Political Animal


April 17, 2012 12:55 PM Why I Don’t Miss Doing Television

By Ed Kilgore

Back when I lived in Washington, like any political writer, I jumped at the chance of doing television appearances. MSNBC had not really taken flight at that point, so opportunities for airtime were more limited, and it was hard to be choosy. I even spent hours of my life I’ll never get back being insulted by hosts, guests and viewers as the token Democrat on Paul Weyrich’s old cable network. And as someone with the perfect face for radio, I eventually tired of eviscerating some foe in a gabfest only to be dressed down during breaks by some 22-year-old producer who didn’t like my hairstyle or choice of tie.

But the best reason to avoid appearing on political TV shows—or certainly Fox News—was nicely illustrated yesterday by veteran Democratic operative and talking-head Bob Beckel [Warning! Non-family friendly content just ahead!]:

I mean, there you are on a low-brow show with some right-wing instapundit yammering at you during a break, and sure, you can just lose it. Hell, the very presence of Neal Boortz—whose voice on the radio airwaves of Atlanta for most of my adult life always reduced me to spluttering rage—was probably enough to explain Beckel’s distracted f-bombing.

Better to leave TV to the pretty people, Bob, or to the occasional Maddow who can maintain zen-like serenity in the face of extreme provocation.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • nitpicker on April 17, 2012 1:16 PM:

    You mean Neal "The Worms Have a Vote" Boortz? How the hell do Republicans get away with saying the most despicable shit without being treated as pariahs while Hilary Rosen says, you know, the truth and she's persona non grata?

  • zandru on April 17, 2012 1:17 PM:

    Bless Bob Beckel! He ultimately apologized for using a foul word, but NOT for the intent.

    However, this is what the wingnutters live for - making Dems so furious that they break down like this. 76% of wingnuttery is driven by just this goal: making the lefties so angry that their brains drop out of the logic circuit, and they're reduced to incoherent screaming.

    ... which, incidentally, is also the way the Repubs like their base to be ...

  • wvng on April 17, 2012 1:21 PM:

    Speaking of Maddow, Ed, do you know why Kevin Drum has such a low opinion of her?

  • nitpicker on April 17, 2012 1:35 PM:

    Because Kevin Drum hates anyone who's smarter about geopolitics than him. He doesn't like a lot of people on the left.

  • danimal on April 17, 2012 1:57 PM:

    Drum gave Maddow's book a positive recommendation. Granted, he thinks Maddow is "snarky", but that's not the same as having a low opinion of her. See for yourself.


  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on April 17, 2012 2:10 PM:

    It took hardly a year in college for me to institute a strict do-not-argue-with-the-idiot policy. If I'm discussing/debating with somebody and they start making ridiculous claims, I immediately get the "AHHH-WOOOOO-GUH!!!" alarm followed by a mechanical directive, "DO NOT ENGAGE. REPEAT. DO NOT ENGAGE." I'll state my peace, agree to disagree, and move on with my good life. As much as I would love to jump in someone's ass and tear 'em a new one, I've come to the conclusion that's its not even worth the elevated blood pressure.

    But I'm fairly certain many elected officials don't really have the option of not engaging the idiocy. And bless them for it. (Somebody's gotta do it, eh.)

  • kd bart on April 17, 2012 2:26 PM:

    Never argue with an idiot or idiots. You'll never come off looking good. You might as well argue with the wall.

  • ComradeAnon on April 17, 2012 3:41 PM:

    Appropriate that second tier radio hater Boortz is mentioned on same day as second tier rocker Nugent. But I can't believe you'd listen to Boortz for more than 30 seconds every few years, Ed. That's all I could take until about 5 years ago.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on April 17, 2012 3:48 PM:

    To the above commenters: Unfortunately, I don't think we have the option of not arguing with the idiots. A cowardly and spineless insistence to not engage the right/wingnut population in this country has resulted in just the sort of political atmosphere and situation we're going through now. If instead, Democrats would have loudly and insistently debated the policies of ever more huge tax cuts, gun laws, deregulation in all areas, etc. we would not be where we are today. Not engaging idiots might help avoid aggravation but it is cowardly and in the end you end up living in their world, no yours.

  • Cha on April 17, 2012 4:11 PM:

    I'm glad you don't miss it, Ed. I don't miss watching it since 2002 when I could see how it was stacked for leading up to the War On Iraq.

    I hadn't watched tv news in years not having had one in Hawai'i and then I came to NY in 1998 and got into knowing what was going on in politics. I watched fox news for about a week and saw how sleazy they were. msnbc fired Phil Donahue before the bombs went off in Baghdad..couldn't have him messing with their narrative.
    Freaking corporatemediawhore$.

  • Mitch on April 17, 2012 7:57 PM:



    If we don't fight them, then who will?

    Do THEY hesitate to fight for their ideology?

    To not fight back is to let the plutocrats and theocrats win.

  • Texas Aggie on April 18, 2012 10:57 AM:

    Rachel is really a treasure, isn't she? I don't know how she does it. I wish we could clone her and send her all over. The world would be a much better place.