Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: MSNBC (1-10 of 18)

All the 2012 Presidential debates: Were they worth it? What's their value?

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The debates are over. What changed as a result of them? Polls show Mitt Romney a lot closer to President Obama — it’s a tighter race ever since Romney’s first-debate victory. By the final debate, Romney had shape-shifted from conservative warrior to agreeable centrist — agreeable in the sense that he spent the night mostly agreeing with what Obama is doing abroad. The message that was sent by his side? Don’t worry, he’s not going to do anything extreme if you elect him. If Romney wins the Presidency, the debates will be seen as a crucial turning point in his campaign. If Obama wins, they’ll be largely forgotten. In this sense, debates every four years follow a similar pattern: Whoever the incumbent is, he is helped or hindered by further exposure of his image and his platform.

But that raises the every-four-years question: Should we be electing Presidents in part because of how well they perform on television, in a stilted, awkward debate format? READ FULL STORY

'The Newsroom' premiere review: Did Aaron Sorkin's new HBO series make you mad as hell, or happy as a clam?

The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s return to television, premiered on Sunday night, and let’s get ready to rumble. It’s a series that will serve as an escape-valve of relief, anger, and confirmation, articulating so many things that so many people feel about the frequently-pathetic state of the news media. (In a sense, it wants to be this TV generation’s equivalent to the 1976 movie Network, with the Paddy Chayevsky-written line, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”) It’s also a series that is going to drive some people crazy. For some, it will be because the show is frequently hectoring and repetitive, and it has storytelling problems with its office romances. But for others, it’s going to make them crazy because no matter how clearly Sorkin states the opposite (on-screen and in interviews), The Newsroom is going to strike them as one long liberal — or as Bill O’Reilly will doubtless label it, “far left” — screed. READ FULL STORY

'Politics is weird and creepy': MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Fox News' Shepard Smith agree on Gingrich, Romney

Last night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reached across the political-cable-news aisle to play a delightful clip of Fox News’ Shepard Smith and his reaction to Newt Gingrich’s I’m-outta-here, I-kinda-support-Mitt-Romney, grrr-grrr-I’m-furious press conference, and Romney’s statement on that endorsement. READ FULL STORY

Politics on Tuesday TV: Rick Santorum 'Breaking In' as Mitt Romney goes up 'The River'

While the broadcast networks were airing new episodes of The River and the return of Breaking In (hoo boy, even Megan Mullally came off badly in that Christian Slater-led stinker; poor her), the real fascination was in the tight Ohio primary fight between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, and President Obama’s press conference earlier in the day.

Both Fox News Channel and MSNBC said in various ways that the narrowness of the Ohio race was an important indication of problems for Romney going forward. Both channels pointed out the disparity in what the candidates had spent in the state — roughly $12 million by Romney; roughly $1 million for Santorum. Michael Moore, popping up on (where else?) MSNBC, asked what does it mean about Romney’s chances “if he can’t beat the guy who forgets to file the papers [in Virginia]?”  READ FULL STORY

The Florida primary: Romney wins early, with his 'boot on Gingrich's neck'

By 8 p.m., the Florida primary victory had been called for Mitt Romney by all the news networks. Before the 9 p.m. hour, a shift could be discerned in Romney’s speech: Instead of trying to distinguish himself from the Republican pack of candidates, he looked frequently straight into the TV camera and addressed not merely his cheering campaign staffers, or the state of Florida, but the entire country. And his message to us all was to quote Thomas Paine and then go after the other party: “‘Lead, follow, or get out of the way.’ Mr. President, you were elected to lead, you followed, and now it’s time to get out of the way.” READ FULL STORY

State of the Union TV coverage: High emotions and charged rhetoric

In his last State of the Union address before he faces a re-election challenge, President Obama on Tuesday night called upon Congress to “lower the temperature in this town” and “work together.” But the television high point of the evening occurred just before the speech, as the President, in making his way to the podium, paused to hug Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is resigning this week to recover from her brain injury. A chant of “Gabby, Gabby, Gabby” could be heard throughout the House floor, as Giffords was given a standing ovation. READ FULL STORY

South Carolina primary results and beyond: Where the pundits don't matter

The victory of Newt Gingrich in South Carolina on Saturday night found much of the TV news punditocracy caught flat-footed, grasping for answers beyond cliches about why the defeat of frontrunner Mitt Romney was accomplished so handily. READ FULL STORY

'When Mitt Romney Came to Town' review: TV news reacts, while Gingrich enjoys 'the suffering'

When Mitt Romney Came to Town, a half-hour video financed by Newt Gingrich’s super PAC Winning Our Future, is a pulverizing piece of propaganda designed to portray Romney as a rapacious, conscience-less businessman who’ll do “anything for a profit,” as one of the quotes from Romney himself phrases it. Heavy on accusation and poignant interviews with unemployed people, the anti-Romney film could have been made by an Occupy Wall Street film student, or by Keith Olbermann during all the time he’s had declining to appear on Current TV. But the fact that it comes from an opponent in Romney’s own party, and lays out a line of attack the Democrats can use in the November election, raises it to high curiosity status. READ FULL STORY

New Hampshire primary TV coverage: Mitt Romney wins in votes and loses in the court of 'I like to fire people'

As the results of the New Hampshire primary vote rolled in, cable news networks had found the theme of the night. It was, roughly speaking, “What the hell was Mitt Romney thinking when he said, ‘I like to fire people’?” By 8 p.m. EST, Romney was the projected winner, with Ron Paul besting Jon Huntsman for second place. That left the pundits with lots of time to ponder the Romney psyche. READ FULL STORY

The Iowa caucuses: Where Santortum surged, and Rachel Maddow and Sarah Palin found (a little) common ground

For most of the prime time hours Tuesday night, the Iowa caucuses were an endlessly varied repetitions of “it’s too close to call” and “it’s a three-way race between Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul.” And that’s the way it went until Romney very narrowly defeated Santorum very late into the night. Nevertheless, the TV coverage yielded some interesting moments of contrast-and-compare, of stylistic tics, twists, and turns. READ FULL STORY

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