MSNBC Execs “At Ease” With Dual Roles of Network’s Personalities

By SteveK 

Hours before the network’s next Presidential primary debate, the LA Times’ Matea Gold writes about the blurred lines at MSNBC between news and opinion.

The article raises questions about network personalities who anchor news and then often give opinionated analysis of it. Gold writes Keith Olbermann “stands out” in a landscape of commentators. The MSNBC anchor admits the model presents some “real headscratchers.” “Some of it is subtle, like can I do a special comment on Monday and anchor primary coverage on Tuesday?,” asks Olbermann.

NBC News SVP Phil Griffin, who is the executive-in-charge of MSNBC, says the news/commentary paradigm adds “a liveliness and richness to the conversation that you don’t see on CNN or Fox.” “Our people are not in straitjackets. They speak openly; they’re passionate. Do we leave ourselves open a little more? Yeah. But I think it’s part of our success,” says Griffin.

Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, questions the ability to separate the roles, saying, “In an environment where opinions are flying, words escape easily. It gets harder and harder to define the line of what’s acceptable.”

With the debate set for tonight in Ohio, Gold doesn’t see the opinion letting up. “As the 2008 race hurtles toward the general election, MSNBC’s role as a political lightning rod appears likely to persist,” she writes.

More: NYMag’s Daily Intelligencer thinks “MSNBC’s Phil Griffin Is Filled With Flowers and Light.”

Related: The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein has video of Tucker Carlson last night, blasting (again) the Clinton campaign’s treatment of the press…