Incurious Howie

2 comments May 29th, 2008at 07:42pm Posted by Eli

I meant to touch on this yesterday, but couldn’t find the time.  Howie Kurtz has a piece in which he very sympathetically covers Republican accusations that MSNBC is too liberal (and Clinton campaign accusations that it’s too Pro-bama):

MSNBC, which bills itself as “the place for politics,” is being pummeled by political practitioners.

“It’s an organ of the Democratic National Committee,” says Steve Schmidt, a senior strategist for John McCain’s campaign. “It’s a partisan advocacy organization that exists for the purpose of attacking John McCain.”

Ed Gillespie, President Bush’s counselor, says there is an “increasing blurring” of the line between NBC News and MSNBC’s “blatantly partisan talk show hosts like Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann.”

Terry McAuliffe, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, says Matthews has been “in the tank” for Barack Obama “from Day One” and is practically “the Obama campaign chair.”

Why are operatives from across the political spectrum suddenly beating up on the third-place cable channel? Phil Griffin, the NBC senior vice president who runs MSNBC, dismisses the criticism, calling Schmidt’s broadsides “pretty outrageous accusations.”

“To call us an arm of the DNC is a joke,” he says. “We have people with multiple points of view. Everyone is getting a little thin-skinned. We argue and debate every topic.”

The focus of the attacks is MSNBC’s evening lineup, where the channel has clearly gravitated to the left in recent years and often seems to regard itself as the antithesis of Fox News. Schmidt, for instance, says he regards MSNBC’s daytime reporting as fair, but that it would be “delusional” to view its nighttime operation as anything other than a “partisan entity.”


NBC News President Steve Capus says the distinctions between reporting and opinion are clear. “We happen to have programs that at times are driven by opinion on MSNBC, and we have a worldwide news organization driven by NBC News,” he says. “The only people trying to lump it all together are people who tend to view these things through a political filter or are our competitors.”

But news and opinion often seem to merge on primary nights. MSNBC’s coverage is anchored by Matthews, a onetime Democratic operative, and Olbermann, the “Countdown” host who recently finished one anti-Bush commentary by instructing the president to “shut the hell up.”

Oh, I see.  Because Matthews is “a onetime Democratic operative,” that makes him a liberal?  He does call Republicans out on obvious bullshit, but his embarrassing man-crushes on Dubya and Mitt Romney make the idea that he’s a liberal simply laughable.  And I don’t think he’s Pro-bama so much as just ridiculously misogynistic.  As for Olbermann being a liberal, well… yeah.

But here’s the bit that struck me as intriguing, but apparently not Howie:

NBC executives say the ratings growth at MSNBC — up 61 percent this month in prime time, compared with a year ago — has made it a target.

Huh.  61% seems like a pretty big increase to me.  Funny that Howie chooses not to explore that growth at all.  Could it be that MSNBC is attracting viewers who don’t want all-GOP-talking-points, all the time?  It certainly seems like there should be a market for a news channel like that, especially as those GOP talking points get more shrill and less credible.

Now that would have made an interesting story.

Entry Filed under: Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers


  • 1. Cujo359  |  May 30th, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Sixty percent change in a year? Nope, nothing to see there.

    I love Kurtz’ implication that since every corner of the political spectrum is criticizing them, they must be doing something right. The plain fact is they’re just a little less bad than the other two American “news” channels.

  • 2. Eli  |  May 30th, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Yeah, they have one full-throated, unabashed liberal, one slightly contrarian conservative, and one misogynistic unpredictable crazy man.

    But that’s still better than nothing but hardcore conservatives with maybe one ineffectual token liberal.

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