By Jeffrey Lord on 3.22.12 @ 6:09AM
Defining media deviancy downward: Are Brokaw, Williams, Lauer, Roberts really proud?
Ed Schultz, Phil Griffin, and MSNBC.
A revealing relationship, yes?
With NBC, Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, Matt Lauer, and the parent company of Brian Roberts’ Comcast all in the mix, a very revealing relationship.
You have to wonder, are these guys really proud of what’s going on here? Really?
And how many cats are holding the usually voluble tongue of “conservative” Joe Scarborough?
But first, here’s another NBC story. A telling one. Particularly considering the presumed standards of Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Matt Lauer, and Brian Roberts. Standards that have now apparently been abandoned faster than some celebrity wannabes ditch husbands.
The President of NBC was in trouble.
Rumors had surfaced of drinking binges at the Beverly Hills Hotel. When his boss showed up at NBC’s Burbank studios, the NBC president looked disheveled, unsteady, the pits.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was Mexico.
At an NBC affiliate gathering, the network president’s condition, evident throughout, became the talk of the meeting. Things got worse when the man returned to NBC’s New York headquarters in Rockefeller Center. The drinking continued — and suddenly, the string had run out.
Summoned to his boss’s office in a moment of sobriety, the meeting was both brief and brusque.
The President of NBC — a popular and well-respected man in the television industry — was fired. Out. Done.
A press release was issued, stunning his industry peers, and making no mention whatsoever of the real reason for the NBC executive’s abrupt departure beyond the usual bromide of his desire to pursue other interests.
The firing caused an internal uproar at NBC. When the parent company board of directors meeting took place there was a furious battle. The fired president’s supporters were enraged at the callous way such a distinguished career had been terminated. There were threats of resignation from prominent and powerful board members.
Finally, with reluctance, the man who had done the firing took the floor. Taking a breath, he related what had happened and why — in quiet detail. The disruptive effect the drinking had on relations with NBC affiliates. The repeated waves of uncertainty in the network’s decision-making process caused by severe drinking bouts. At one point, another NBC senior executive, a friend and ally of the fired president, reluctantly spoke up to confirm the stories. They were, he said, all perfectly, sadly, quite true.
Flaring tempers calmed as the reality of it all sank in. A generous severance settlement with the departed president was agreed to. There would be no public discussion of what had happened. The disagreement that day would not go beyond the board meeting. And the official minutes of the board meeting would, it was agreed, contain no reference to the incident whatsoever.
And the fired NBC president? What happened to him?
He went to the White House — where his next job was working as a senior aide to the president of the United States.
THIS STORY EMERGES in a little known book called The General: David Sarnoff and the Rise of the Communications Industry by Kenneth Bilby. Mr. Bilby was a close associate of David Sarnoff’s. The ultimate Sarnoff insider who was a two decades-long member of Sarnoff’s management team.
The book, a combined biography and insider’s account of the legendary Sarnoff — the man who was known in his day as the creator of the modern NBC and “the father of television” (not to mention color television) — tells quite a tale.
And in reading it, one is left speechless at just how far the network’s mindless obsession with all things fashionably left — otherwise known as MSNBC — has now managed to steer the entire NBC network’s reputation into a veritable sewer of hatred.
Let’s start with the beginning — and the emergence of David Sarnoff.
For those who came in late David Sarnoff’s story is wonderfully American. Sarnoff was born in 1891in a small Russian village in an area where, Bilby says, “the czars had sequestered their Jewish subjects since the rule of Catherine the Great.” Father Abraham, desperate to get his family out from a world of pogroms, poverty, and years of enforced service in the Czar’s army, resolved to get his wife and children to America. Abraham Sarnoff went first, immigrating to New York’s Lower East Side where he earned money working as a painter and paperhanger for five years before he could afford to get his wife and children to America at the price of $36 dollars a person. In 1900 David Sarnoff, at age nine, finally began the long journey to what Ronald Reagan would eventually call the “shining city on a hill.”
On arrival, things were tough. The Sarnoff family lived in a $10 a month flat on the fourth floor of a tenement repeatedly vibrating to the rumble of elevated trains. A single befouled toilet was at the end of the hall used — by all the tenants. The young boy Sarnoff, says Bilby, despaired. Eventually, the light went on as he played stickball with other kids. “We had no Cossacks to fear.”
In the course of his new life as an American, David Sarnoff’s energy and ambition blossomed. He learned English, became a newsboy, then had his own newsstand. He got an education, and resolved to become a journalist. His first job? The job he was offered? As a messenger delivering telegraphs. The young Sarnoff became enamored with electronic communications, and mixed with his desire to be a journalist, he never looked back.
In short order he had a job working for the man he would later call the first true hero of his life: Guglielmo Marconi. The man known today as the father of long distance radio transmission. The “wireless.”
With that, Sarnoff’s young career was off and running. Eventually, Sarnoff was at hand when the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company morphed, with others, into what became the Radio Corporation of America — RCA. In 1926, David Sarnoff had organized the National Broadcast Company. With NBC making use of the young Sarnoff’s passionate belief — already a hit — that radio could be used not simply for point-to-point transmission but broadcast to mass audiences, all of whom would be able to afford a radio.
In 1924, Sarnoff, filled with a desire to serve in the military despite being a rising star in the communications industry, was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the Signal Corps reserve. Eagerly, he filled the two weeks a year duty required, his professional star now rising even more rapidly. By the spring of 1944, now a full Colonel in the reserves, he was asked to join Dwight D. Eisenhower in London — to prepare the wireless communications that would be needed for D-Day and the fierce battle beyond.
Writes Bilby of Sarnoff:
His title would be special assistant for communications to the supreme commander, and his first job would be the construction of a broadcasting station powerful enough to reach all the Allied Forces under Ike’s command in the European and Mediterranean theaters. It had to be ready by D-Day.
The job was a nightmare. Sarnoff had to deal with the same Allied jealousies on communications issues that Eisenhower was dealing with on military issues. The BBC balked — American David Sarnoff in this job meant more coverage of Americans on the beaches. And so on. And on. Sarnoff, like his boss Ike, dealt with the multiplicity of egos and national loyalties with aplomb, personally winning the case with Winston Churchill.
When it was all over? Sarnoff was promoted to Brigadier General for his service, earning him the designation ever after as “General Sarnoff.” Returning home, ever after he was associated with everything that was NBC.
It was his son Robert Sarnoff, who, after stints for and with various others at NBC (notably Pat Weaver, the creator of the Today Show and better known to movie fans as the father of actress Sigourney Weaver), wound up as first the president of NBC, then president of RCA. By the 1960s he was the chairman of RCA, his powerful father still very much a presence.
It was with the Sarnoffs that Robert Kintner, then himself the president of NBC, ran into trouble because of a considerable drinking problem.
AND THIS IS WHERE it helps to have a history of NBC when looking at Ed Schultz, Al Sharpton, MSNBC president Phil Griffin and those NBC News personalities that appear on camera at MSNBC, lending legitimacy to the whole charade. Names like Brian Williams or Tom Brokaw or Andrea Mitchell.
What do you think David Sarnoff, who pushed to fire an NBC president because the guy was embarrassing NBC with his sad case of alcoholism, would have to say about hiring MSNBC television hosts captured on tape shrieking about a “punk faggot” or spewing the “n-word”?
What do you think, to be specific, David Sarnoff would say if he saw this partial list — say again, partial list — compiled on Ed Schultz by the perceptive Brent Bozell team over at the Media Research Center?
• Ed Schultz Paid Nearly $200,000 By Unions in 2011, according to Labor Dept.
• Ed Schultz Producer Apologizes for Comparing Va. Republicans to Nazi Death Camp Doctors
Note on the above: Remember why Abraham Sarnoff left Russia? Because, among other things, of pogroms. Pogroms: defined by Websters, for the unknowing, as an “organized massacre, esp. of Jews.” Can you imagine what David Sarnoff, who worked on Eisenhower’s military staff — the Eisenhower who made a point of filming the death camps after the victory over Nazis — would think of that from one of his stars?
• Ed Schultz Claims Gingrich Wants Poor Kids Working as ‘Slave Labor’ in Schools
• Schultz to Dem Senators Who Voted Against Obama: “It’s Gonad-Cuttin’ Time”
• MSNBC’s Schultz Slams ‘Damn Political Phony’ Marco Rubio as ‘Not a True American’
(Note: This of Senator Rubio, the child of Cuban exiles and immigrants.)
• Ed Schultz: ‘Pretty Boy’ Rubio Will Be ‘Ugly’ to Senior Citizens
• Ed Schultz Edits Rick Perry to Falsely Accuse Him of Making Racist Remark About Obama
• Schultz Admits Editing Perry, Doesn’t Apologize for Falsely Accusing Him of
Making Racist Remark About Obama
• Ed Schultz’s MSNBC Apology to Ingraham Preceded by Churlish Non-Apology on
• Ed Schultz: ‘The Republican Party Stands For Racism’
(Note: as well documented here and here, progressives and racism go together like peanut butter and jelly. Without the second, the first would get nowhere. They have been paired in support of slavery, segregation, lynching, the Ku Klux Klan, racial quotas, illegal immigration — and now voter ID. All Mr. Schultz has to do to see how the racism game is played by progressives is look next door on the MSNBC program schedule to Al Sharpton. Who, as you will recall, was captured here spewing — spewing — the ultimate in racial slurs. Any word from Ed Schultz on that? Naahhhhhhh. That’s just the good ole’ Reverend Al. Heck, if spewing the “n-word” is OK with Phil Griffin, Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, Andrea Mitchell and Brian Roberts, why should Ed Schultz care?
• Ed Schultz: Republicans are ‘Bastards Who Want to Destroy the American Dream’
• Schultz’s Class-Warfare ‘Lean Forward’: Why Are We Letting Top 2% Win Over Other 98? (Note: this on a television network that wouldn’t exist unless a poor immigrant Jewish kid from Russia hadn’t worked his chops off to create a — yes — corporation. A corporation that now proudly employs…. Ed Schultz. Who quite happily takes the corporation’s money.)
• Ed Schultz Attacks Joe Lieberman’s Lobbyist Wife: ‘Does the Word Whore Apply?’
(Note: as an older man, General David Sarnoff had earned his way into the company of presidents and polite society. Can you imagine what he would have thought had he learned from his celebrated friends that one of his network’s hosts said of the wife of the U.S. Senator from Connecticut that she was a “whore”? Not to mention that the Senator’s wife in question — Hadassah Lieberman — was Jewish?)
• Ed Schultz: Conservative Broadcasters Want Obama Shot
There’s more. A whole sewage system more of this kind of thing.
Believing as I do in free speech, if this is what has now come to represent the network created by David Sarnoff — the network of Huntley and Brinkley, John Chancellor, Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Matt Lauer, and the rest — so be it. For all I know, maybe the latter three, plus Comcast’s Brian Roberts, really are proud of all this. They’re not neutrals, they’re left-wing journalists and after all this time are happy to rip the mask of studied neutrality off and flush it straight to the…sewer.
God bless America and their unassailable right to free speech. Everybody watching now knows what’s up.
BUT HERE’S THE THING. Remember the President of NBC who was fired by the Sarnoff’s because of his alcoholism.? This was the mid-1960s, and today that man might be treated differently in terms of having treatment sought. But the firing? What that represented clearly to the Sarnoffs was that they had standards.
High standards. It was unacceptable to be representing NBC while repeatedly, seriously, drunk. And when enough was enough, the man was out. In fact, in a remarkable display of fairness, the Sarnoffs already knew Robert Kintner was rumored to have this very same problem — while serving in his previous job as the president of the new, upstart ABC network. Robert Sarnoff thought he could help Kintner, recognized his talents — which were considerable — and hired him anyway. Sarnoff guessed wrong. And his father’s standards — NBC’s standards — were going to be upheld.
Obviously, the Sarnoff standards have changed at NBC. Make that lowered.
Now, as Tucker Carlson’s the Daily Caller has illustrated with chapter and verse, a media version of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s observation about the problem of “defining deviancy downward” is defining NBC’s integrity downward. As seen here and here, David Sarnoff’s legacy is now actively and eagerly being prostituted to the far-left Media Matters.
As the DC noted of how this particular tale of defining media deviancy downward worked with MSNBC:
High profile though these victories against conservatives were, Media Matters has perhaps achieved more influence simply by putting its talking points into the willing hands of liberal journalists. “In ‘08 it became pretty apparent MSNBC was going left,” says one source. “They were using our research to write their stories. They were eager to use our stuff.” Media Matters staff had the direct line of MSNBC president Phil Griffin, and used it. Griffin took their calls.
Stories about Fox News were especially well received by MSNBC anchors and executives: “If we published something about Fox in the morning, they’d have it on the air that night verbatim.”
Just so everyone understands the food chain.
The leftist gazillionaires fund the leftist dirt diggers who write the leftist scripts for the cable sibling of David Sarnoff’s old network now given over to fulltime leftist journalists — who in turn make headlines out of leftist phonies seeking to intimidate Rush Limbaugh’s sponsors or whomever’s sponsors.
Can you imagine the thoughts that would have gone through David Sarnoff’s head if, realizing this, he had received letters like this one from the Media Research Center’s Mr. Bozell? Anger? Perhaps. Ruffled feathers at being confronted? Maybe.
The real point, of course, is that what is being done now to NBC would never — ever — have occurred on General Sarnoff’s watch to begin with.
It simply wasn’t in Sarnoff’s character.
David Sarnoff’s mission, concludes his biographer, was to “innovate, to inspire.” No one will ever confuse David Sarnoff with Ed Schultz — or Al Sharpton.
Ed Schultz’s apparent mission, and quite obviously MSNBC’s, is to be a troubadour of an extremist philosophy perpetually linked to the politics of envy, class warfare, and judging others by skin color — when not dipping into misogyny by degrading Laura Ingraham as a “slut” or Hadassah Lieberman as a “whore.” Not to mention trying to stir fear of that dreaded “other” — in this case going after Latino Marco Rubio as “not a true American.”
The legacy of the Russian Jewish boy, brought to America by a desperate father seeking to give his family a better life in the city on a shining hill, a boy who grew up to be “the father of television” and create a golden era of television — color television — in both news and entertainment — that legacy is now in totally other hands. In hands intent on not only dragging NBC through a sewer of hate, but living in the sewage. Hands that belong to people who appear to have, as The American Spectator’s own R. Emmett Tyrrell observed, “sewers for brains.”
NBC has traded the standards of David Sarnoff for those of Ed Schultz, Al Sharpton, Phil Griffin and Media Matters.
What a pity.
Someone who wakes up in the conservative Morning, Joe, should be ashamed of himself.
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at email@example.com.
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