Friday, March 6, 2009

'Morning Joe' vs. 'Fox & Friends'

This morning, I happened to be awake at 6 a.m. -- did I mention I love my wife? -- and while Mrs. Other McCain was in the shower getting ready for work, I relaxed contentedly by toggling back and forth between "Fox & Friends" and MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Fox fans can crucify me for saying this, but "Morning Joe" is the better program, and the superiority of the MSNBC show was blindingly evident today. While "Fox & Friends" had on Geraldo Rivera to talk about Rhianna (allegedly) getting beat up by her boyfriend, Joe Scarborough, Mike Barnicle, Pat Buchanan and Mika Brzrzbuyavowelski were talking about real news -- especially the economic meltdown and the inability of Congress or the Obama administration to do anything to stop it.

Excuse me for thinking that gotterdammerung on Wall Street is more important than a domestic-violence case involving two second-rate pop stars that no one over 30 ever heard of until Chris Brown (allegedly) beat Rhianna to a bloody pulp.

OK, there may be some kind of "counterprogramming" rationale behind Fox producers going with celebrity tabloid news at 6 a.m., but there is a word for that rationale: Wrong. Most of those who get up at 6 a.m. and switch to the early news are essentially serious people. They're in a hurry, getting ready to go to work, and they want to hear about news that makes a difference in their lives, which doesn't include the obnoxious Geraldo sharing gossip about two pop singers.

Furthermore -- and Steve Doocy's my Facebook friend, so I want to be careful how I say this -- the "Fox & Friends" crew seems too lightweight. The "Morning Joe" crew is anchored by a former congressman and features a veteran political adviser in Buchanan. Barnicle doesn't impress me much, but Brzrzbuyavowelski, though hopelessly liberal, is at least a smart, serious liberal.

To employ an overused word, the implicit gravitas of the MSNBC crew gives them more leeway to joke around amiably like a bunch of buddies just talkin' news, whereas Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade lack that sort of heft (Doocy wasn't on the show this morning). My impression is that Kilmeade is a hometown favorite in the New York market, so Fox isn't going to pull him from the show, and I wouldn't want them to pull my buddy Doocy, which makes Carlson the prime candidate for replacement, if the executives want to tinker with the formula.

Bay Buchanan? Kate Obenshain? I don't know. They need somebody with a credible government/politics background. They need to change something. The whole mood of the Fox show is wrong for the current economic and political climate.

Any serious news junkie toggling back and forth between Fox and MSNBC in the mornings -- and this isn't the first time I've done this in recent weeks -- can't help but notice the difference. "Fox & Friends" feels too fake perky-cheery like "Good Morning, Orlando" or something, whereas "Morning Joe" exudes a vibe that is simultaneously confident, smart, and relaxed.

Roger Ailes needs to be paying attention, because whatever the total Nielsen numbers, he's losing "the eyes of the influentials," to borrow a phrase from Jon Henke.

UPDATE: I'm getting some push-back in the comments, which is OK, but Hyscience agrees with me. To those who only watch Fox, you should try toggling between "F&F" and "MJ" some mornings. Maybe it's me, but the Joe show is less show-biz, more laidback, and I like that -- even if Barnicle and Brzrzbuyavowelski aren't to my taste.


  1. When has Morning Joe been right about anything, they sold us the turkey, that's causing the Dow to go through the floor. They repeated
    every lie against Sarah, justtoday that's stupid poll out of Florida, saying Sarah's looks make her look stupid. Hope you feel with your vote for Barr today.

  2. "Most of those who get up at 6 a.m. and switch to the early news are essentially serious people..."

    But most of those important people have many more administrative assistants, cookie pushers, coffee-fetchers, shoe-shiners, maintenance people, etc. who aren't relentlessly political and who do care about what happened to Rhianna--probably more than they care about the fluctuations of the prime rate.


  3. You know, I hate perky in the morning, and fake perky I just can't abide any time of day.

  4. Stacy, I've never watched the MSNBC morning show because, in general, I think MSNBC is garbage. I have caught moments of Fox & Friends and agree with you completely. I actually listen to the local news while I get ready. Since I'm up everyday at that time, maybe I'll check out MSNBC on Monday.

  5. Not a big fan of either show, and Morning Joe is full of hubris and idiocy for the most part. But, I agree. Fox and Friends blurs the line between tabloid and journalism.

  6. Umnnnhhhh....

    Ailes might be of the opinion that YOU are not the ONLY viewer-demographic in the USA.

    A lot of people I know watch F&F specifically because it IS lighter fare than the other end of the Fox day: news, O'R, Han, etc.

    (Not that I particularly care for O'R and Han...)

  7. When F&F started out, they had E. D. Hill as a co-host. She was infinitely better than Carlson. But Kilmeade and Doocy are not heavy-weights by any stretch.

    The thing is, Fox has always been a tabloid operation. Conservatives don't care because they sometimes include a conservative commentator in between updates on the Missing White Girl of the Week.

  8. Look, Carlson is the only reason I might pay attention when I turn on F&F when I get home at 6am from MY REAL JOB.

    Get rid if her and plenty of watchers are gonna be unhappy.

  9. There's a six o'clock in the morning, now?

    When did they add that?

    That's why more musicians need to hangout here. Stacy is like a bodhisattva in brown shoes to the music crowd. He knows about stuff like waking up before you go to bed (I'm guessing that's how people manage to get up that early) and how non-musicians get shit done. Then he 'splains it so those of us who beat on stuff, strangle wooden necks, or slobber into horns can understand.

  10. Well, as a left-coaster, when I am up at 6am, it is already America's Newsroom on Fox. And who can not wake up not peeking at Megan Kelly? So, for me, there is no F & F vs. Boring Joe. I get my news, and a hottie. What more can a red-blooded American man want in the AM?

  11. Fox and Friends is terrible. Embarrassing even.