I admit it. I put on MSNBC in the afternoon if there's nothing better, like a medley of Charles Butterworth films on TCM. Chris Matthews is a giant pain in the ass and Al Sharpton needs to develop an inside voice, but I'm often directed to something diverting or informative. Sadly, the last, shaky bastion of liberalism only makes headlines when it screws up. I mean, really. Martin Bashir, of all people. We've all thought about taking a dump on Sarah Palin's head, but you're not supposed to say so out loud, even on low-rated cable. That being the case, I can't believe the Real Housewife of Wasilla was so distressed that she had to cancel an appearance on The Today Show to hawk her latest McBook. This is a woman who likes to shoot animals from a helicopter so she can admire the red blood on the white snow. She's not joining Lindsey Graham on the fainting couch any time soon, and I'll bet he's relieved.
Oh, sorry, was that Hate Speech? It's hard to tell these days. Alec "Oops, I did it again" Baldwin was abruptly yanked off MSNBC when he called some reporter a "queen" last week. Like Bashir, he apologized. Unlike Bashir, he was only responsible for one hour a week and it was hardly a must-see. Like most actors, Baldwin is too self-involved to be a good interviewer. I enjoyed his talk with the too-little-seen Debra Winger, but the hour he spent with Bill DeBlasio felt like three. When it finally ended I was convinced that the new mayor of New York is Bloomberg without the charisma.
If Baldwin is gone for good, no doubt the Rightzis will crow that it's all right to insult Palin but not teh gays. I don't believe he's a bigot, just someone with imperfect impulse control. And who of us is without sin when it comes to life's daily irritants? A female driver cuts you off in traffic, a black person grabs the last cart in the supermarket, and all the years of good will and conscientious striving fall away, and out from the reptilian part of your brain comes that unforgivable word, or several. It's shameful enough when you're alone in the car. Celebrities are never alone. Baldwin will be doing benefits for GLAAD until he retires, because Oscar Hammerstein was right -- we're carefully taught all that garbage in early life and we never throw it all away. (I actually hate that song, it's so damn preachy, and Richard Rodgers didn't knock himself out coming up with an attractive melody. But damn it, he was right.)
But what of MSNBC? Are there so few articulate lefties that they need to repeat everything twice and fill up the weekend with those unspeakable prison documentaries? Why Joe Scarborough when the Stephanie Miller radio show is looking for a TV outlet? Can we limit guest commentators to one appearance per day, to cut down on the queasy feeling of deja vu? (Did I see her an hour ago? Does she have her own show? Is her name really Crystal Ball? Should I get out of the house for a while?) Does every freaking member of Congress have to be interviewed in the same spot in the Capitol? Just for the comedy, could they pick up the cable show Rob and Doug Ford are doing? I can't get enough of those loveable hosers.