Lawrence O’Donnell: What happened

If you have ever struggled to keep the lid on or lost it under stress, you may identify with the meltdowns of prominent media figures that have been leaked to the public over the years. I certainly do. I therefore haven’t found much amusement in the leaked video of MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell struggling to keep the lid on his anger management issues during the breaks on his show earlier this week.

That’s not to say that one can’t find the humor struggling to get out of the video. What really happened when O’Donnell melted down? The Washington Free Beacon’s David Rutz blows the lid off in the video below. Creatively speaking, he reports that “MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell was entirely justified in his viral off-camera meltdown[.]” As you can see for yourself, courtesy of Mr. Rutz.

STEVE adds: Well okay, this puts a different cast on things, though I have a simple question: How did TV anchors operate in the days before earpieces? And wouldn’t one solution be to take the earpiece out and go to old-school hand signals from a director or producer? One reason anchors have paper copies of their script is in case the TelePrompter fails. You could even explain to the viewing audience that you were having some technical difficulties. I’m not sure he needed to go full Howard Beale on everyone.

I’ve had two experiences somewhat similar. Once on a Fox News segment where I was a remote guest a bad feedback loop started up, so I started hearing myself, amplified very loudly, with a five-second delay, which is extremely disorienting when you are trying to talk. I simply took the earpiece out, explained I had a sound problem, finished my answer and put the earpiece back in to hear the next question from the host.

Another morning when I was filling in for Bill Bennett on the radio, the phone lines crashed just at the beginning of the long segment after the half-hour break, when I had a guest lined up. And I had nuthin.’ The Salem Radio format didn’t allow me to go to a break to regroup, and the studio crew was scrambling around like crazy calling headquarters and rebooting systems to try to get the phones back up, so I couldn’t banter with the studio crew to fill the air. I’ve never gone back to listen to that segment, because it was 11 minutes of the radio equivalent of free-form jazz improvisation. But there was no yelling at the crew.

I can appreciate that being the on-air person is a stressful job (I know just from doing radio that keeping the flow of a show going is a lot harder than being a guest and just answering questions), but I’d think O’Donnell has been doing this long enough that he’d be able to roll with control room problems.

See also this story about whether the original tape was leaked on purpose.

UPDATE: Steve is traveling by train and hasn’t been able to listen closely to the video. I hope it is apparent to one and all that David Rutz is up to his usual humorous mischief in the video.


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