One of the mantras of the #neverTrump resistance movement is “don’t normalize Trump.” In the spirit that turnabout is fair play, may I suggest that we not normalize MSNBC as a legitimate news source and pretend that the anchors and reporters are actually journalists. Not so.
In singling out MSNBC, we need to examine the other three major cable news channels. Any objective or professional analysis would clearly establish that FOX News leans to the right. Like CNN and MSNBC, FOX offers up a series of programs that conflate news and opinion. What can be said of FOX – and proven by empirical analyses – is that the station provides more subject matters than CNN or MSNBC and devotes more time to truly differing opinions – although their anchors will more often than not side with the Republican or conservative. Still, they tend to live up to their claim of being “fair and balanced.”
Although FOX’s more balanced coverage is analytically provable, that does not stop Democrats, left-wingers, CNN and especially MSNBC from attacking FOX as a right-wing extremist station. They hang this label on FOX largely because of conservative personality shows (not news) such as those featuring Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Judge Jeanine.
CNN leans to the left and uses the same format as FOX, but leans a bit further to the left than FOX does to the right – and that can be empirically established. CNN, like FOX, conflates news and commentary and they do offer various viewpoints, but not as balanced as FOX. In setting up their panels of experts, CNN is more likely than FOX to pit a number of liberals/Democrats against one conservative/Republican. Like FOX, CNN has philosophic-based personality shows (also not news) featuring Anderson Cooper, Van Jones and Chris Cuomo. For the most part, however, FOX and CNN balance each other off with their variant underlying philosophies.
Both FOX and CNN have a major interview format, with Chris Wallace doing the honors for FOX and Jake Tapper for CNN. Again, the FOX offering tends to be more balanced, but it is only a matter of degrees – and both are far more balanced than Chuck Todd, who reprises NBC’s Meet the Press on MSNBC as MTP Daily.
In terms of presenting hard news, the best by far is the new kid on the block, One America News (OAN). It is a conservative station with conservative personality shows, such as The Daily Ledge with Graham Ledger and Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler. However, they do not conflate news coverage with opinion and commentary. There are no panels of analysts to spin the news. They have a journalistic firewall between news and editorial. By count, they will cover more stories from around the world than any of their cable or network competitors. I usually start my day with OAN to get the broad view of world happenings and then cruise through the other news providers – including MSNBC — to get the spin on the limited number of stories they cover.
While I have been critical of the gaggle of left-leaning east coast journalists that dominate the news – both electronic and print – I reserve a special place in journalism Hell for MSNBC. Only the most jaded liberal would be blind to MSNBC’s singular and obsessive perspective –and objective. They operate more like a partisan propaganda operation than a legitimate news agency. They come closest to Trump’s definition of purveyors of fake news.
First consider the lineup. While the news of the day starts at 5 a.m., the major sunrise show is Morning Joe, hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. The show started some 10 years ago with the theory that former Florida Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough would be a counterpoint to the very liberal Brzezinski. Whether it was the liberal atmosphere at MSNBC or the romance that developed between Scarborough and Brzezinski, the Joe in Morning Joe morphed into a full-fledged New York liberal.
The Morning Joe panels personify what I alternately refer to as the bobbleheads or parroting pundits. Despite their background or pedigrees, they all offer up the same slanted perspective. Their skill set is finding different words to say the same thing in support of the preconceived narratives.
In a pathetic effort to claim balance, the panels usually feature such false-flag Republicans has-beens as Steve Schmidt, Elise Jordon, former GOP Chairman Michael Steele and anchor Nicole Wallace — each selling out principle for a few more bites at the apple of fame and fortune. While they still claim Republican credentials, they sing from the same anti-Trump, anti-Republican, anti-conservative song sheet. What you will rarely see on MSNBC are honest counterpoints offered by knowledgeable people.
As the day moves on at MSNBC, you get strident left-wingers like Stephanie Rhule and Ari Berman. Picking up the prime-time evening hours are the fungible five – Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Larry O’Donnell the discredited Brian Williams. Hour after hour, it is the same script read by different actors. MSNBC’s major African-American personality is race-baiting demagogue Al Sharpton. Fortunately, they relegated his racist (yes, racist) rants to the low audience Sunday morning hours – though he does pop up far too often as one of those pandering panelists.
Throughout the day, the same corps of “contributors” appear on one show after another – with emphasis on fellow cabal columnists and editors from the New York Times and Washington Post. Even the hosts and anchors will float around as guest panelists on each other’s shows. It is an incestuous orgy of prosecutorial propaganda against all that is Trump, Republican and conservative.
As with any propaganda outfit, MSNBC offers a very low percentage of factual content in their coverage – and even then, the “facts” are one-sided. They mostly dwell on spin and speculation to build specious political narratives. They perform with a concocted air of intellectualism while functioning more like the proverbial snake oil salesmen.
Their obsession with Trump was evident recently when CNN, FOX and AON were all covering the press conference associated with the shooting at the Waffle House in Tennessee. At the same time, MSNBC was having its in-house pet panelists belaboring their biased speculative views of the Michael Cohen issue.
On the day of this writing, the top of the hour top stories of the day for FOX, CNN and OAN were the visit to Washington of French President Macron, the terrorist attack that left 10 dead in Toronto, the hospitalization of former President Bush, the committee vote moving the Pompeo nomination for Secretary of State to the full Senate, the latest developments regarding North Korea and follow up on the Waffle House shooting.
In that same first 45-minutes that I checked in on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, none of the aforementioned news stories received a nanosecond of coverage. Rather they led (and continued, and continued and continued) with the months-long thread-bare speculation of the imminent firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller — and the White House’s umpteenth repudiation of the ingrained narrative. They then revisited the month-old resignation of former National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster in support of the tendentious Trump-is-soft-on-Russia narrative. Following tradition, Mika Brzezinski read, with awe and majesty, a long excerpt from her paramour Joe Scarborough’s latest screed laying out the reasons Trump will not run in 2020 as published in the Washington Post (of course). They then went on to speculate that Trump would not run in 2020 by citing a recent interview with ex-wife Ivana suggesting he does not need the grief of the office. And they speculated about Trump’s culpability in all matters involving Michael Cohen. Despite his successes to date, they universally predict disaster in the talks with Kim Jong un.
The entire MSNBC universe circles around one core concept – get Trump. They want him indicted, convicted, jailed and impeached – and they will damn well do anything to make that happen. If these were Medieval times, they would be calling for him to be hung, drawn and quartered. Their entire news day is consumed by this obsessive goal.
Their strategy is not only to attack Trump, but to slander any and all who do not join their #neverTrump resistance movement. They fault any Republican leader who will not fully join in on their attacks on Trump. The malign anyone who supports anything Trump does by declaring them to be part of an ignorant and dishonorable “base.”
Still, there are those who are addicted to the toxic political bromide being dished out at MSNBC. Many prefer MSNBC because it reinforces their own political prejudices – a desire for affirmation at the expense of information. Those who use MSNBC as their primary or only news source are the fringe left — the counterpart of the right-wing doofuses who rely on the babble of Alex Jones . Others may watch it because of an honest naivete – believing what they see and hear is the full story, is actually news and, worse of all, is even fact-based. In either case, they succumb to a narrow and distorted view of reality. They lose their critical sense of objectivity.
MSNBC has planted its flag on the radical left of the American political spectrum. The desire is not to inform but to indoctrinate. MSNBC is the propaganda voice of the anti-Trump resistance movement. It serves as the relentless and mendacious prosecution in the court-of-public-opinion.
We should never think of the folks at MSNBC as a source of topical information. Their claim to being “news journalists” is a fraud on the phrase. We should never normalize MSNBC.