Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
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).
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:
Nope, they’re not the same. Not at all.