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Rachel Maddow at Rutgers

I went to see Rachel Maddow speak yesterday morning bright and early at Rutgers (my alum!). The event was a part of a series of events the Eagleton Institute of Politics is holding (I went to see Nicole Wallace speak several weeks ago as well and plan on going to see Valerie Jarrett next month also).

Nicole Wallace was the Former Communications Chief under President George W. Bush and also served as the Communications Director for John McCain’s presidential campaign. You can see what she said at RU in the following video:

Anyways, back to Maddow’s visit: Yesterday’s program was called “A Conversation with Rachel Maddow” and it was basically a Q and A forum that lasted about an hour and a half. Initially Ruth Mandel (the Director of the Eagleton Institute) asked a bunch of questions before turning it over to pre-approved questions from RU students and then finally opened up to a few questions from the rest of the crowd.

I liked what Maddow had to say for the most part and one of the lines that resonated with me was that she said she had an opinion and a point of view on things that she expressed, but not an agenda. She went on to explain that her past work involved a lot of activism — and at that time she did have an agenda — to get more attention to the causes she cares for so deeply.

If you’ve ever seen her show, you probably agree that her team researches like no other to prepare for the show. It was quite surprising (to me at least) when Maddow told the RU crowd today that they always choose what stories they are going to use for the day’s show on the day of at their meeting that starts around 2 PM and then everybody on the entire team from the producers down to the interns research and how disorganized everything is.

That and the fact that she is apparently a big “downer” of a person, “depressive” and a “big grump”? Certainly did not come off as one today. Sarcastic, maybe — but we all already know that.

One of my favorite questions asked today probably was when Ruth Mandel asked Maddow who she imagines she’s talking to when she’s looking directly into the camera and passionately making her points. Maddow’s response, however, was ‘no one in particular’… just others who agree with me.

Another point I just remembered was that Maddow did point out that when she accepted the contract with MSNBC one of her only requests was that she had the freedom to choose what she wanted to talk about on her program and that MSNBC could not tell what she could or could not talk about… but also noted that she fears on a daily basis that it could be her last show and that she could be fired any day.

Oh, and of course someone asked whether MSNBC and FOX News were actually two sides of the same coin, but she dodged the question saying something to the likes of she doesn’t watch much television or something, She also wouldn’t comment on the Olbermann’s situation and just said in due time Olbermann himself would tell his story — probably after he’s settled with his new network.

One of the biggest things I disagreed with Maddow on would be her take on Pakistan. To preface, someone (I believe Mandel?… anyhow when the video is uploaded, I’ll post it here) asked Maddow that she claims to talk about the stories that no one else is talking about and wanted to know what was the number one story that no one else was talking about? Maddow’s answer was Pakistan. This is a whole another VERY LONG blog post so I’ll just leave that there.

I’ve said before that the only show I regularly watched on MSNBC was Keith Olbermann’s, but my brother Ayaz absolutely loves Maddow’s show. I will have to ask Ayaz what he thought of what Maddow said though because he agrees with Maddow on pretty much everything.

I didn’t take my camera because but here are some pictures from my phone — but I’m warning you they came out terrible especially because of the lighting:

Fortunately, Rutgers (for the most part anyways *cough* Snookie *cough*) invites pretty interesting guests, and today was no different.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

MSNBC and Olbermann

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Countdown with Keith Olbermann is was the only news show I regularly watched on MSNBC. I have always preferred CNN over MSNBC.

I’m feeling a little under the weather today, so I didn’t have the T.V. on so you can imagine my surprise when suddenly I started reading tweets about MSNBC and Olbermann parting ways (to put it nicely).

If you missed the show like I did, here’s a clip I found online:

And here’s MSNBC’s statement.

MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC’s success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.

Am I the only one who wants an explanation? Somehow that statement above doesn’t seem enough. I am hearing it has to do with the NBC and Comcast merger deal going through

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

MSNBC Suspends Keith Olbermann

So as you may (or may not have) heard, MSNBC ‘indefinitely’ suspended Keith Olbermann earlier today in light of the news that Olbermann donated to three democratic candidates in the midterm election. Olbermann, who acknowledged the contributions, made the maximum legal donations of $2,400 to each of the three candidates.

According to POLITICO:

NBC has a rule against employees contributing to political campaigns, and a wide range of news organizations prohibit political contributions — considering it a breach of journalistic independence to contribute to the candidates they cover.

It’s not like Keith Olbermann claimed to host a nonpartisan show – EVERYONE knows that the majority of times, he support liberals candidates and liberal causes. How is this any different from how he expresses his point of views on the show (along with all of the other journalists)? When has Olbermann ever claimed to be an impartial journalist?? That’s like saying a journalist on Fox News is impartial.

It’s always been an on-going battle at my house — I like CNN while my brother likes MSNBC — but the ONE show I actually liked on MSBNC was Keith Olbermann’s. The same article I mentioned earlier stated that Olbermann tripled MSNBC’s ratings at 8 p.m. Without a doubt, MSNBC’s rating will plummet without Olbermann.

What do you think about MSNBC’s decision?

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Twitter – the new facebook

Is it just me… or did twitter suddenly become really big this week (for news reporters)?

It seems as if all the journalists on the major news channels (at least the ones i watch most often) have joined it this weekend and keep talking about it on their shows. It’ll be interesting to see in the next couple of weeks. Even though I’ve been using it for a while now, I’m not sure yet of all the terminology (I think a person who uses twitter is a “tweep”, and the message is a “tweet”… they sound like insults :/), but so far i like getting all of my news updates all at one place. So far, not many people i know personally have joined in on twitter, so for now it’s just a news source.. and it’ll be interesting to see twitter grow as more and more people join.

It’ll be interesting to see if twitter becomes as big as facebook.. or even bigger (it has definite potential).

For those of you who are beginners at twitter, here are some tips to start you off:

1. Shrink Your URLs
Since you only have 140 characters to work with, instead of sharing a long URL, use one of several URL-shortening services to shrink that link, like tinyurl.com.

2. RT = Retweet
To copy and paste someone else’s tweet, just put “RT @name” in front of their tweet and post it yourself so you give the original tweeter/tweep(?) credit for it as well.

3. @ Sign
To reply or someone on Twitter, place an @ sign in front of their Twitter name at the beginning of the message.

Olympic Highlights

The highlights of the Olympics from my point of view so far:

Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final in swimming: in what was a very exciting race, Jason Lezak helped secure another gold medal at the end of the race. According to the Yahoo! Sports Blog (I know – I can’t believe I was on it either!),

“When he dove into the pool as the anchor of France’s 4×100-meter relay team, [Alain] Bernard had a .60 second lead over American Jason Lezak. Even though the 32-year old Lezak is one of the best sprint freestylers in the world, the .60 lead held by Bernard should have been insurmountable. Bernard held the world record in the event. A world record holder with a sizable lead… you do the math.”

And of course in my favorite sport – gymnastics:

In the women’s team final, the U.S team finished with a silver medal as the Chinese dominated the game throughout. My favorite was undoubtedly the Chinese performance on the last rotation in the floor exercise as it was incredibly great and they had so much fun with it. It was absolutely amazing to watch. In the Women’s Individual All-Around Final: American Nastia Liukin won the gold, American Shawn Johnson won the silver and Chinese Yang Yilin won the bronze.

Then, in the individual competitions:

U.S. gymnast Nastia Liukin and her rival He Kexin get the same exact score on the uneven bars, but of course this is like the one sport that only awards one gold. With the IOC tiebreaker rules, Kexin won the gold medal, leaving Liukin with the silver medal. I read in an article that the reasoning was that: “Both scored 16.725, but He got the nod because her execution marks were closer to a perfect 10 than Liukin’s.” I found that pretty unfair – if they both got the same score, they both should have received the gold medal, like in most of the other sports. What is even more wrong is that Kexin had more visible mistakes!

Throughout the gymnastic competition, there was talk if He Kexin was even old enough to participate and it’ll be neat to see what comes out of that report. Several reports have He being as young as 12 years old.

And now onto specific people:

Michael Phelps: Outrageous. Wow. Incredible. I don’t even know where to begin with him. 8 gold medals, 7 world records.. what a week for him! With the eighth gold, Phelps eclipses Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals and seven world records set at the 1972 Munich Games.

Earlier this week I read something on the Yahoo! Sports blog (I know – I STILL can’t believe I was on it either!) that I found to be so true:

The biggest accomplishment for Phelps might not be the eight golds, or the seven world records or the $1 million bonus from Speedo. The greatest feat for Phelps was that, for one week, he turned everyone in America into a swim fan. People who couldn’t tell you the breaststroke from the butterfly were hanging on each of his races, cheering on Phelps like they were lifelong fans.

I mean I am definitely not a sports fan in general, except for watching Rutgers Football games and the Red Sox here and there, but I got really into swimming this week. The excitement was incredible.

Usain Bolt: Jamaica’s 21-year-old Bolt breaks own world record to win the gold medal in the 100m dash without even trying finishing at 9.69 seconds.

Constantina Tomescu: a 38-year-old Romanian runner, won the marathon with like no competition. Her closest competitor at the end of the race was 22 seconds behind her as she held a steady and large lead for a good part of the marathon– and for sometime in the race she was even leading by over a minute. At 38, she is the oldest Olympic marathon winner.

Dara Torres: Proving that age is but a number, 41-year-old Dara Torres, lost the gold medal and won the silver medal by one-hundredth of a second — the same margin that helped keep possible for Michael Phelps to break Mark Spitz’s record. Torres won the silver medal in each of her three races this week.

And finally, Bob Costas himself as the host. He is incredibly funny and such a great host. I’ve definitely enjoyed his remarks throughout.

The idea of the Olympics is so incredible: to watch the best of the best from each country compete with one another. Even people like myself, who aren’t into sports at all, get so into it.. it’s amazing.

What I love even more is how for two weeks it’s like a bonding time. With each of our increasingly busy schedules, it’s been neat to make time to sit as a family every night to watch the Olympic events together.

Tim Russert’s Memorial Service

This afternoon was the memorial service that MSNBC held in memory of Tim Russert. Tim Russert’s son, Luke, also spoke. Tim Brokaw, Brian Williams, Maria Shriver, and Luke Russert were just four of the ten speakers who spoke in the service.

Here are the links to watch most of the speakers from the memorial service from this afternoon:

Tom Brokaw:

Betsy Fischer:

Sister Socciarelli:

Mike Barnacle:

Brian Williams:

Doris Goodwin:

and finally, Luke Russert:

In addition, make what you want of it .. but the service ended with the song “Over the Rainbow”.. and ironically enough, as everyone was leaving the service… there was a rainbow awaiting them.

Tim Russert

As I was sitting at work today in the city, I received a breaking news alert on my cell informing me that after suffering a sudden heart attack and collapsing, Tim Russert died today at the age of 58. Russert was recording voiceovers for Sunday’s “Meet the Press” program when he collapsed, the NBC News network said.

I can’t even begin to explain how weird it feels because for as long as I can remember my dad and I have watched “Meet the Press” mostly every Sunday.

Tim Russert will definitely be missed. He was admired by many. His charisma and way of asking the tough questions led to such a large group of admiring fans. It’s insane how sometimes you are effected by people you have never even met… but that is exactly the kind of guy Tim Russert was. Even with all of his fame, he was just a regular guy.. a “one of us”.

Here’s the original clip of Tom Brokaw breaking the sad news:

Random: Russert’s favorite saying” “Go get ’em”.