Frankly, the hand-wringing about NBC's opinion-oriented talk hosts anchoring news events struck me as a bit of a tempest in a teapot when it arose during the 2008 election, but I wish somebody at the channel could make up their mind.

After having Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews anchor its coverage during the primaries, MSNBC backed off under criticism, announcing in September that the network would alter their roles to commentary and let David Gregory anchor on election night. For next week's inaugural, however, the two will be back in an anchoring role, along with equally opinionated new primetime host Rachel Maddow.

Philgriffin2
 Asked about the windshield-wiper act after Thursday's press tour session showcasing Maddow, MSNBC President Phil Griffin (pictured) said he had no problem with his outspoken hosts anchoring in this context and that he'd consider the decision again the next time an election rolled around. "These are our guys. This is our team, and I want to celebrate it," he said, calling Barack Obama's inauguration "a day to take a look at who we are."

Fair enough, though Fox News Channel has pointed out in the past that it keeps resident conservative pit bull Sean Hannity on the sidelines during such news-based events. Speaking of Fox, both Griffin and Maddow dismissed the suggestion that MSNBC has become its left-leaning counterweight, with Griffin stating, "We're less about ideology than Fox is."

Maddow did make one other interesting point, saying in regard to the dueling-pundit template regularly employed on cable that she had no interest in doing a show that was "boxing masquerading as news." Agreed, and while I know Maddow is proud of saying she doesn't own a TV, just wondering: Does she ever watch the "strategists" that over-populate daytime on her own channel?

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more
Comments 2