Earlier this week, the news broke that MSNBC would be canceling two of their daytime programs and replacing them with a traditional newscast anchored by Thomas Roberts. However, it is difficult to see Roberts doing a “traditional” newscast in light of his recent spots.
First, some history. Roberts used to be an anchor and reporter for CNN and HLN (then known as CNN Headline News). He left in 2007. Three years later, he started working with MSNBC. Roberts used to host MSNBC Live, which was basically rolling news coverage. Nothing wrong with that. It’s a fitting show for a journalist and one of the few MSNBC personalities that NBC brings out on a regular basis and can do so without a major controversy or half of America discounting what he says.
However, Roberts left MSNBC Live in a shake-up that had him moved to Way Too Early. Roberts also started frequently appearing on Morning Joe, opining on the day’s top stories. It was during this period that Roberts caught flack for his Cinco de Mayo celebrations. The problem is that Roberts was no longer an anchor. Now, he was a host of a show. In addition, he was a guest on the following show and he would be giving his take on the same kind of stories we are now supposed to expect him to broadcast.
In some ways, this is similar to Brian Stelter’s role at CNN. Stelter is a Media Correspondent. His frequent analysis has led some, including Scott Jones of FTVLive, to call him a media critic. Stelter disputes that title. While it may seem like semantics, it is not. The viewer trusts a reporter and his or her take on what is happening. They trust it because the reporter is there and the viewer is not. However, the reverse does not hold up. While there are some cases of analysts doing reporting, the exceptions far outweigh the rule. This is because it is hard to trust a professional opinion-giver doing an impartial report. You associate the person with what they do the most. Professional analysts spend most of their time talking about the news, not covering it.
However, Roberts is now supposed to come back into the journalist mode. He will anchor what is being called a “traditional” newscast. Although, how traditional is it that the anchor of a news program used to give his opinion on the news on a regular basis?
I sure hope it is not the new, accepted traditional.