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MSNBC: The Place For Politics (And Taped Programming)

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I'ts 8:00 pm on the day of primaries in Nebraska, Washington State, Louisiana and Kansas, and MSNBC just started its live coverage. During the day, while CNN was covering the ongoing voting via "Ballot Bowl" and Fox News was doing the same with "You Decide 2008," MSNBC was running taped programming like "Sex Slaves in America" and "Lockup: Holman" and "Born in the Wrong Body," up until 6pm when Tim Russert's show began, followed by a taped documentary on the career of Hillary Clinton, narrated by Lester Holt. Now the coverage is in full swing, anchored by Norah O'Donnell along with Chuck Todd, Lee Cowan, Alex Witt, Eugene Robinson, Pat Buchanan and Rachel Maddow, but earlier today, when Mike Huckabee took Kansas and when Washington — a state where Obama has led in fundraising and endorsements and which has almost as many delegates as New Jersey — was caucusing (in a voting system that tends to favor Obama) and even the U.S. Virgin Islands was getting in on the act, American Samoa-style, MSNBC was off the case. Why, with so many correspondents in the field and what could be a decisive day for the Democrat side going on, was the decision made to go to tape? I asked MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines, who pointed out that the network would be running three hours of live coverage tonight. "We're always live when there's breaking news to report as there is tonight when there are election results to report," said Gaines. (Though I can't help pointing out that Huckabee's win in Kansas sort of counts as news.) Gaines declined to give any other reason for the decision to go to tape; it should also be noted that MSNBC was live during the day of the South Carolina primary.

What MSNBC missed during the day: Huckabee's Kansas win; live coverage of Huckabee addressing CPAC, including this already-widely-quoted line about why he's still in the race: "I did not major in math. But I did major in miracles. And I still believe in 'em!"; Fox News being sure to mention David Shuster's suspension from MSNBC because of his comment about Chelsea Clinton — but did not, however, mention that David Shuster had formerly been at Fox News.

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