FRIDAY, APRIL 1, 2022
A very strange corporate channel: We thought we'd use this initial Friday in April to nail down a bit of book-keeping. We refer to MSNBC's most recent (apparent) decision to stop providing transcripts of its primetime "cable news" shows.
For the record, TV news orgs aren't required to transcribe their programs. On a voluntary basis, different channels and different programs adopt different approaches to the practice. Here are a few examples:
The PBS NewsHour transcribes every segment of every show. The transcripts are apparently carefully proofread. For an example, click this.
Meet the Press transcribes every program. For the archive of transcripts, click here.
CNN transcribes all its programs on a rapid-fire basis, but there's no sign that the transcripts are proofread. Errors are common. For the weekly archive, click here.
Fox News provides few transcripts. The few transcripts it does provide have been prepared with care.
Then too, we have MSNBC, one of our strangest and most unprofessional corporate "cable news" channels. To appearances, the liberal channel which loves transparency has again decided to stop transcribing its shows.
As we type, it's a Friday afternoon—and it's April 1. At MSNBC's tumbleweed-strewn transcript site, the most recent transcripts are those from the primetime shows of Tuesday, March 15.
This channel's transcripts were always a mess, larded with uncorrected errors. But at least the channel was pretending to throw observers that bone.
We say the channel has "again" stopped providing transcripts. That's because this half-assed corporate channel stopped providing transcripts once before, and not all that long ago—last summer, if memory serves.
After several months, the channel resumed the practice of transcribing its primetime shows. (In the process, it also disappeared years of transcripts of its previous programs.) Now, it looks like the transcribing of shows has been stopped again.
The reason for doing this would seem to be obvious. Presumably, management doesn't want the world discussing the routinely stupid things its hackish TV stars, who pretend to be each other's "friends," say and do on the air.
MSNBC has always been a weirdly undisciplined, scattershot organization. Perhaps you've noticed this tendency in the people they hire to anchor their shows, and in the things those lucky duckies typically say on the air.
We Americans live inside a clownish journalistic culture. On the brighter side, the jugglers and clowns who you see on the air are extremely well paid.
As we first noted decades ago, when "talent" is being paid that well, they'll tend to stick to the scripts. That's true at the gruesome Fox News Channel. It's true with our own tribe's favorite shows at our own tribe's favorite "news channel."
They signal to you that they're on your side. You should try not to believe that.
Lik the rents, the salaries are too damn high—and it looks like the transcripts are gone.