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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Former Milwaukee Anchor, All Growed Up on MSNBC, Unfairly Maligned by My Distinguished Colleagues on the Left

You remember Contessa Brewer, right? Used to host the weekend news on channel 4 here in Milwaukee? Well, now she's a daytime anchor on MSNBC, all national and whatnot.

Today, during MSNBC's coverage of Jerry Falwell's death, she was handed a piece of copy praising Falwell from the parody web site, www.whitehouse.org. She later tried to correct the mistake, but still didn't seem to know that it was a parody site, and didn't tell viewers that the praise for Falwell there was not serious. You can watch Josh Marshall of the Talking Points Memo family of blogs discuss it, with a clip of Brewer from MSNBC on YouTube. mcjoan at DailyKos front-paged it, even Atrios talked about it. We all had a good giggle.

But I don't think we're being fair, either to Brewer, or to her producer. When you google jerry falwell white house--as someone tasked with finding the White House's or president's opinion on Falwell might--the whitehouse.org page is the second hit. The first hit, though, is a whitehouse.gov press release from this afternoon headlined "President and Mrs. Bush Saddened by Death of Jerry Falwell." It is reasonable to conclude, then, that the google search would have turned up the whitehouse.org link as the top hit when the producer did his or her search.

Now, Brewer really should have been told that it was a parody--and should have told the audience that it was a parody. But she herself wasn't looking at the webpage. At most, blame the producer, not Brewer.

Am I feeling protective of the hometown girl* who made it big out there in the cold, hard world? Maybe. But of all the things to dump on the anchors for, this ain't one.

*Well, I'm pretty sure she's not from here. And didn't she used to be blonde?

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