plan will not work for without raising taxes on people making under $200,000 a year. None of the responses of the studies have disproven that.We're all team players at MSNBC! What else are they paying us for?
For our money, Kid Pareene has been quite gallant in his review of this year’s debates. Ezra Klein, our favorite policy wonk, played Goofus when he fawned to Lehrer in yesterday’s Washington Post.