MSNBC, Maddow, Schultz go all-out on Wisconsin recall election - I loved it, I hated it

Ed Schultz

If you weren't watching MSNBC Tuesday night, you missed not only a great night of American politics, but also a glimpse of some of the forces that will shape the big war of 2012 that's heating up.

First of all, thanks and much praise to MSNBC for putting so many resources into covering the effort by Wisconsin Democrats to take back the state senate through a recall vote of six Republican senators. The effort was a long shot given that one of the districts in which the recall took place had been GOP for over a 100 years. But it almost worked.

The Democrats needed to win three of the Republican seats, and they only won two. That means the GOP still has a 17 to 16 advantage in the senate. And that means freshman GOP Gov. Scott Walker can continue to have his way.

But what a battle. It was not decided until the early morning hours Wednesday, and even now, there are calls for an investigation of the vote count in Waukesha County (just west of Milwaukee), which for the second key election in a row came in late with votes that swung the election to the GOP.

None of these vote totals are yet official. And I suspect those votes in Waukesha County will be challenged.

Sitting here in Baltimore, I have no way of knowing what the deal was in Waukesha County. But I hope the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, where I once worked, will set its investigative sights on a review of the vote counting there -- if it looks questionable.

If it is suspicious, I also hope TV will put some resources in examining Waukesha's vote counting apparatus as well.

Heck, if Keith Olbermann wants to go beyond dressing up and play acting at being Edward R. Murrow, and actually doing some of the journalism Murrow might have done, maybe he could direct some of Current TV's magazine journalism resources to a look at how the votes were tallied. His boss, Al Gore, certainly knows a thing or two about contested vote counts.

But kudos to MSNBC and Maddow and Schultz, who I have often criticized. This was Schultz's story, not Maddow's, but she was all over it Tuesday night bringing context, history and savvy analysis to the story during her 9 o'clock hour. She is not a journalist, but this was Maddow at her best as a political analyst.

She provided an excellent set-up for Schultz's show from Madison, which followed at 10.

I do have complaints -- big complaints -- about MSNBC's coverage.

When you are as ideologically rigid as MSNBC was Tuesday, the story becomes a one-dimensional grind and you miss so much of the rich tapestry that is American political life.

By the time I went to bed, I thought I would scream if I heard John Nichols, of The Nation, one more time offering the same two or three notes of analysis. Where were all the University of Wisconsin political science analysts? And what about folks from the Journal-Sentinel or other down-the-middle Wisconsin newspapers?

I could go on with the sins of ideologically-biased coverage. But you know what? MSNBC was the only channel that committed to bringing me every update and vote swing with live, on-the-ground coverage, and for that I am grateful -- as a viewer and a citizen.







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