I disagree with the one-sided approach Ed Schultz and MSNBC have taken in covering today's recall vote of state legislators in Wisconsin, but I praise the cable channel and its host for going out to the Midwest and covering this bellwether political and economic vote today.
And while I have criticized Schultz's partisan rabblerousing, I also praise him for his ability to craft a coherent (and even brilliant if overstated) narrative to help his viewers make sense of life-changing events that are being spun like crazy by both sides and several players.
Check out this video and the "middle-class-in-peril" story line that Schultz is spinning to set up Monday night's show from Madison, Wisconsin.
Having grown up in Wisconsin and gone to school at the University of Wisconsin, I might be biased in favor of thinking this story more important than others. But I don't think so. It's just that there is so much huge news out there today with Wall Street, Somalia, riots in London and leaders in Congress and the White House who have become symbols of service only to their own re-elections.
Many of these union employees feel like they are fighting for their economic lives -- and a quality of life that they feel they paid for throughout their working days and nights. And Gov. Scott Walker is the one now telling them the rules have changed, and the state can no longer afford to keep those promises.
If you don't think we are on the verge of this fight on a national level over Social Security and medical benefits for seniors, you are living in another America. Hell, it is going on all over Europe.
I urge folks to watch Schultz tonight if for no other reason than to see and maybe feel the anxiety, anger and passion folks who are in the middle of this economic fight for their lives are feeling. Schultz's set-up is steeped in powerful emotion -- and some of what the folks in Wisconsin are feeling is totally righteous.
I will admit this, I thought Schultz was a total gasbag and blowhard when he started at MSNBC. I don't know if he has grown as a cable TV host, or if I am just paying closer attention, but this narrative is a skilled piece of political cable television. (Here's a link to Schultz's introduction to last night's show in case you are having trouble seeing the video here. It is definitely worth your time.)
I just wish channels like MSNBC did fact-based journalism -- not partisan, political, ideological rabble rousing of the left or right.