Sunday, March 17, 2013
Quote of the Day
"This began with Ed coming to me ... And I will tell you that Ed has an incredible following in the network ... Ed and I were talking about his contract, and Ed is a very sharp guy. He said he wanted to be here long term ... He wanted to spend more time in Minnesota. I said, ‘Well, Ed, I am extending the weekend. I need someone for 5 to 7. It’s critical. It’s going to be as important as 8 to 10 (weeknights).’ And he came back to me and said, ‘I want to do that long term.’"
-- MSNBC President Phil Griffin on the network's decision to move Ed Schultz from prime time to weekends
I like to think that after 21 years in the TV news business -- in the trenches, writing about it, or consulting on it -- I'm anything but naïve and I'm certainly well beyond the point of being able to be shocked. But then I read something like this and I'm reminded that it's still staggering how easily and shamelessly the people who are trusted to tell you the truth about what's going on in the world can not only lie to your face but lie to your face and expect you to believe it. When it comes to official office PR, everything you hear that comes out of the mouth of a TV executive is exactly that: PR. This is especially true at NBC, where the network is still suffering the consequences of its incompetent, damn-near sociopathic handling of the firing of both Conan O'Brien and, of course, Ann Curry.
Still, maybe the quote above isn't a flat-out lie. It's probably more like an example of almost admirably Clintonian verbal sleight-of-hand, where every word has been carefully chosen so that technically what Griffin is saying isn't a lie -- it's just not at all the truth.
It probably went more like this, with the reality of the situation in parentheses:
"This began with Ed coming to me. ('He stopped by my office to shoot the shit about something completely inconsequential and not at all related to his place at the network or his time slot.')... And I will tell you that Ed has an incredible following in the network. ('I have to say this. It's the nice thing to do. The truth is that a lot of the staff like him, but no one enough to actually risk his or her own job going to the mat for him.') ... Ed and I were talking about his contract ('This was at a different time than when he came to me to shoot the shit.') and Ed is a very sharp guy. ('Again, I have to say this.') He said he wanted to be here long term. ('He let me know he was going to be staying late tonight.') ... He wanted to spend more time in Minnesota. ('He put in for a week-long vacation in April, as he always does.') I said, ‘Well, Ed, I am extending the weekend. ('Fast-forward to when I actually approached him about pushing him out of prime time.') I need someone for 5 to 7. It’s critical. It’s going to be as important as 8 to 10.’ ('Okay, so not really, but by this point in corporate-speak this falls under forgivable-things-you-say-to-convince-someone-that-he-or-she-isn't-really-being-demoted-when-he-or-she-most-certainly-is. Call it a pride-booster, even if it's crap.') And he came back to me and said, ‘I want to do that long term.’ (Ed: 'Because the choice is obviously that or I get fired, and since I'm going to get paid the same amount either way... Oh, and I still get my free town cars, right?')"