The chatter has turned increasingly loud among Washington reporters that Mediaite‘s White House correspondent Tommy Christopher desperately wants to be invited on one of those fun-loving, free-wheeling panel-like shows on MSNBC. Shows like “Up with Chris Hayes,” or “NOW with Alex Wagner” and to an extent Ed Schultz‘ “The Ed Show.”
“Tommy Christopher is clearly abusing his Mediaite platform to pimp himself out and try to get booked on MSNBC,” The Daily Caller‘s Jeff Poor told FBDC in an email. “What’s pathetic is that it is as if he didn’t think anyone would notice.”
Christopher told us that “of course” he wants to do TV hits because “any sane person would.” As for Poor’s comments: “[He] has an obvious personal ax to grind. That individual has TC Derangement Syndrome, and based on his past homophobic remarks and history at virulently anti-gay MRC, it probably has to do with my unqualified support for LGBT rights. Poor is only punching up at me to raise his own profile. More power to him.”
Colby Hall, founding editor of Mediaite who now works at Clear Channel, shared a similar sentiment. “Jeff Poor is a classic example of an Internet troll who can only attract attention by slagging the hard work of others,” he told us. “At least Poor’s online behavior fits the billing that comes from his family name. Or maybe that’s an example of self-fulfilling prophecy.” (Poor said it is actually Hall who “trolls” NYT‘s Brian Stelter, “accusing him of stealing scoops.”)
Putting that bitchfest aside for a moment, Christopher writes on a host of topics for Mediaite. But most recently he has dedicated his prose to long, syrupy, features on Hayes and Schultz. They were broken into three parts each.
Here’s how Christopher described Schultz in a profile: “very friendly, open, gregarious,” “warm and easy, and free of the prima donna vibe you might expect from a liberal cable news star.”
In his profile of “Up,” Christopher, who constantly tweets about Hayes’ “uppers” fan club like he’s a member, gave the type of faux-reluctant compliment a man gives his fiance: “True to its title, [the show] forces a growing number of people to get Up With Chris Hayes.” While the piece on “Up” is spaced into three parts, it’s a mind numbing eight pages long. Muah, muah, muah!
When describing one episode of Wagner’s “NOW” he wrote, “I haven’t had many opportunities to catch my former White House colleague’s show, but if this crackling, funny panel segment is any indication, I’ll start making a point to.” XoXo, Tommy Christopher.
We’re fascinated with Christopher’s fascination with MSNBC, so we posed questions to him about it. The good news is, when Christopher gets bit, he bites back.
See Christopher’s thoughts on Olbermann being an “asshole” to him and about Hayes hypothetically throwing feces at his cameraman (his words, not ours).
1. You’ve written some extensive posts on Ed Schultz and Chris Hayes and one nice one about Alex Wagner. Why do they intrigue you so much? Well, Alex and I covered the White House together for about a year, and her work ethic really impressed me. I was all ready not to like her because she kind of replaced me at Politics Daily, but she won me over. When I’ve had the chance to watch (my kids take over the set most lunchtimes), I’ve really enjoyed her show.
2. And the others? When I heard about the Chris Hayes show, I was skeptical, because I thought he was a good panelist, but didn’t love his fill-in work for Rachel Maddow. Also, a two-hour show on Saturday morning without Scooby Doo in it didn’t sound like a winner. Again, the quality of the show just blew me away, but what really sealed it was the huge buzz the show got on Twitter.
Ed Schultz has been a leading liberal voice for many years, so as a liberal, it’s pretty natural that I’d want to interview him. He doesn’t do a lot of interviews, however, and it took me a long time to arrange that one. Ed is “intriguing,” to use your word, because his views are shaped, in part, by his past affliction with conservatism. He’s not a “checklist liberal,” he approaches everything with fairness in mind. I’m the same way. If a conservative is treated unfairly, my liberalism doesn’t impede me from defending them, it compels me to.
By the way, everything I just said is right there in those extensive posts you asked me about. Maybe the real question is, why didn’t you read them?
[I'm glad he asked. I did read Christopher's profiles; much to his delight, I'm sure. But often times journalists have more to say about their work than what they're allowed to write in their own stories. Perhaps writing a staggering eight pages on just one MSNBC program is some indication that Christopher does say everything he wants.]
3. Could you understand why such lengthy profiles come off as ass kissing?
I don’t really know how to respond to that. I mean, as a media critic, there are going to be things I like, as well as things I don’t like. I can’t be worried about how it looks to people, I just have to be honest. I mean, Keith Olbermann has never been anything but an asshole to me and my site, but I can still write nice things about him when he earns it, and when Chris Hayes eventually flips out and trashes his set, throwing feces at his cameramen, on live TV, I promise to cover that, too.
There are some (including Mediaite editors) who have questioned the way I roll these interviews out in several parts, which could contribute to the perception you’re talking about. This is the way I do all of my extensive interviews, for a few reasons. I believe in using as much of what people tell me as I can, mostly out of a sense of fairness. However, in our McNews culture, nobody’s going to watch a 30-minute interview online, so I have a general pattern of finding the most grabby two-minute clips and putting them out first, “preview”-style, then putting the less sound-bytey stuff in the final, longer post. It gives the content a better chance at viral exposure.
Now, an uninformed person might make the judgment you did, but anyone who has followed my career knows I roll out all of my long interviews this way.
4. If someone (me) were to say it looks like you’re trying to get noticed by MSNBC, what would you tell him (me)? They “noticed” me a long time ago. All of the cable networks have, and not always in a good way (MSNBC included). I’ve done extensive interviews/profiles/critiques of personalities from every outlet, and I’ve had the privilege of doing them on a site that is the go-to destination for media insiders, as well as consumers. You guys are pretty plugged-in, why don’t you ask around, and see if Fox News and CNN have “noticed” me?
On a side note…Christopher and Hall both asked that we include their answers in full. Journalists and Complete Idiots-at-Large: Want to know how to do your jobs? Just ask the Christopher-Hall duo. In Christopher’s case, he said if we bothered to follow-up with Poor with his quotes, we shouldn’t bother to use his quotes. “Hey, if the premise of this piece is to pawn your criticism off on Jeff Poor, and to shop my quotes to him, I’m not interested. … I’m not getting into a pissing match with that homophobic piece of shit.” Needless to say, we managed to get through the feature with and without their help. Thanks guys!
Christopher also wanted us to mention this: “Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, you ought to mention that the single lengthiest profile I’ve ever written anywhere was this one. It’s one of my best pieces of writing. Think she noticed me?” The profile on FBDC’s Betsy Rothstein, also favorable, ran in one sitting – not three parts.
Correction and clarification: We have corrected the above to reflect the fact that it was Christopher, not Hall, who said we were not to “shop” any quotes back to Poor. Apologies for the confusion.