Note to MSNBC: Please Give Lawrence O’Donnell His Own Show

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Substituting for Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” yesterday, Lawrence O’Donnell was at the top of his game during an interview about Republican opposition to health-care reform with Rep. John Culbertson (R-Texas). O’Donnell exposed the Republicans’ hypocritical opposition to the government option because it is “socialism” while insisting they support the equally socialist Medicare program. He also called Culbertson on his party’s lies over “death panels” and the rest. It was a joy to watch:

O’Donnell repeatedly pushed the conservative Congressman to give a straight answer about what federal entitlements he would cut. Culberson refused to give a response for several minutes before finally admitting that he would have voted for Social Security and Medicare despite the fact that they are government-run health-care systems.

O’Donnell kept pressing Culberson to explain how he can defend Medicare and Social Security since they’re government-run health care programs, otherwise known as “socialism.”

Culberson, who calls himself a “Jeffersonian Republican,” said he supports Medicare and Social Security but denied that they’re socialistic.

That prompted O’Donnell to ask Culberson: “If Medicare is not socialism, why don’t we just delete the over-65 part of Medicare and make it available to everyone? What’s your argument against that?”

Again, Culberson refused to give a straight answer and complained about O’Donnell’s persistence.

O’Donnell replied: “I don’t want you to spin your time away here.”

Culberson later admitted that he would have voted for Social Security in 1935 and “probably” would have voted for Medicare in 1965.

An exasperated O’Donnell asked the Congressman: “You know that Medicare is a completely government-run health care system and yet you’re saying you would have voted for it.”

Culberson’s response: “Yes”

By the end, O’Donnell accused Culberson of hypocrisy and more: “You lie to America about the evils of government-run health care because you people, not one of you liars about government health care is willing to repeal Medicare, to stand up and be consistent… ‘I hate government health care so I want to repeal Medicare’… That is a lie that you perpetrate every day.” [Emphasis added.]

Here’s part of O’Donnell’s bio from Wikipedia:

[He] was the Democratic Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Finance from 1993 through 1995. In 1992, he was Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

O’Donnell made himself a key figure in the coverage of the Valerie Plame scandal by naming Karl Rove as the primary source for Matt Cooper’s story. He is well known for his strong dislike of California’s current governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He calls himself a “practical European socialist.”

His aggressive debate style has led to several notable on-air confrontations. In October 2004, while a guest on the MSNBC show Scarborough Country, O’Donnell shouted “liar” over and over again at fellow guest Swift Boat Spokesperson John O’Neill…

During an episode of The McLaughlin Group in December 2007, during a discussion of Mitt Romney’s “Faith In America” speech, O’Donnell voiced criticisms of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that garnered a great deal of media attention. O’Donnell continued his comments about Mitt Romney and Mormonism during an in-depth interview with radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, wherein he criticized other religions including his own Catholic faith, but declined to publicly criticize Islamic fundamentalism because he said he was afraid for his life, to which Hewitt responded, “So you can be bigoted towards Mormons, because they’ll just send you a strudel.” Martin E. Marty, professor of religious history at the University of Chicago, said of O’Donnell’s comments, “criticism is one thing; hate-speech and untruths are another.”

O’Donnell was a writer for “West Wing,” and plays the role of the polygamist family’s attorney on the excellent HBO drama, “Big Love.”

He is one of the best of the substitute hosts on MSNBC, and certainly ought to be given his own show, perhaps in the hour before the “Ed Show” — and, what the heck, maybe MSBNC could have at least one show that is anchored from Los Angeles, which is not only where O’Donnell lives but also home of a huge segment of the network’s audience.

15 Comments

  • August 15, 2009 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    This is an excellent notion, one that is all over Leftblogistan. The question is, does O’Donnell * want * his own show? His CV seems to indicate that he likes being a jack-of-all-trades.

    The interview you’ve embedded was absolutely great, though.

  • Nikolai
    August 15, 2009 - 10:22 pm | Permalink

    I wish reporters would do this more often. It would sure make these droning, spinning pols speeches a lot more interesting with a sharp reporter calling them on their lies as soon as they were spewed. Or at the very least, have a brief Q and A period for the last minute or two of each segment where the pol is expected to DIRECTLY answer the reporters questions.

  • chabuka
    August 17, 2009 - 9:53 am | Permalink

    I would love to see Lawrence O’Donnell on his own show…he makes Chris Matthews look like a paid corporate wimp…but the question remains does Mr. O’Donnell want his own show….? I love it when Mr. O’Donnell turns right-wing interviews on its ears, and gives the “right” a bitter taste of their own medicine….out-talking them on the points…they damn near burst into tears…start babbling about not being able to answer the question..(while all the time doing their level best to avoid answering the question with double-speak, right wing talking bullets and rhetoric..!)….We need more, more, more interviewers on the left, like Mr. O’Donnell..but would corporate cable news allow Mr. O’Donnell a totally free rein..? After all they are a corporation and they error on the right, mostly.

  • Miss Daisy
    August 17, 2009 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    My fellow Progressives, I too am a Lawrence O’Donnell fan, and would LOVE for MSNBC to at least OFFER him his own show….G-D, can’t you just see this line-up:
    First The Ed Show, Followed by The “O” (O’Donnel) Show, next, The Rachel Maddow show, rounding out with Keith Olberman and maybe just maybe throwing Chris Matthews in there somewhere just for the heck of it . My absloute favorites are The Ed show and Rachel Maddow, and with O’Donnel in there, what an awesome tag team that would be

  • August 17, 2009 - 10:54 am | Permalink

    I agree that he should have his own show but I doubt that he would be willing to take the cut in pay.

  • Bill Burke
    August 17, 2009 - 11:04 am | Permalink

    Give Lawrence O’Donnell his own show? Don’t stop there. How about Lawrence O’Donnell for President. If only Obama had his chutzpa!

  • Zola Daniels
    August 17, 2009 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    Love to see Laurence have show. He at least will stop the guest if they spew lies,not facts. He really knows so much more than most of hosts. Thanks,
    Z. in Ill.

  • frank brown
    August 17, 2009 - 11:41 am | Permalink

    please give lawrence o’donnell his own show is the same thing i thought. i just couldn’t find any msnbc contact to say so other than mailing snail mail(oh, that’s real). you’d think msnbc had and e-mail for such things. more lawrence o’donnell!!!
    fab in ca

  • S in PA
    August 17, 2009 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I suggest the time slot betwen 6 and 9 am ET, you know, that slot between Willie Geist and Dylan Ratigan, nothing useful on there now, just some sort of infomercial for the GOP.

  • John Kooms
    August 18, 2009 - 12:09 am | Permalink

    After watching Mr. O’Donnell on hardball I was thinking the same thing , sure wish this guy had his own show . How reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeefreshing ! He should be Obama’s number one advisor or replace Reid .

  • charlie a
    August 18, 2009 - 9:09 am | Permalink

    I love the way Mr. O’Donnell pins him down, but he needs to let him answer. Then he can let him hang himself and O’Donnell can retort.
    I thought his tactics were too O’Reillyish.

  • TONI FIORE
    August 18, 2009 - 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I SAY GET RID OF MATTHEWS AND BRING ON O’DONNELL.IT WAS THE BEST INTERVIEW OF GOING AFTER THE GOP WITH THE LIES THEY SPREAD.ALSO-GET RID OF JOE IN THE MORNING, HE HAS BECOME A MEGA-PHONE FOR HIS PARTY.HIS EGO SINCE HIS BOOK HAS BEEN OUT HAS BEEN A REAL NO-IT-ALL.HE LETS NO ONE GET THEIR POINT ACROSS ONLY WHAT HE KNOWS IS TO BE FACT.MECKA HAS BECOME HIS PUPIT AND AGREES WITH HIM.THIS SHOW IS SET FOR A CHANGE AND & WHEN O’DONNELL IS ON THERE, JOE WON’T LET HIM TALK…

  • PSzymeczek
    August 18, 2009 - 5:13 pm | Permalink

    I’d say give O’Donnell Meet the Press! If he had been hosting with Rachel as a guest, between them they’d have reduced Dick Armey to a blubbering mass of protoplasm.

  • aasdf
    October 27, 2009 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    odonnel is a fucking idiot. he doesnt give the other guy time to respond at all. give him time to speak moron

  • Matt in Missouri
    November 5, 2009 - 6:28 am | Permalink

    Start a petition to get Larry Odonnell a three hour timeslot
    in the morning on MSNBC. Larry is magnetic for MSNBC.

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