Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Liberal is MSNBC?

MSNBC is largely considered "liberal", even "flaming liberal" in the eyes of those who describe themselves as conservative. I've noticed this for a long time and it has even showed up in its sister network's (NBC) approach to the news. However, I didn't think it reached the point that other media that is often described as liberal in their own right, would start to take notice. But MediaBistro.com has noted just such a phenomenon.

"Add the Washington Post and Time Magazine to the list of organizations recently questioning the leftward shift by MSNBC. That list also includes the New York Times, the Associated Press...oh, and the White House."

We all know the White House has been unhappy, since President Bush is the network's primary target each day. But the New York Times? The Washington Post? Time Magazine? Who would have guessed. The article continues:

Time magazine's James Poniewozik takes on Keith Olbermann following the anchor's Special Comment on Friday. "Olbermann is edging ever-closer to self-parody, or, worse, predictability," he writes. "He sounds like just another of the cable gasbags he used to be a corrective to."

Continuing: An MSNBC insider gave TVNewser another take. "MSNBC has doubled down on Keith Olbermann, but they give up a lot in doing that," our insider said. "They didn't set out to be left wing, they didn't want to be left wing. But Keith Olbermann let the freak flag fly and did huge numbers as a result. I believe there's a revolt coming."

Than there is the Washington Post: Howard Kurtz writes about what "top NBC journalists," are saying about the network.

"NBC and its cable outlet have become more integrated since MSNBC moved to the 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in New York last fall, a trend accelerated by the sharing of journalistic talent during the campaign," writes Kurtz. "Some top NBC journalists say privately they are troubled by the overlapping identities."

He writes of their primary night coverage, "anchored by (Chris) Matthews, a one time Democratic operative, and Olbermann, the 'Countdown' host who recently finished one anti-Bush commentary by instructing the president to 'shut the hell up.'"

Kurtz quotes people from Ed Gillespie of the GOP to Democrat Terry McAuliffe who charge MSNBC with pro-Obama bias. NBC SVP Phil Griffin disagrees. "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."

This writer contends that those arguments are being done by journalists who are defending positions against the Matthews and Olbermanns out there with views that they don't actually maintain. That is a tough task to say the least. MSNBC is quickly becoming one of the most liberal networks on television and it is over flowing into the editorial views of NBC. That is costing that network's anchor (Brian Williams) in ratings. I agree with Time Magazine, if Olbermann keeps this up, we will be turning to the Daily Show for serious content.

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Kevin Price is Host of the Houston Business Show (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at HoustonBusinessShow.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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