No, MSNBC is not the left mirror image of Fox

Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com

msnbc logo

I often encounter people who are so wedded to the “both sides do it” narrative that no matter how bad the Right gets, they will strain to find something, anything, that has the remotest appearance to being equal to it on the Left. One particularly tedious example of this is the belief that MSNBC is the liberal version of Fox News.

Now, let me stipulate to being sympathetic to those of you who think the entire cable news concept is garbage. The 24 hour news cycle leads to a lot of inane bullshit making its way on the air to fill time. So I’m not here to defend the overall quality of MSNBC, which is frankly lacking much of the time. What I am disputing – not that I should even have to since it should be bleedingly obvious to anyone who spends an hour watching each network – is the risible notion that MSNBC and Fox are ideological mirror images. They’re simply not.

Fox News is a major propaganda organ of reactionary conservatism and its political party, the GOP. The entire day’s programming is dominated by conservatives. There are no liberal hosts on the network and while they do keep a few token Democrats around, it is mainly to humiliate them or to set a torch to the latest liberal strawman. MSNBC, on the other hand, starts it’s programming day with Morning Joe, a two-hour show co-hosted by former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough (who has not gone liberal).

Though the mid-morning and afternoon, MSNBC runs newscasts and chat shows where conservative contributors or guests are given ample time to express their views or the latest GOP talking points to rebut whatever ones the Dems are putting out. For such a “liberal” network, I’ve found it quite remarkable how much time MSNBC devotes to trying to save the Republican Party from itself. Countless hours are devoted to hand-wringing over the supposed rift between the “establishment” and Tea Party Republicans.

It isn’t until later in the day that we get to the shows hosted by liberals: Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews (a nominal liberal but one who is all about the “balance” on his show), Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell. This could be where people get the “just like Fox” idea, except that it’s not. The hosts don’t hide their own views and they run segments meant to appeal to liberal interests but, as with the shows earlier in the day, various Republican consultants and pundits are given plenty of time to speak. On Fox’s evening broadcast, people ostensibly from the Left appear often but they are a special breed that seem to capitulate to their onscreen conservative counterparts quite easily and regularly. Think Washington Generals to the Harlem Globetrotters.

Fox doesn’t even have anything resembling MSNBC’s more content-rich weekend morning programs. No network does. You will not see a poverty expert on Meet the Press or Face the Nation but you will see people like that on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show. Yet (still) she and Steve Kornacki, who hosts the two-hour long show prior to hers, give an abundance of time to conservative guests and commentators.

But again, my point is not to sell MSNBC to you. It’s not everyone’s jam and that’s fine. People just have to stop pretending it’s a left counterpoint to Fox when it is clearly not. Two major news stories this past week, ones that Americans without a whit of interest in politics were following closely, illustrate this vividly.

First was the shocking revelation of child sex abuse in the Duggar family. Fox News initially devoted about two minutes (literally) to the disturbing story about the famous fundamentalist reality TV starring family, who were darlings among their viewers. When they finally did cover it, it was evening anchor Megyn Kelly doing a softball interview of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, along with some of the Duggar daughters. It ended up being a cringe-inducing debacle that backfired on the Duggars and their desperate attempt to keep their TLC program but that was surely not the intention of the Fox producers. MSNBC was, admittedly, a tad over-eager and sensationalist in its coverage. But this was something that Chris Hayes and Dan Savage deplored, on Hayes’show on MSNBC.

The second was Caitlyn Jenner unveiling her Vanity Fair cover last Monday. In this case, the difference between MSNBC and Fox was unequivocal. Here’s a typical MSNBC segment about it (they mercifully kept the right wing contrarians out of these discussions).

Caitlyn Jennerlink

Like I said, this type of panel discussion might not be to your liking but you cannot say it was disrespectful to Jenner by any stretch.

Here’s a typical bit of Fox coverage:

fox jenner screenshotlink

Nope, they’re not the same. Not at all.

7 responses to “No, MSNBC is not the left mirror image of Fox

  1. captain*arizona

    Phil donhue was fired for opposing iraq war Was anybody on fox fired for supporting iraq war ??? Steve I am the left msnbc is corporate establishment liberal not left I know the difference you don’t.

  2. I knew that, eventually, the left was going to have to stop it’s non-stop attack of Fox News and defend itself from it’s support of MSNBC. I wondered how they would do it and was actually hoping it would be a spirited and entertaining slieght of hand that would require some thought to counter. Instead – if this is an example of the refutation that MSNBC is the lefts equivilient to Fox News – then I am sorely disappointed. Merely going, “No it’s not! No it’s not! Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! No it’s not!” hardly qualifies as argument.

    When leftists see liberals on Fox News, they label them as weak kneed and serving only as fools for the network pundits, I say the same things about the so called conservatives that one sees on MSNBC. Those MSNBC “conservatives” are there to make the liberals look good and to serve as useful idiots for the MSNBC network pundits. The reasons you don’t see that is because you are a liberal. So of course MSNBC looks good in your eyes.

    Your comparison of how the two networks covered the two stories makes that crystal clear. Each network covered it from their perspective. BOTH told the truth about the stories, but it was told from the points of view of liberals and conservatives. You LIKE the liberal point of view so you decided they told the story correctly and Fox News didn’t. Your criticism of Fox News was based purely on your politics. Your comparison of the two photos didn’t display a cintilla of difference. Both introduce her new name, show her in a new outfit and discuss the story.

    MSNBC IS the left’s version of Fox News. Don’t be embarassed by it…embrace it. That doesn’t mean you have to stop attacking Fox News. After all, all the complaining done about it hasn’t affected it’s popularity, has it?

    • Donna Gratehouse

      Steve, I don’t know how much Fox you watch but if you can sit through an endless barrage of nasty racism, anti- LGBT bigotry, and the grossest, creepiest misogyny imaginable (cf, O’Reilly’s and Hannity’s slobberingly lascivious coverage of Spring Break every year) and not think there is something seriously wrong at that network, of which MSNBC is not even remotely in the same realm, well, that says a lot about you.

      I stand by my analysis.

      • Donna, are you saying that O’Reilly and Hannity are racists, bigots, and homophobes?

      • I never expected nor intended that you would change your analysis or opinion, Donna. I was just discussing my reaction to your comparison…that was all. I understand that you see the world from your perspective; I even respect it. Your perspective is built on a lifetime of experience and observation.

        But that is also why you cannot evaluate Fox News in an unbiased manner. When you watch it, you have an agenda: You are going to find flaws and – may I say – even evil in everything they say and do. You cannot help yourself in doing so. You judge it harshly and – tah dah! – it comes out evil and filled with lies. No surprise there.

        When you evaluate MSNBC, you do so with an open mind and a like perspective. Of course you will find MSNBC more reasonable and fair…they say what you agree with. You make concessions for their more radical behavior.

        We are quite diverse in our opinions on things. Remember what they say, “Diversity is our Strength!”