If you were relying on MSNBC as your sole conduit for news yesterday afternoon, you learned about the economy in the U.K., you definitely understood that President Obama has "no patience" for reports that the Internal Revenue Service targets conservative groups, and you discovered, along with Chris Matthews, that the Hardball host has met his match when it comes to overpowering an opponent with nonstop loud words coming out of one's face.
What you didn't know was that yet another political scandal was breaking all over the internet and slowly unfolding to the audiences of the other two major cable news networks. The scandal, of course, was the news that the Department of Justice had undertaken an unprecedented gathering of Associated Press employee phone records. The news was immediately described by journalists as "chilling" and even as the "first legit" Obama scandal by liberal pundit Markos Moulitas. But it would take over three hours to reach MSNBC viewers after breaking on Twitter.
So what took so long? An MSNBC spokesperson told BuzzFeed, "In cases like this we are more interested in getting the story right rather than just getting on the record with it. As demonstrated tonight, we wait to do thoughtful, thorough reporting — which both Chris Hayes and Rachel [Maddow] did tonight." This is true. Chris Hayes managed to bring up the report during a discussion about the IRS scandal, calling the news "deeply troubling," and Rachel Maddow dedicated almost her entire first block to the story.
But what about the other opinion shows? If Chris Hayes could briefly inject the topic into a preplanned segment, why couldn't Chris Matthews have done the same during the two blocks dedicated to discussing the IRS story? If there was ever a time for Martin Bashir, Chris Matthews, and Al Sharpton to stand up and claim objectivity, this was it, and all three failed miserably.
To get an idea of how excruciating it was to wait for MSNBC to deliberate on the importance of this massive political scandal, I've created the timeline below:
At 4:26 p.m., the Associated Press announces to Twitter that the government seized telephone records for lines assigned to their journalists.
Mentions of "AP" on Twitter immediately skyrocket past "IRS" and "Benghazi."
At 4:58 p.m., CNN's Jake Tapper becomes the first to break the story on cable news.
"A troubling story just in..."