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Michael Steele and the disease of cable commentators as candidates

The Baltimore Sun

This segment of Chuck Todd's "The Daily Rundown" Monday got more media bounce than usual for the show thanks to MSNBC commentator Michael Steele sounding very serious about running for governor in Maryland.

But to me, it was first and foremost the perfect tableau of the troubled channel as TV boneyard for unemployed politicos.

This video featuring Steele and put-out-to-pasture Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs illustrates not only the reason MSNBC is dying in the ratings, but also the deeper disease of our democracy with cable channels handing over airtime to talking heads who are committed to ideology and partisan political gain, not information, analysis or civic enlightenment.

Listen to Gibbs talking about the "so-called scandals"  of the Obama administration -- and, oh yeah, the "trumped-up problems" the president faces. Trumped up by who, his attorney general?

Could Gibbs and David Axelrod, the other cherry atop MSNBC's propaganda sundae, carry any more water for Team Obama? And watch how Steele uses the channel to try and inject himself into Maryland politics. Doesn't MSNBC have any sense of public service?

“I love the idea of service,” Steele told Todd whe asked why he was considering a run.

Steele loves the idea of a paycheck. And MSNBC was one of his last, best hopes after Fox News passed on him. And who knows if MSNBC will renew him. With the ratings misery MSNBC now finds itself in, cuts are certainly not out of the question at renewal time. And why not Steele, who has generated less than zero excitement on the channel?

I hated it when Fox let Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and the smarmy Rick Santorum use its airwaves to essentially campaign. And I hate it that MSNBC is letting Steele have this platform to mess with Maryland's political and civic life.

I know Steele or any Republican becoming governor after Martin O'Malley's term ends is a long shot. But one Bob Ehrlich with his campaign robocalls and attempts to limit press freedom was enough Republican leadership for me in Maryland, thank you very much.

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