MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show set up its cameras and its squadron of hosts at Ford Motor's Flat Rock assembly plant Thursday, and since 6 a.m. has been sending out a basically positive message about Detroit, set to a Motown beat.
The message: Sure, "Detroit" -- both the place and the industry -- is troubled, but it's fighting hard and coming back, and it's an interesting place with an fascinating history, and it holds a central place in American history and culture.
Along with chief hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Mika Brzezinski, the lineup includes Mike Barnicle, a Morning Joe regular, Steve Rattner, the former Obama administration auto czar, Michael Steele, former Republican Party chairman and MSNBC contributor and Brian Shactman, host of MSNBC's "Way Too Early."
"How exciting! We're actually importing jobs from Mexico," Scarborough said while interviewing Ford executive Mark Fields, as Ford Fusions rolled off a spotless assembly line in the background.
The show has been a remarkable wet-kiss advertisement for Ford and the Ford-owned Lions. Among other hugs, "Joe" did a taped segment on how Ford uses 3-D printers in its manufacturing process.
"That's fascinating," Barnicle told a smiling Fields when the segment concluded.
Rattner, who is a savvy Wall Street operator, has doused the happy talk on several occasions with tough questions and observations about how some auto workers are making reduced wages these days. He also asked mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon if Detroit really has the ability to make a comeback after it emerges from bankruptcy. Rattner said looking at the numbers raises questions about Detroit's long-term survival.
Rattner has been an outspoken advocate for federal and state help for Detroit, and he asked Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr if he thinks Detroit needs federal and state aid to help it move on from its $18 billion hole.
"We'll take whatever help we can get," Orr, speaking from a resplendent Campus Martius, told him, adding that he has to design a recovery plan that doesn't count on outside help. "We created this problem and we've got to work our way out of it."
After the Orr interview, Rattner said: "I'm not sure the resources are there. The hole is very deep and I have doubts they can dig out on their own."
The show also spent considerable time discussing the walkouts of fast-food workers in Detroit and across the country in an effort to double their wages.
In the 6 a.m. hour, "Joe" introduced viewers to Detroit in taped segments that were well done and filled with excellent historical footage, music and interviews.
The Rev. Charles Adams, of Hartford Memorial Church, talked of how he felt gritty after working in an auto plant, but how he felt good about the paycheck. Discussing racial problems in the city after World War II, Adams said, "It wasn't Mississippi."
"Joe" also broadcast a special taped min-documentary on the history of the Packard automobile, which spent more time on the fabled car than the dilapidated plant on Detroit's East Side. It showed local businessman Dick Kughn, who keeps cherry Packards in his four garages.