Cable News Switcheroo


New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield riffs on my post about Wendy Murphy yesterday and tells this amusing tale from the cable TV trenches:

Way back when MSNBC used to do 6 hours stints with lawyers doing the color commentary on the court case of the day, I was a regular doing the defense side.  Once an hour, we would be expected to sit at a desk and do a five minute stint, me and whoever was doing the "former prosecutor" job that day.  Our five minutes would consist of a two questions, each taking up about 90 second and including some mischaracterization of the nature of the legal issue, and concluding with the words "how do you feel?"  We had ten seconds to respond before the talking head turned elsewhere.

One slow day caught up with us.  The "former prosecutor" and I got bored playing cards, waiting for our next stint, and there was absolutely nothing worthwhile to say on the case du jour.  We had just finished our stint with Ashley Banfield (back when she was blond and didn't wear her "interested" glasses), and some unknown kid in a peculiar Caribbean-green-colored shirt was the next hour's anchor.  We decided to goof with the kid by switching sides.  I would take the prosecutor side and the former prosecutor would pretend to be the defense.

The anchor, Rick Sanchez, was very nice and solicitous, as they sat us at our desk, and we nodded nicely back, knowing that there would be someone else we didn't know there in an hour.  He ran through his question and we responded.  Just backward.  Rick didn't skip a beat, and we filled our five minutes like good little lawyers.  Just backward.  Nobody, not Sanchez, not a producer, nobody, even noticed.  Our sound bites were good.  Our time was filled.  And everybody was happy.  It meant absolutely nothing.

NEXT: Stalking the Green Shoots: A History of the Present

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  1. Cable news has less substance than the Sex in the City franchise… hey ho!

    Also, sorry, but this will be second threadjack of the day. Knowing Reasons hatred of the “poor wittle grad student/hipster” stories that appear regularly in the New York Times, I thouhgt you guys may get a kick out of this article:
    “Patient Money-Filing in the Insurance gap for Adult Children.”…..ref=health

  2. Tomfoolery! By lawyers.

    1. Is it tomfoolery, or merely horse play?

      1. Fisticuffs?

        1. Dare I say: Hijinks?

          1. Shenanigans.

            1. Tomshenanijinks.

              1. Ass grabbing tick turds.

  3. “”Radley says she’s “partially right.” I say she nailed it. Not because I agree that this is how it should be, but because this is the mean lesson one learns from being a media whore. They want three things from their commentator: Look pretty, give provocative sound bites and fill air time. That you could be totally wrong, absurdly so, means nothing to them. They’re just moving onto the next segment once you’re done, after which everything is forgotten anyway.””

    But it’s not forgotten. Cable news shows have become a big agent of influence. While it might be fun and games for the commentators, the viewers take it far more serious.

    I half jokingly say I’m not sure when the republicans were worse, when they were influenced by the pulpit of Falwell/Robertson or Hannity/O’Reilly.

    1. Suppose to say,

      or the pulpit of Hannity/O’Reilly

  4. Sanchez hasn’t improved with age.

    1. He was an even bigger douche as a local anchor in Miami.

  5. Cable news – 24 hours to fill, but never more than 3 minutes on a subject.

    1. Exactly. So they fill the time with entertainment to drive ratings. Entertainment in the from of video op/ed.

      1. form of.


    2. Beck fills up his studio with people for open discussion and debate, puts up chalk boards to analyze ideas, makes multi-episode documentaries, gets emotionally involved with the subject matter and everyone gives him shit for that.

      You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

      I think we should simply come to the conclusion that TV is crass, manipulative, and uninformative no matter how it is done.

  6. Still sounds more informative than Olbermann.

    1. My dog’s anus is more informative than Olbermann.

      1. A man could learn a lot from your dog’s anus – if that man’s name was Keith Olbermann.

  7. I still believe in Ashley Banfield. If she had been the hostess, they wouldn’t have gotten away with that stunt!

    1. She was the cable “it” girl for a few minutes, wasn’t she?
      Is she doing infomercials now?

      1. “Disorder in the Court” (aka yet-another-video-clip-show) and other truTV dreck.

    2. was office-less for ten months … No phone, no computer. For ten months I had to report to work every day and ask where I could sit. If somebody was away I could use their desk. Eventually, after ten months of this, I was given an office that was a tape closet.

      Holy effing shit!!!1!!one!!!

      Dude, she was like the CIA analyst who worked the “Canada desk” in the movie Canadian Bacon.

  8. That’s an awesome story.

  9. Why do people still watch cable news networks?

  10. Sanchez remains an ignorant putz.

  11. I imagine getting over on a journalist with legal stuffs is easier than getting over on an attorney.

  12. I can’t imagine the level of shit news channel anchors have spewing through their IFB or off camera instruction. Not to make an excuse, but you never know what the anchor might be dealing with.

    The talking heads annoy me, but it is a little harder than it looks.

    1. The really hard part is refereeing the two “strategists” as they run through their prepared talking points while maintaining the illusion that they are offering a “fair and balanced” discussion of a crucial issue, and doing so in two minutes so she can break for the commercial in time.

  13. Was the case he commented on anything to do with a defendant killing a pedestrian after getting loaded at a Dolphins game then fleeing the scene? Bet Rick would have remembered him then.

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