If you thought that my largely even-handed piece last week on the departure of Cenk Uygur from MSNBC would be met with magnanimity and an interest in healthy debate, free from petty dismissiveness, over at the Huffington Post -- well, you obviously don't read HuffPo much. While there were a few comments that could be called thoughtful and engaging, a good portion of them sounded like they were written by people who had just been forced to gargle a tall glass of cat piss.
The biggest argument seemed to be that Cenk's unrefined, blunt-instrument delivery -- which I think works alright on his internet show but is a little irritating on television at six o'clock -- just proves how genuine he is and constitutes a much-needed breath of fresh air on cable news.
"Mr. Pazienza....sorry you don't appreciate the straight-forward... and honest style of journalism that Cenk Uygur embodies, but maybe you need to get over that."
"I completely disagree with this person'a assessment of Cenk. Everything he said he backed up with facts. He's REAL."
Then there were the people who specifically zeroed-in on my use of the word "polish" to describe what Uygur lacks.
"'I don't think Uygur's a very polished broadcaster, so from that perspective I can understand why Griffin might want to relegate him to MS's basement for a little while.' Yeah, we are all looking for 'polish' vs adherence to principal in our reporters."
"Does the author mean polished like most of on-air hosts on most of the networks in the U.S. who don't know what questions to ask and do not listen to the answers given for proper follow up but look good doing it? That kind of polished?"
For the record, and I've made this clear here a couple of times, saying that Cenk isn't polished was a really nice way of not saying that he sounds like he's talking with a mouth full of marbles. What he's saying is decent -- it really is. How he's saying it needs work, and his combative delivery just makes his deficiencies when it comes to enunciation more pronounced. I'm certainly not saying that he should be banished from network news for all eternity; I'm saying that he needs to learn to be passionate without letting it consume him to the point where it highlights his faults as a broadcaster and therefore works against him when it comes to trying to effectively get his point across, and that's simply something you learn with training and over time.
Then, of course, comes the inevitable guy who accuses me of working for Fox.
"More importantly Chez. Who pays you? Roger or does Rupert pay you directly. This was a hit piece on MSNBC if I ever read one. The snide comments about being yelled at, bellicose, lame at broadcasting, nonstop left handed remarks about KO, Shultz, Cenk, and others."
But the number of people who had one very specific word to describe me -- presumably for having the gall to not offer what they deemed an unequivocal defense of Cenk -- well, just see for yourself.
"This from a guy with 20 years inside establishment news. Hmmm..."
"'presumably, nobody wanted to be shouted at for four minutes by a crazy guy who couldn't stop flailing his arms in their direction' C'mon, that is absurd! Uygur is nothing but respectful with guests who are respectful to him... Get with the program, Chez."
Rersponse: "He's establishment, what do you expect. Both sides are "50/50", always."
"HuffPost's tone is set to defend the establishment. Impressive! Why don't you tell us why Phil Griffin is more credible than Cenk?"
"'It's one reason I respect Cenk so much - he sticks to his principles first.' This would be the reason Chez, and any number of other media figures critical of people like Cenk have a problem, you see. Because he maintained his integrity, even at personal cost. While the ones griping are those who've sold theirs off a piece at a time for a little more cash and notoriety. People who wholly abandon their principles for mere profit of one kind or another are always upset with someone who won't, no matter the pressure. Because it makes them realize what weak, hollow, and pathetic excuses for human beings they really have become. Everyone should be just like them, so they don't have to feel bad about being a sellout."
That last comment I actually responded to, which I rarely do. All I wrote was, "That's pretty rich. You don't know much about my history, do you?" The idea that anyone should have to pass a political purity test is obscene to begin with, but to call me in particular "establishment" is fucking ridiculous. Like Cenk, I whipped right around and publicly bit the hand that fed me -- burning not just a job but potentially my entire career to the ground -- immediately after being fired by CNN for blogging. Speaking my mind, and the suicidally stupid need to go on speaking my mind, cost me a whole hell of a lot. It's a breeze to be ferociously vocal about your views -- and to criticize those who aren't -- when you're hiding behind an online handle and posting comments at the Huffington Post. Try doing it when there are serious negative repercussions that threaten your livelihood and everything you hold dear. If you can't do it then -- or until you're even in that position -- shut your goddamned trap.
This guy had a decent question (although he was apparently trying to get it to read the way Cenk often talks):
"Wait a moment, first you say he got a big of an ego, and then you say 'To hear Uygur address his online audience about the whole thing, you get the impression that at least on some level he really did feel like he had a responsibility to the people who put him in the position to be moved up to the big leagues in the first place, and he didn't want to sell them out or let them down.' So which one is it, integrity or ego. ?"
-- Zacky Ahmed
Why can't it be both? You think it isn't possible for someone with a healthy ego to have integrity as well?
Then, needless to say, came the Sharpton defenders.
"Don't knock Rev. Sharpton! He doesn't have the experience as Cenk didn't, but give him a chance. I'm sure he will improve if he's allowed to stay. This is a new venue for him and hopefully, he will find coaches to help him refine his presence on TV."
"Sharpton's rhetorical style may differ because of his background as a minister but there is nothing incoherent about him. I think Pazienia may not be experienced in listening to a diverse group of speakers."
The problem with Sharpton is that, unlike Cenk, it's not just what he says and how he says it -- but who he is. Cenk makes good points, he just does it poorly sometimes from a broadcasting perspective. Regardless, his passion is commendable and I do believe he's 100% sincere in his beliefs. Sharpton is on TV because nobody likes seeing himself on TV more (besides maybe Gloria Allred, but if I get into that we'll be here all day).