Tuesday, May 11, 2010

MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” is Edward R. Murrow to the Les Nessmans on Other Networks (If you don’t get the reference, don’t continue reading)

The New York Times wrote about “Morning Joe” on MSNBC in the Sunday Styles section this past week, but they were late to the table.

Having watched from day 1 in May 2007, I can say that the Times story missed the point about an outstanding program for grown-ups with brains.

Hosted by former Congressman Joe Scarborough and longtime broadcaster Mika Brzezinski, this wake-up-with-politics show is so much better than others in this genre.  More than the relationships among the hosts, more than the revolving cast of notables debating issues and more than extended segments, “Morning Joe” stands alone in that it doesn’t pander to “the suits” who usually demand that a program be tailored to everyone.

The never-ending dialogue is sophisticated, urbane and intelligent, but it’s also as unrestricted as the conversation you have with your close friends after the rest of the party guests have left.  You get the idea, at least, that no one’s pulling punches and being politically correct. 

There’s sarcasm, jokes that those in Peoria won’t get and a lot of inside baseball.  No one’s hiding behind a desk and pretending to be perfect.  Guests can be put on the spot and asked questions without being prepped by pre-interviews.  Ill-prepared?  Don’t do live TV.

What I love, particularly, is that there are no vomit-inducing human-interest stories, no suggestions for Mother’s Day gifts and (GAG) no cooking segments.

Celebrities who come to the set get a minute to promote and then have to demonstrate intellect or take a hike.  Tom Hanks is a recent example; he showed that he’s much more than an actor and director.  He can think.

And that’s what it’s all about: thinking.  Thank goodness there are some broadcasters out there who are still given free rein to do so and that the bosses at parent company NBC are leaving Mika, Joe and company alone. 

P.S. Note to Don Imus (whose program Morning Joe replaced): your sophomoric show was Les Nessman to their Edward R. Murrow.  (If you don’t get the reference, Morning Joe is not for you.)

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