MSNBC found a time slot for Brian Williams, the former anchor of NBC Nightly News whose journalistic exaggerations got the media elite star suspended in 2015 .
Brian Williams was replaced by Lester Holt, whose stewardship of the evening news has done quite well, so much so that he’s landed the job as moderator in a couple weeks of the first presidential debate.
Following a period of banishment, Mr. Williams returned to the small screen not too long ago as a late night political jockey on MSNBC, NBC’s triple league team that runs a distant second in cable news show ratings to Fox News. Mr. Williams has eased back into the industry he was such a star in for so many years following the retirement of NBC’s major duomo of the evening news, Tom Brokaw. His new assignment is hosting “11th Hour with Brian Williams,” described by the network as a “fast paced look at the campaign trail” and aptly named since it airs for 30 minutes following The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell at 10 P.M.,
On Tuesday 11th Hour raised Ohio Gov. John Kasich from the ruble of dead Republicans who tried but fell short of Donald Trump in claiming title to the GOP’s presidential nominee. Ohio’s lame duck chief executive has tried twice now to win the hearts and votes of Republican base voters for president, first in 2000 then again this year. His amateur campaign never got off the ground in 2000 before he capsized and endorsed Texas Gov. George W. Bush. This year, after losing 49 GOP contests, Gov. Kasich, who beat Donald Trump in Ohio with less than 50 percent of the vote for his only first-place finish, has refused to endorse Donald Trump let alone say a kind word about the New York billionaire who thrashed him and more than a dozen other Republican wannabes.
The former Lehman Brothers banker who has two more years in office fielded softball questions from Williams with non-answers tinged with religion, that seemed condensed versions of his town hall scripts performed throughout his 49-state loss streak this year.
The day after his appearance, Camp Kasich described the few minutes with Williams to discuss the state of the 2016 race for President as though Mr. Kasich actually discussed the state of the 2016 presidential race. He was their to do one thing, deliver another live ad about how he’s out campaigning for Republican candidates and “his belief that Americans are looking to hear a positive vision for our country.” If the Office of National Chaplin existed, John Kasich would be a contender.
Mr. Kasich actually avoided discussing the state of the race by lathering Williams up his new, short response when asked about Trump: “My actions speak louder than words.” Kasich’s actions to avoid criticizing Mr. Trump are both sophomoric and transparent, even as scores of professional, establishment Republicans, who are cut from the same conservative cloth as John Kasich and who in a normal election he’d campaign for, are rallying behind Trump, his Big Orange Machine and the electoral rebellion it hopes to spawn on Election Day.
It was a little painfully and a little funny as Gov. Kasich showed his hostility to Donald Trump in the few minutes he was on camera. In those few minutes with Kasich sitting next to Williams, Ohio’s 69th governor offered little information and no insight on the election. But he ladled on good helping of religion-tinged value words to fill the segment. Trump and Kasich are cold to each other, with the former calling the governor irrelevant and a non-factor while the latter says the reality TV star needs to change his tone enough that his wife and daughters can approve of him.
To no one’s surprise, Kasich repeated to Mr. Williams that he has no regrets about how he ran his campaign. His best placement was a distant second to Donald Trump in the small libertarian leaning state of New Hampshire. The Catholic boy who wanted to be priest dredged up his Bible-inspired homily of choosing between the dark and the light. It’s been a favorite condensation of past political campaigns the former 18 year congressman now likes to frame as “recognizing problems and coming together as a nation to overcome them.”
He said “people like you to stick to your principles,” clearly a backhand slap at Trump who’s under constant fire for flip-flopping on any issue on any day. Kasich, who knows a thing or two about the dark arts of political skulduggery, said politics isn’t “bean bag,” and said he’s not going to change his position or walk away from them.
After he suspended his race on May 4, Gov. Kasich said he doesn’t spend time attacking Trump because he’d rather helping other Republicans, especially candidates for the House, the Senate and some governorships. Like a horse returning to the barn, Kasich returned to one of his favorite themes: leading “the [Republican] party in a direction that will be unifying.”
When Williams asked about Trump’s destiny in Ohio, Kasich said it all depends on what the urban areas will do for Hillary Clinton. “If you’re not a unifier , you’ll have a hard time in Ohio,” he said, adding, “We’ll see what happens.” He did acknowledge that Ohio is a critical state to win, but he said that other places are in play that weren’t in previous elections. He said he doesn’t study maps, just does his job as governor. Kasich wouldn’t shed a tear if Trump lost Ohio. Neither would the state’s political machinery, much of it run by his loyalists.
John Kasich, a former Fox TV political talk show host hired by now departed Fox News chief Roger Ailes, ended the interview saying that there are two things to recapture: “We need to connect with one another again…slow down…and lead lives bigger than ourselves,” all rhetorical nuggets too familiar to anyone who half-way followed the governor’s time on the campaign trail. People are in a ditch, he said, “and we have to help them get out.”
As to who he’ll vote for for president, the television tease said he’ll let everybody know who he decides to vote for, coughed up his new standard line, “My actions speak louder than words.”
When the segment ended, Brian Williams smiled at Gov. Kasich, congratulating him with his eyes for his guest appearance. No questions. Break to commercial.