MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell: A cable star with substance

Don't miss the Friday Washington Post profile of MSNBC's primetime host Lawrence O'Donnell, whom I would call the prime time star with substance. I told someone at MSNBC recently that I was going to write a piece similar the Post's. I'll give kudos to the Post (a rarity for me) for beating me to the punch.

What makes O'Donnell so good? Above all, when he lambastes the right, and Fox News, he does so from a position of substance based on his long high-level experience. He usually avoids the "why the left hates the right,” "why the right hates the left” and the latest gibberish from politicians and insiders that makes so much of "cable news" so similar to when one makes love to oneself with one's pitching hand.

O'Donnell's government background is similar to mine, very high-level and also very insider, but he does what I try to do, which is to put inside information about "what's really happening" on the side of the viewer, reader and listener. Not on the side of insiders.

This is very rare in "cable news.” The amount of falsehood, propaganda and spin from so-called insiders on "cable news" is a joke.

You would be surprised how many guests on "cable news" do not even believe what they tell the audience. Not O'Donnell. With Lawrence O'Donnell you know exactly where he stands and why he stands there. When he speaks truth about politics, or speaks truth to power, it comes from that combination of insider experience and integrity that is rare in media today.

I applaud O'Donnell for exposing the fraud of the Donald Trump campaign. I wrote the same thing: There was never a chance he would run for president. It was all baloney. And while I do not applaud the way NBC handled the "Trump campaign," I give NBC credit for letting O'Donnell tell the truth.

If only Fox would have the integrity to let hosts or guests on air blast some of what runs on Fox, which they privately deplore. I am not without sources within Fox, but cannot write what I am told privately because I was told "off the record.” Trust me.

Please note: Palin will not run for president. Period. For reasons similar to Trump. That too is a fraud, which only gives underemployed pundits who don't give a rat's behind about the really big issues the opportunity to utter sweet nothings about the Palin campaign as they did about the Trump campaign, as they do about the sister of the mother of the paramour who gave birth to Arnold's love-child.

O'Donnell usually rises above this stuff and tells truth to his audience. He has the guts to speak truth about power, and to power, because he cares about issues, and policies, and integrity.

O'Donnell has called himself (dare I say it) a socialist. Whether I would use that word or not, he told far more real truth about the heathcare debate, for example, than any other single person in cable news.

O'Donnell was one of the great producers and writers for "The West Wing," a terrific show that entertained its audience, but also gave its audience a real idea about how the White House works. O'Donnell believes, correctly, that there is no contradiction between quality television, successful television and informative television. This is a blessing in this business, at this time.

O'Donnell says he would like to do more in-depth work. I hope NBC or MSNBC would give him the chance, maybe an occasional two-hour special to let O'Donnell be O'Donnell, in the same way CBS once let Murrow be Murrow. Just give O'Donnell two hours every so often, and let him do whatever he wants with it, because if the execs trust O'Donnell, since O'Donnell trusts his audience, the result could be spectacular.

I am a believer in the Edward R. Murrow vision of television because I trust and respect the intelligence of the viewers. Lawrence O'Donnell comes out of the same vision of television that I have always believed in. Lawrence trusts the audience, and the audience comes.

So I tip my hat to Lawrence O'Donnell for a job well done. Like the old E.F. Hutton commercial said, O'Donnell has achieved his success the old-fashioned way: He earned it. And as Cronkite said: That's the way it is.

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