MSNBC Dissed Me (Again)!

Friday, September 13, 2013

This was probably the only thing that The Daily Rundown got right in this recognition

Thanks to MSNBC's Chris Jansing, I learned a new word today (friggatriskaidekaphobia, or more commonly known as "fear of Friday the 13th") and I might have to affix blame to this rarely occurring calendrical event to explain how that channel screwed up (once again), this time on a very personal level, because I don't want to think that it may have been done deliberately.

It is a rare occasion these days that I get to sit down and watch Monday through Friday daytime television.  Back in March, I switched my work schedule from one that started in mid-afternoon and went on to the very early morning to a more traditional "9 to 5" (although it's more like 7:30AM to 3:30PM) day.   Prior to that change, I was a regular viewer of MSNBC's morning and early afternoon programming (9AM through 3PM) in order to get my daily recommended dose of news and politics.  Chuck Todd, Jansing, Thomas Roberts, Alex Wagner, Andrea Mitchell and Tamron Hall would form a seamless line of televised companions that played in the background while I went about my household chores, schoolwork, or preparation to go into the office.  I have posted about several of them and that channel here many times and, unfortunately, today's incident gets put into the "critical" category instead of the "praise" one.  

Things started off on a good note.  Catching the end of Morning Joe,  I set myself up in my recliner and waited for their "handoff" over to Todd for The Daily Rundown to begin right around 9AM.  I even "tweeted" about this occasion on my Twitter feed about two minutes into the show:

I left my Twitter account open because when I watch this show, I try to answer their daily trivia question.  Be it a 100 percent certainty or a "wild-ass guess", I try to send in my answer via that social network as quickly as I can in order for it to possibly be the first correct one submitted.  If that criteria is met (in addition to the right answer, the responses must also have "@dailyrundown" and "@chucktodd" in the body of the text), you then get an on-air "shoutout" from the host when an on-screen graphic featuring your Twitter handle is displayed.  I had this happen once before but, unfortunately, the show's producer screwed up and forgot to display the graphic (and Todd totally butchered my name when he announced the winner).  Since the show never corrected the error, I had to create my own and I posted it in a previous critique of their performance back in March.  I patiently waited for the "B-block" commercial break when they would announce the question.  Today's show focused on the fifth anniversary of the 2008 financial meltdown so the question would be related to the financial sector or to the government's oversight elements.  At approximately 9:25AM, the question was finally posted on the screen:


I will admit (and have done so before) that I normally use Google to search for the answers for these questions (besides, anyone who would readily know this information is probably busy at their job in DC or on Wall Street and not parked in front of their television) and I entered "united states treasury secretary" into the search engine.  One of the first entries that popped up on my screen was this one for the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.  I clicked on that link and browsed down the page for this information.  Fortunately for me, someone had already laid out concurrent timelines of these secretaries and their "bosses" in an easy-to-follow spreadsheet so I simply went to the bottom and worked my way up until I found the first one that had a POTUS overlap.  Here's a screenshot of that data:

The correct response was Nicholas F. Brady, Treasury secretary under both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush so I typed in his name (with an exclamation point for emphasis) after the pre-entered user names in my compose window and hit the "Tweet" button.

I submitted this item so quickly that I believe either the commercial break hadn't started yet or was in the very first seconds of the advertisement when I sent it in.  I didn't even wait for the show's "tweet" in order to respond (and it appears that none of the other submissions in response to that item was correct):

I patiently waited for another 20 minutes for the "E-block" commercial break (the one in between their two "gaggle segments") to await the results.  Here's Chuck's announcement:

Except for the name-butchering (again), the on-air "shoutout" went as it was supposed to go.  You normally see the question reposted, then the answer is superimposed below it, then the graphic with the winner's Twitter handle appears followed by the trivia suggestion slide.  All of that went rather smoothly (except for the name) and I could'be been happy with the entire experience but leave it to MSNBC to find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (and it happened via the same social network that I used to earn this recognition).

In addition to the television plaudits, the trivia contest winners are also supposed to be announced via the program's Twitter feed.  For example, here is how yesterday's contest played out online.  You first see the question being posted on their feed:

And, after the winner is announced on air, a similar item is then "tweeted":

Sadly (but oddly par for the course whenever I am involved), no such item was posted to announce my win.  It has now been over four hours and I have been constantly refreshing the feeds of both the show and its host but no such congratulatory message has shown up.  For my last win, that item was immediately displayed--one of the few things that they actually got right: do I handle this?  Can I just accept the victory and hold my head high?  Will I allow this to fester and consume the rest of my day (or weekend) when I have other things I need to do?  In a manner that I believe will satisfy both the need to celebrate and to critique, I will now post a checklist for producers of The Daily Rundown to reference when they are running their trivia contests (and it is written to apply to the primary or substitute host).  I'll try to make it as easy as I can to negate any possibility of this occurrence happening to future submitters--including me:

1.  When you have determined the winner (the first person to submit the correct information in the proper format), click on that submitter's Twitter profile and look for clues as to who this person actually is.  If they did that with me today, this is what they would've seen ( is readily displayed in the final line):

2.  Once you determine how to best address this person, prepare the teleprompter feed to spell out things beyond the name and/or handle (if necessary, phonetically spell it out).  I would've loved to call myself @JournalismOrBust! but Twitter wouldn't allow that many characters and I had to make some modifications in order for it to fit.  If necessary, talk to the host during the "D-block" break to prepare him/her for the name.  As I said in my previous post, I could live with "Job" (the formal name--pronounced "jobe") or having the letters sounded out (as in "Jay Oh Bee")--I honestly don't know how "Jo B" got into the mix.

3.  Have the graphics folks create the winner slide and ensure it is inserted into its proper place within the presentation deck for the trivia answer segment (that lack of production oversight is what happened to me back in March).

4.  Have your Twitter monitor type up the "tweet" declaring the winner and make sure that they send it out as soon as possible after the on-air announcement.

There you go, Mr./Ms.Producer...four short, simple steps to ensure that you do not "diss" any of your future winners and/or viewers.  I do realize that this is just a small component of your overall responsibilities but it is one that, if done in a haphazard fashion, poses the greatest risk of impacting your viewership--even if it does happen only one person at a time.

As I said in my introductory paragraph, I am hoping that this was just an accidental oversight on the staff's part or, perhaps, something that could be humorously linked to very rare events (like today's day and day-of-the-month combination).  It would be a very dark thing to think about if I were to actually consider intentional malice on MSNBC's part towards a longtime viewer (and sporadic critic) solely because he has called out your past errors in a very public manner.  Until I come across more solid evidence to support such a notion, friggatriskaidekaphobia will have to suffice.

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