Lately it seems as if it must be written into MSNBC anchors’ contracts that if he or she writes a book, no matter how related to current news, the anchor will get endless opportunities to promote it on the cable channel’s air.
The most blatant example is “Hardball”’s Chris Matthews, who recently came out with Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked — about how the friendship between then-House Speaker Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan supposedly produced productive, bipartisan governing during the Reagan years.
Since Matthews’ book was published in October (in fact, even in the weeks leading up to its publication) whenever there has been a story about Washington gridlock — which is just about always — MSNBC has used it as a pretext to feature Matthews on its various shows talking about how things were different in the good old O’Neill-Reagan days, when Matthews was O’Neill’s chief of staff
Often, the connection between the day’s news and the book — which I liked, but which the New York Times Sunday book review called “a nice idea for a book it only it were true” — is tenuous at best. So much so that it seems like there must be a quota of Matthews appearances that the channel is stretching to hit.
Worse, Matthews uses his own show to promote the book at every turn, sometimes simply urging people as he sign off of “Hardball” to be sure to buy it for Christmas. And, for good measure he often throws in a pitch for another book he wrote two years ago, a biography of John F. Kennedy.