Butt, MSNBC!

Last week, Megan wrote about what she called MSNBC’s “thong day’s journey into night,” wherein a report about a woman suing Victoria’s Secret after suffering a scratched cornea allegedly caused by faulty thong underwear made the leap from MSNBC’s jokey “News You Can’t Use” segment on Morning Joe into “the next news hour — the straight-news, serious hour, ostensibly.” Megan observed “the irony of MSNBC’s poking fun at its own reporting of the story in the morning…and then, later on, reporting that story as a real news item.”

Well, it happened again today. And the person at MSNBC who determines which “News You Can’t Use” might be later dressed up and presented to viewers as useful after all apparently has a thing for underthings— or a lack thereof.

Among the “News You Can’t Use” delivered by MSNBC’s Willie Geist this morning was the following, accompanied by the on-screen graphic: “Derrieres and Diplomas,” and strategically blurred footage of a young man in cap and gown taking his diploma, bending over, and lowering his pants:

GEIST: [A]n 18-year-old graduating senior at a high school in Westchester County…has been arrested, believe it or not, for disorderly conduct, after he dropped trou while getting his diploma. You shouldn’t do that with grandparents in the crowd, et cetera, et cetera. but let me say the school board is overreacting…’We’re taking steps to pursue this matter in court.’ The man is due in court tomorrow. Relax. it’s just a mooning.

Joe Scarborough chimed in that this might “send a message to would-be mooners,” adding that “we had guys in Congress that would do that all the time.” Mika Brzezinski wondered what Willie’s parents would think and, after some additional back-and-forth, announced, “It’s the top of the hour. Let’s raise the bar. Willie, you lowered it. Now we must raise it.”

Only to have it lowered once again as the “Mooning Graduate” story re-appeared later on MSNBC this morning as “regular news” (of the “useful” variety, one once felt safe to presume). Anchor Monica Novotny moved the ball forward in her report, revealing the student’s name and the detail that his diploma was taken back “because, buddy, the teachers are still in charge of graduation.”

MSNBC, The Place For Politics. And The Place For News We Once Thought You Couldn’t Use But Now See That You Can. Or At Least That You Will. MSNBC, The Place for News You Can’t Use…And Can’t Escape?

While we’re questioning MSNBC’s news judgment (or at least the consistency of its application): That Sports Bra Story MSNBC has been reporting all morning? The one about the 24-year-old American injured and stranded alone in the Bavarian Alps who was rescued because she removed her sports bra and attached it to a nearby cable, thereby alerting area lumberjacks to her location? It would seem perfect “News You Can’t Use” fodder, all (under)things considered. And yet, this story got its start on MSNBC’s “Sports Shot” this morning (because, naturally, of the mountain climbing angle), with anchor Fred Roggin commenting that emergency workers reached the woman so quickly “maybe because they knew there was a bra-less woman at the summit.”

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.