A video has gone viral, mostly thanks to conservative websites and blogs, of MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell having an extended meltdown during the taping of his show, full of vulgar, expletive-laden explosions at his staff. Mediaite, the media gossip and news site, first released the video, and stitched together the multiple tantrums to make O’Donnell look especially ridiculous.
The tape resembles some classic moments from “SCTV on the Air,” the satirical syndicated ensemble comedy show ( with John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Ric Moranis, Joe Flaherty and Dave Thomas) that chronicled the mishaps of a struggling, fictional local TV station. It is indeed funny watching a news anchor lose it, and once he blows his gasket, O’Donnell is spectacular
You will not see Ethics Alarms criticizing O’Donnell, however. Nor will I link to the video. (The clip of Steve Martin In “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” erupting at an airport rental car employee is as close as I will get.) I know that I would be humiliated if one of my own bad moments during my work day, or after it, were surreptitiously videotaped and then leaked to the individuals I would least want to see it. I have had episodes, in the sparsely populated ProEthics offices, when stress, frustration, a series of horrible events and my own ineptitude have caused my emotions to boil over, and the resulting displays have not been something I would want shown to my grandchildren. If there is anyone who hasn’t had such episodes, I am awash in admiration.
I came close to having one today, in fact, after a string of annoyances was capped by the receipt of a summons from a deranged former commenter here, who is suing me for defamation because he says I was mean to him (I was; he deserved it) and wants me to pay him $100,000. The suit is groundless and pure harassment, but I have better things to do with my time than deal with such things, and that did it for me.
My tirades are much more creative and active than O’Donnell’s. Also louder. Ask my wife.
There are few talking heads that I admire less than Lawrence O’Donnell. He is nasty, perpetually angry, and so left-biased that his head probably doesn’t turn to the right. I have been in the dark place where he was, however, and will be again. The only difference is that I do not have working with me the kind of unethical, vicious, back-stabbing subordinates who would leak a video just to hurt me and my career.
O’Donnell had no choice but to publicly chastise himself ( The Last Word host wrote in a tweet that “A better anchorman and a better person would’ve had a better reaction to technical difficulties” ), but his apology should have only had to be issued to his staff and the people around him, as my apologies through the years have been to the people I scared the hell out of. We can and should all aspire to never have days, hours and minutes when we lose control, but nobody is so good that it can’t happen, and if there is someone out there saying, “Well, I’VE never had a meltdown!’ my money is on that guy or woman for the next one.
Maybe this experience will cause O’Donnell, now that he has felt the same kind of betrayal and breach of trust that made the President’s infamous pussy-grabbing video such a piñata for critics during the Presidential campaign,to be less eager to pile on the next time this happens to a public figure he doesn’t like, which means the next time it happens to a public figure who wouldn’t love to see every registered Republican eaten by crazed moles.
Nah. Not O’Donnell.
But it should.