This morning, Joe Scarborough “addressed” an MSNBC production error that made Mitt Romney look foolish by suggesting he couldn’t get a crowd to cheer for him at his own rally. That is, he told his audience that he and his staff had become the subject of a conspiracy theory by myopic bloggers who love cheetos.
I addressed the controversial MSNBC clip here and here, noting that the network erred in transcribing the crowd’s chant on-screen. It’s very difficult to discern what the crowd is chanting; if you’re not sure what somebody’s saying, it’s journalistically improper to take your best guess and throw it on the air. It’s no surprise that, when Scarborough re-aired the clip this morning, his producers removed the transcription – precisely the source of the controversy. (The Blaze, which originally reported this story, wrote, “…where the controversy comes in is in the caption on the screen quoting the audience as chanting ‘Ryan!’”).
Without noting that the text was removed, Scarborough dismissed the issue by saying, “When he [Romney] says, ‘He’s quite a guy, isn’t he?’ it just looked goofy, that’s what I was laughing at.” That’s obviously not true. If it were, MSNBC’s producers wouldn’t have transcribed the crowd’s chants on-screen.
People – television producers, editors and hosts – make mistakes. Audiences understand that. This was a mistake, and a relatively small one as far as television production goes. Scarborough could have addressed it by simply acknowledging that, given the obvious ambiguity in the audio, it was improper to ascribe words to the crowd that created a false impression – at least, according to what those on the scene reported.
Rather than acknowledge the error, Scarborough expressed disbelief that the clip had caused any uproar and took umbrage at criticism of his production staff, because they work “really late, through the night, they see a Politico story, they see the headline…and that’s the thing that bothers me the most.” He accused the “cheetos brigade” of concocting a conspiracy theory that he’s trying to throw the election by doctoring video tapes. He urges them to “put down the cheetos” and “get out of your mom’s basement.” I haven’t seen anybody who has criticized MSNBC’s footage in a major outlet parroting this conspiracy. It’s a straw man constructed by Scarborough intended to discredit the legitimate criticisms that have been levied against him and MSNBC.