MSNBC’s Chris Hayes received an odd and very notable distinction last week, as announced on the air by his colleague Rachel Maddow — he was invited to attend this year’s CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), and appear on a panel called “Washington CSI,” a retrospective analysis of the bygone 2012 election season. This is, needless to say, not the kind of invite liberal TV hosts get too often, and Hayes’ views are in more radical discord with modern conservatism than most. He could have shared the stage with such luminaries as Michael Barone and Ralph Reed, and by his account was enthused to attend, until he remembered a crucial fact about the conference — they barred GOPROUD from sponsorship last year, as social conservatives took a dim view of the intersection of conservative politics and gay rights. So, he told them he’d only attend if GOPROUD was brought into the fold as well. That CPAC wholly excised Hayes’ invitation from their updated schedule today is suggestive of how they felt about his bargain. (We’re having some troubles with the video embed at present, sincerest apologies. You can view Hayes’ full explanation here.)
If you go to Yemen where I was, and you see the unexploded cluster bombs, and you have the list and photographic evidence, as I do, of women and children that represented the vast majority of deaths in the first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen, those people were murdered by President Obama, on his orders, because there was believed to be someone from Al Qaeda in that area.Jeremy Scahill, national security reporter for The Nation • Leveling a dire condemnation against President Obama, on the topic of U.S. drone strikes. Scahill was speaking on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes” (clearly a show accustomed to recent controversy), and as one could expect his remarks have drawn wide criticism. This is an issue Scahill is very close to — he’s reported from Yemen before, and claims one strike he investigated killed some 35 people, 14 of them children. Redstate.com founder Joshua Treviño pushed back, suggesting he was saying something ‘no reasonable person’ would. We think there’s a very worthy conversation to be had about the moral ramifications of this new sort of warfare, we just hope it doesn’t become too intense at expense of the dialogue. source (via • follow)
Very few Americans wake up early on weekend mornings to watch public intellectuals chat. For the tiny number who do, Up With Chris Hayes, a show hosted by Chris Hayes of The Nation, has distinguished itself for its unusual success bringing thoughtful, intellectually honest conversation to cable news. The show’s producers try to cover what they judge to be important, even when more trivial topics would result in higher ratings. During the panel portion of the show, the host and most guests actually grapple with fraught issues rather than shying away from them. Straw men, ad hominem attacks, and cheap point-scoring are exceptions* rather than the rule. Partisan hackery is discouraged. And Hayes tends to highlight rather than elide complicating facts and arguments that cut against his ideological instincts, preferring to interrogate his own views and to treat positions with which he disagrees fairly (something I’m attuned to because my politics are different enough from his that we’re often at odds).
Despite all this, Hayes is suddenly under fire for weekend remarks he made about heroism, war, and politics. Our public discourse is such that anyone can find him or herself viciously denounced by complete strangers based on a single sound-byte from which everyone extrapolates wildly. This controversy is worth highlighting because Hayes’ words and the reaction to them helps explain why so few broadcasters forthrightly discuss complicated, controversial subjects. Hayes subsequently issued an apology, but it’s his critics who’ve behaved badly.
An impassioned defense of Chris Hayes. We’ve read a few in the past day or so.
Over the weekend, a memorial day remembrance of a completely different kind arose. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, above, made a comment on the nature of fallen soliders and the way that many call them “heroes,” and drew a firestorm of reaction from the usual suspects — particularly due to the timing of what he said. Miss the controversy because you were too busy grilling something to go online? Here’s the round-up:
Should be lost on no one that the newscycle after the best economic news in years has been dominated by all culture war all the time.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 10, 2012
A brief, yet very astute observation by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. Following news that among other (tenuous, obviously) positive economic indicators, the rate of unemployment claims had fallen to a four-year low, it’s hard not to notice that the conservative tact against the Obama administration has been a whole lot of talk on contraception, and the occasional remark on same-sex marriage.
In case you missed it: Chris Hayes’ roundtable on SOPA is a must-watch, as it directly tackles the major issues around the legislation and explains them in a very effective way, including honestly dealing with the issues his employer, NBC Universal, has with the legislation. (Richard Cotton, one of the major figures representing NBC Universal in the SOPA fight, is part of the debate.) This 18-minute clip is totally worth a watch.
Keith Olbermann stepped in it when he donated to a political candidate. What happened next, though, was a really bad precedent for MSNBC that’ll prove more controversial than Olbermann’s original move was. While we don’t think Keith should’ve been donating to candidates immediately after talking to them on TV, we also think the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. It also opens NBC Universal up to double standards, especially if Gawker’s right, and MSNBC doesn’t actually have the standards that NBC News does. Some other points to come out of this whole mess:
» Correction: An earlier version of this post noted The Nation’s Washington Editor, Chris L. Hayes, no longer doing a replacement MSNBC show because of campaign contributions of his own. This was based on a still-online Wall Street Journal article. Hayes himself denied the allegations: “OK: I’m not filling in on Countdown tonight because I didn’t feel comfortable doing it given the circumstances. My not hosting tonight has *nothing* to do with several donations I made to two friends *before* I ever signed an MSNBC contract.” Thanks to Ilya Gerner and Susan Pruden for tipping us off to this. (And for reading!)