Monday, November 16, 2009

Is MSNBC the Faux Noise of the Left?

The right wing, especially the GOP Reichsministry of Propaganda, aka Faux Noise, claims that MSNBC, not them are the politically motivated TV Station.  The New York Times published an interesting article this morning on MSNBC shows that take a progressive stance.
rachel-maddow If President Obama happened to glance at “The Rachel Maddow Show” last Monday, he might have winced.
Ms. Maddow pretended to celebrate the passage of a health care overhaul bill in the House, calling it “potentially a huge generational win for the Democratic Party” — but then halted the triumphant music and called it an “electoral defeat.”
The Stupak amendment, she said, was “the biggest restriction on abortion rights in a generation.” Then she wondered aloud about the consequences for Democrats “if they don’t get women or anybody who’s pro-choice to ever vote for them again.” She returned to the subject the next four evenings in a row.
This is how it looks to have a television network pressuring President Obama from the left.
While much attention has been paid to the feud between the Fox News Channel and the White House, the Obama administration is now facing criticism of a different sort from Ms. Maddow, Keith Olbermann and other progressive hosts on MSNBC, who are using their nightly news-and-views-casts to measure what she calls “the distance between Obama’s rhetoric and his actions.”
While they may agree with much of what Mr. Obama says, they have pressed him to keep his campaign promises about health care, civil liberties and other issues.
“I don’t think our audience is looking for unequivocal ‘rah-rah,’ ” said Ms. Maddow, who calls herself a liberal but not a Democrat.
The spectacle of Democrats sniping at one another is not new, but having a TV home for it is. MSNBC — sometimes critically called the “home team” for supporters of Mr. Obama — has even hit upon the theme with a promotional tagline, “pushing back on the president,” in commercials for “Hardball,” Chris Matthews’s political hour.
“Our job is not to echo the president’s talking points,” said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC. “Our job is to hold whoever’s in power’s feet to the fire.”
But is it good business? MSNBC is projected to take in $365 million in revenue this year, roughly the same amount as last year, when the presidential election bolstered its bottom line. Three years ago, before making a left turn, it had revenue of about $270 million a year. MSNBC’s parent company, NBC Universal, is on the verge of being spun out of General Electric in a deal that would make Comcast its controlling entity.
Gary Carr, the executive director of national broadcast for the media buying agency TargetCast, said the opinions matter less than the ratings they earn. With cable’s prime-time opinion shows, “you’re reaching a lot of people,” he said.
keith_olbermann It is certainly reaching the White House. Anita Dunn, the departing White House communications director, calls Mr. Olbermann and Ms. Maddow “progressive but not partisan,” and in doing so, distinguishes them from Fox News, which she considers a political opponent. The MSNBC hosts, she said in an e-mail message last month, “often take issues with the administration’s positions or tactics and are never shy about letting their viewers know when they disagree.”
Ms. Maddow said that apart from an off-the-record meeting between Mr. Obama and commentators that she attended last month, she has heard little from the White House.
Mr. Griffin said, “We heard a whole lot more from the Bush White House.”
MSNBC’s liberal points of view have made the channel an occasional thorn in the side of G.E., but the channel has also fostered a diversity of opinions that people like Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Campaign Change Committee, say were lacking in the past.
“There’s been a huge market void for a long time,” Mr. Green said. Speaking of the MSNBC hosts, he said, “They are creating an environment where progressive thinkers and activists can thrive.”
Ms. Maddow, not surprisingly, agrees. “What looks like the middle of the country ought to look like the middle on TV,” she said in an interview this month.
She paused and added, “Maybe that would have helped us make better policy decisions in the country in the past.”
Sitting down to a midnight dinner in the East Village after her program on a recent Thursday, Ms. Maddow had shed her suit for a T-shirt. Four minutes in, a fan asked for an autograph. “You’re doing great work,” he said while she signed her name.
MSNBC’s political tilt — and Ms. Maddow’s ascension to one of the most influential positions in progressive America — are still starkly new phenomena. A Rhodes scholar with liberal radio roots, Ms. Maddow started to host MSNBC’s 9 p.m. hour on the eve of last year’s presidential election, at a time when MSNBC was wrestling with its political identity. New viewers materialized overnight, peaking at nearly two million a night in October 2008. Without an election to drive viewership, her program averaged 880,000 viewers last month.
As her objections to the Stupak amendment (so named for Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan) indicate, much of her work these days involves the Democratic health care overhaul. Ms. Maddow, Mr. Olbermann and Ed Schultz, the channel’s 6 p.m. host, formerly of Air America, have all exhorted Democrats to keep the public option.
ED-SCHULTZ Mr. Schultz started a broadcast last month by asking, “Where is the president? I think it’s time to be clear — crystal clear. What does Barack Obama want when it comes to health care in this country? What does he want in the bill?”
Topics often tackled on Ms. Maddow’s program include the relationship between the United States military and politics (something she is writing a book about) and the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays in the military.
Representatives for two gay members of the military, Dan Choi and Victor Fehrenbach, approached Ms. Maddow’s producers about coming out on her show, in March and May respectively. Introducing Mr. Fehrenbach, Ms. Maddow intoned that he was about to be fired “in the shadow of these political promises left unfulfilled.”
Asked why she thought the two men had contacted her producers, Ms. Maddow said, “Maybe it’s because I’m gay; maybe it’s because we’ve covered this issue before on our air.”
Other MSNBC hosts have also objected to some of the president’s policy decisions. In April, Mr. Olbermann, the channel’s best-known voice, urged Mr. Obama to hold members of the Bush administration accountable for what he called the “torture of prisoners.”
“Prosecute, Mr. President,” he said. “Even if you get not one conviction, you will still have accomplished good for generations unborn.”
Ms. Maddow, however, contrasts her channel’s advocacy with the activism conducted, she says, by others on cable news. “We’re articulating liberal viewpoints,” she said at dinner, “but we’re not saying ‘Call your congressman, show up at this rally!’ ”... [emphasis added]
Inserted from <NY Times>
Almost every morning I listen to Joe Scarborough interviewing Pat Buchannan on MSNBC.  Chris Matthews, host of Hardball, is more of a neoliberal than a leftist.  Daytime has hard news without a political slant.  So MSNBC has commentators from across the political spectrum, unlike Faux Noise that presents only one point of view, that of the extreme rabid right.
What has the GOP’s panties in a bunch is that before Olbermann, the right had an MSM exclusive.  Even taking Maddow, Olbermann and Schultz into account, the MSM is still skewed to the right.  Watching CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC, I saw far more talking heads supporting  Stupak-Pitts and opposing a court trial for KSM than I did taking the opposite view.  So to answer my own question, MSNBC is not the Faux Noise of the left, because they are more fair and balanced than Faux ever dreamed of being.  I’m thankful that in the ocean of right wing media, we have Maddow, Obama and Schultz, a breath of fresh air at last.


the walking man said...

Without entering into the debate over their politics, either the right, left or center. I do believe that all of them should remove the word "news" from these shows that are blatantly opinion centric.

Journalism, true journalism should have maintained the ethic of giving unadulterated facts and not spin and viewpoint and making news by it's very being in existence.

I say again news and information has come to a point where no matter which hand wields it, it is simply a whip to be used to turn the herd.

If I need validation for my viewpoint I will look for it in the action of the people around me and not a corporate spun editorial presented as news.

While these way overpaid boobs on both sides can be entertaining, most reality shows are in a prurient way, they do more to divide us and turn us against us when we need to focus on the true causes of our collective misery. The corporations and governments that are profiting by keeping the herd in stampede mode.

As we say in Detroit "fuck 'em all." I can think for myself.

TomCat said...

Mark, the way I see it, these shows do far more that whip the herd. They have superior resources to reaserch the issues and provide factual support for their conclusions. Before this three were abailable, all we had was talking heads echoing government talking points.

Marva said...

"News" I get from many sources. To soothe my soul, I watch Keith, Big Ed, and Rachel. It's so wearying to get slanted news, which claims to be neutral (e.g., faux noise), then trots out the right-wing talking points.

Keith, Big Ed, Rachel are commentators have do not claim to be anything else. That they'll skewer the left side just as quickly as the right, tends to get my attention. The truth is out there, as they say.

It just isn't on Fox.

Stimpson said...

Allow me to add my perspective as a journalist.

It is my firm belief that there is no such thing as objectivity. Once you enter a room and begin to observe the actors in a story, you form judgments. Objectivity is lost at that point.

But a reporter should strive for fairness and balance. In part, that means present more than one side. I won't say "both sides" because it's ridiculous to think there are only the cliched two sides to every story. There are typically more than two.

Maddow and Olbermann don't pretend to be reporters. They're journalists of a different kind. They're commentators on the news. What keeps them in the realm of journalism is that they do relate and comment on facts about current events. If their work weren't fact-based, they would cease to be journalists.

There are several things that make the MSNBC talking heads different from the Fux crew, but the key one is touched on at the end of this post's excerpt. Fux became part of the story with this year's Tea Party and 9-12 rallies. Fux promoted the rallies, acted as if there's no doubt the rallies' causes were righteous, and even (in at least one recorded instance) orchestrated the crowd for its telecasts. That's when Fux made it very clear it's not really in the business of journalism.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Schultz, Maddow and Olbermann don't claim to objective mainstream journalists- they do slant to the left, unabashedly...and God bless them for it.

They are commentators...not reporters.

At least at MSNBC there isn't the phoney "we report, and you decide" and "fair and balanced" horse crap that's being shoveled out on a daily basis at FOX.

Look up "hypocrisy" in Roget's Thesaurus and you'll see the FOX NEWS logo.

No...I'm serious! Take a look....Ha!


the walking man said...

Tom...Cronkite, Murrow, McNeil, Huntley, Brinkley none of these JOURNALISTS made themselves the news. Even Hunter Thompson was a more honest reporter and commentator than ANY of this current crop of them who as much as comment on the news, insert themselves into the controversy for the sake of the bottom line.

You know pretty much my politic and on most things we pretty much agree but when it comes to journalism what it has evolved to is a pimp show.

Local broadcasts spend as much or more time pimping their upcoming entertainment line up as they do giving a few sentences of the days happenings.

While I find the cable shows entertaining they also are pimping for ratings before the truth. They spin and twist the facts (both sides) rather than do a straight report of just the information.

That MSNBC is less odious than Fox is irrelevant. They both have the same objective of above all else bolster the bottom line.

I think I also put this under the guise of corporacracy, which is a business. Once the lines between entertainment and news got blurred there was no going back.

If Hannity tries to turn the the herd right, Maddow tries to turn it left.

That one presents the spin better than the other really makes no difference. Because it depends on where you seek validation for your views that you find one better than the other.

That I like MSNBC better is not relevant. Their commentators are more in line with my own ideology is not relevant. there are plenty of folks who identify with Becks antics as well.

I grew up with a house that had four newspapers (3 dailies and 1 weekly) and mandatory watching of the nightly news when it was presented by professionals so I know the difference between then and now and now falls far short of the true ethos of journalistic integrity.

I do not blame the *ahem* reporters, but rather their masters and editors. *shrug* All i am saying trust no bit of information from anywhere until it can be verified from two or three disparate sources and even then one has to filter it for themselves and weigh it against previously acquired knowledge.

But then it really doesn't matter I am not a journalist I am a poet and I only write opinion using that form of reportage.

the walking man said...

In case you missed it here was my spin on them all.

Distributorcap said...


as you know
i know too much to comment
but let me say this

the media IS the problem

big time

TomCat said...

Marva, you make an excellent point. There is a place for both hard news and commentary, as long as the the facts are reported accurately and without distortion.

Stimson, you have it pegged and I agree.

Hugh, that's a blast!! :-)

Mark, I understand where you're coming from, but consider Stimson's view that nobody is completely objective. I remember a quite from LBJ, shortly after the Tet offensive: "If we've lost Cronkite, we've lost the war. I'll check that out as soon as this reply is done.

DC, I believe you.