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Sunday, September 18, 2011

This morning I thought I'd died and gone to smart heaven
Posted by Jill | 2:42 PM

Four walls can barely contain this much smart

If you think you've seen Chris Hayes all over the place the last few weeks, it's because you have. Over the last year, Hayes has been doing the Rachel Maddow Training Path gig of subbing for as many MSNBC hosts as possible. When he first started appearing on television, Hayes was a walking argument against drinking too much of the Official Coffee of Morning Schmoe, but as he's become more comfortable in front of the camera, his overcaffeinated bounciness has largely been tamed into a kind of youthful puppylike enthusiasm -- or at least it was until MSNBC gave him his own show, which premiered yesterday morning at the ungodly hour of 7 AM, and today at the almost as ungodly hour of 8 AM.

It's really kind of disingenuous for MSNBC to on the one hand recognize just how ferociously smart (and yeah, ok, cute) Hayes is, clearly want to flog the show enough to make even Joey "Dead Intern" Scarborough have a REAL progressive on as a guest instead of calling that unctuous tool Mark Halperin one; and on the other hand bury him at a time when almost no one in his target audience is awake yet. But if you are one of our younger readers, and you don't yet have a DVR, get one. Or watch online. But even if you are older than the target audience, which I am, it's really worth your while to get up early and see what a Sunday morning news talk show can be when it's NOT completely populated by Beltway dinosaurs who have been spouting the same relentlessly wrong and misguided conventional wisdom for decades. I mean seriously -- does anyone still actually care what George Will says, or Cokie Roberts, or Doris Kearns Goodwin? It would be one thing if these people were using a lifetime of observation of Washington to provide insight and perspective into what's going on today. But if you've watched what Driftglass so charmingly and accurately calls the Mouse Circus lately, you've no doubt wanted to stick an icepick in your own eye and lobotomize yourself just to make Teh Moronic Platitudes stop.

It's clear that unlike conventional Sunday gasbag shows, which parade out the same Republicans week after week, followed by a panel of irrelevances primly having the vapors over President Obama daring to question his Republican Overlords, Up with Chris Hayes (a title which both snarks at and embraces Hayes' chirpy, bouncy overcaffeinated chipmunk persona) is going to be light on guests, perhaps because there are few political figures who are going to be willing to put on full makeup and go into a studio for a 7 AM live interview with a guy who sounds like he's been up all night drinking Starbucks and fueled by the tray of pastries prominently displayed on the interview table, still has another six hours in him. Still, Hayes managed to score an interview with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for his debut show, which was followed on Sunday by an expression of frustration to his special guest and BFF Rachel Maddow (who was resplendently geeky in full Nerdy McNerdlington regalia) at how you can't get these people to say anything beyond their talking points.

The panel looks like it's going to consist of a few young think-tankers and high-end bloggers, one libertarian-leaning conservative, and a token Old Guy. Saturday's panel consisted of the ubiquitous MSNBC correspondent/HuffPo political blogger Alex Wagner, liberal comic John Fugelsang, former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, and American Conservative blogger Michael Dougherty. Sunday's panel included the equally overcaffeinated frequent Real Time with Bill Maher guest Reihan Salam, the aforementioned Rachel Maddow, New York Times correspondent and former Salon writer Rebecca Traister, and Pam Spaulding lookalike Heather McGhee of Demos. The Old Guy role was played today by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY-8) who surprisingly didn't seem at all out of place, perhaps because he is not among the gasbags to be invited to the Mouse Circus.

There's a ridiculous amount of content packed into these four hours of weekend television, which often seem paced as if they are running at 78rpm in a 33-1/3 rpm genre. But especially when you watch Chris Hayes banter with Rachel Maddow and his young panel, it makes you remember what intelligent political discourse used to look like, before Sally Quinn came along and conducted the unholy marriage between Washington politicians and the journalists who cover them. And as a special bonus? The show is executive-produced by original Morning Sedition producer Jonathan "Smartypants" Larsen.

Watch. Enjoy. You just might explode from an excess of smart:

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Blogger Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...
As someone who is 49, I am thrilled that there is a token old guy on the set. I got panties older than this crowd. And they fit pretty good, too.

Blogger JerseyCynic said...
Thanks for the brilliant post! -- I look forward to watching the program

Blogger Distributorcap said...
chris hayes runs circles around of the "mainstream" mouseketeers