MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski seemed in sort of a hurry to cut short or move along from the following exchange this morning between Mike Barnicle (a frequent Morning Joe guest co-host) and Jonathan Capehart (a frequent Morning Joe guest and Washington Post editorial writer):
BARNICLE: Jonathan, I don’t mean to put you on the spot here, but let me try.
CAPEHART: Oh, come on.
BARNICLE: Could you put your press pass off to the side and tell me…
BRZEZINSKI: Here we go.
BARNICLE: What goes through your mind — what goes through your mind as an African-American seeing Barack Obama on the verge of gaining the nomination as one of our two major political parties? Did you ever think it would happen?
CAPEHART: Um, I had hoped it would happen, and contrary to all of the people who e-mail me, calling me all sorts of, all sorts of names, you wouldn’t believe it …
BARNICLE: No, I would.
CAPEHART: …talking about, you know, just critiquing the campaign and Senator Obama’s performance in it, they sort of neglect or don’t realize the fact that, you know, of course I’m personally incredibly proud that there’s an African-American who’s this close to clinching the nomination and this close to possibly becoming the next president of the United States. I’ve often told friends that, you know, Senator Obama is actually elected in November, I will be crying from, you know, election night right through inauguration day. I’m human. There’s no way…
BRZEZINSKI: Fair enough. Fair enough. Andrew [Ward, reporter for Financial Times and the other guest in this segment], what are you expecting to hear? What will you be listening for in Clinton’s speech tonight?
What was Brzezinski hurrying away from? Was Capehart oversharing? Should he not have “put aside his press pass” and shared his personal feelings? Who among us expects an editorial writer (and cable news commentator) to be a dispassionate voice anyway? Or was this just too unplugged, telling us what he feels (as a person) versus what he thinks (as a journalist)?
Maybe Brzezinksi was worried about Capehart’s candor during the previous segment (and the possible reaction to—blogospheric blowback from — it) :
PAT BUCHANAN: Hasn’t there been a sort of a melding between a lot of journalists and this enthusiastic Obama campaign? The first African-American president, he’s young and he’s fresh. And all the journalists admitted later: yeah, we were for Jack Kennedy. We loved the guy. We didn’t like Nixon. Isn’t there some truth, in other words, behind [Bill Clinton’s] bitterness [toward the media]?
CAPEHART: You know, Pat, I think that… yeah. There is some truth to [Bill Clinton’s] bitterness [toward the media]. It’s hard to…Let’s remember. Reporters are human. Reporters are covering both these campaigns and it’s hard not to get swept up into the enthusiasm and the drama and excitement behind one of those huge Obama rallies…
Buchanan ended that segment by telling Capehart, “I want to see you at the Hillary rally tonight, Jonathan.”
Sure, Buchanan was joking around (as penance for — and redemption from— your Obama lust, I assign you one Clinton rally…and then all is forgiven!) but at bottom that’s what all of this is about: maintaining the appearance of neutrality (or fairness and balance, at least). That I don’t vote, therefore I don’t feel thing.
But Capehart would, apparently, have been swept away by Obama’s words and moved to tears by Obama’s success whether he told us so or not.
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.