Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dylan Ratigan's Replacement.

Dylan Ratigan is leaving MSNBC. I don't have strong feelings about that; I wasn't a fan of his show. There's only so much Howard Beale you can channel before it begins to obscure your message. 

I am interested in who MSNBC might get to replace him, however. I have said elsewhere that we're living in a golden age of journalistic talent, even if we're in the Dark Ages of journalism's execution of its civic responsibilities. I can think of a dozen superlatively talented journalists off the top of my head, any one of whom might be an excellent choice to replace Ratigan's shrieking outrage with more effective, measured analysis. 

(This and unlabeled images from Wikimedia Commons)

Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) is probably my favorite choice. He currently hosts Up with Chris Hayes at 8 AM on weekends on MSNBC, which is hands down the smartest show on television. That may not be replicable in a 5 day per week format; Mr. Hayes' piercing analysis probably requires some lengthy thought. His excellent panels would probably be watered down with more hack guests, and the show's current 2 hour format would suffer if truncated to a single hour. It should be noted that doing away with the Hardball rerun would solve that problem. 

Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) would be another great choice. Klein writes the extraordinarily informative Wonkblog for the Washington Post. He's also a contributor to Bloomberg. Klein is smart, funny, telegenic and astonishingly well-informed on a huge variety of subjects. He has extensive television experience as a guest on a number of shows, and has polished his telepresence as a guest host, most recently on The Rachel Maddow Show. This guy is going to win a Pulitzer someday, and MSNBC would be smart to sign him to a long-term contract before his market value spikes. 

I have no idea if Eugene Robinson (@Eugene_Robinson, not that he ever tweets. Get with the program, Mr. Robinson.) has any interest in hosting a show, but he'd be another terrific choice. Mr. Robinson already has a Pulitzer, and it's not likely to be his last. He writes a syndicated column for the Post, and is extremely well versed in both politics and policy. His experience as a managing editor for the Post would serve him well running a news show. He's smart, entertaining and has an absolute gift for cutting through the bullshit. For the most part he's humorous and easy going, but he can be provoked. At that point he simply becomes authoritative. Anything hosted by him would be "must see" television.

Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn) would be an outstanding choice for the job. She's as smart as Klein and Robinson. She's almost as broad as Klein in her fields of expertise, having written on both feminist topics and religious fundamentalism. Her book Kingdom Coming is one of the great books on American Politics. (Still not available as an e-book, dammit). Her television presence is smooth and confident, and she brings a sharp edge to her commentary that resonates with those of us tired of bland conventional wisdom and Beltway false equivalence. 

(Image from

Dave Weigel (@DaveWeigel) is perhaps the best political (as opposed to policy) analyst writing today. His knowledge of recent political history is encyclopedic. His work ethic, in a journalistic community almost catatonically lazy, is relentless. Unlike the majority of other MSNBC hosts, Mr. Weigel is not a political liberal. He is instead a Libertarian, which would score some points for the network in the "journalistic balance" game. Most impressive, he is the single most intellectually honest writer of whom I know, willing to call BS on the most sacred cliches of the Beltway, and back up those calls with meticulously gathered evidence. His television appearances have been less frequent than they should be, and he may lack the polish of some of the other candidates. That was true of both Rachel Maddow and Al Sharpton when they started their shows of course, and they quickly mastered the craft. 

Joy-Ann Reid (@thereidreport) writes for the Miami Herald and blogs at The Reid Report. She would bring unrivaled electronic media experience to the job, having worked in both television and radio, and owning her own video production company. She's smart, assertive and knowledgable about both politics and policy. She's also a fine investigative journalist, having covered the killing of Trayvon Martin on site, and doing numerous interviews with the principals. 

(image from the Reid Report)

This list is by no means comprehensive. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone is a terrific reporter who would appeal to fans of Rattigan's subversiveness. Robert Reich would be an excellent choice to host a show. Some other possibilities: Ana Marie Cox, Michael Hastings, or Catherine Rampell, all of whom are first rate journalists.

(Cox. Image from Facebook.)

(Hastings. Image from Media Bistro)

(Rampell. Image from the NYT)

I could go on. As I said before, this is a Golden Age of journalistic talent. Any one of the names I mentioned, and dozens more would be very able replacements for Dylan Rattigan. In many cases, they would be upgrades.