'MSNBC's Disgrace:' Liberal Columnist Blasts Network's Lack of Pro-Gaza News Coverage

It's always interesting when two liberals disagree on something because each of them believes he or she is 100 percent correct on whatever topic they're debating.

The latest edition of “When Liberals Clash” came on Tuesday, when Greg Mitchell, a columnist for The Nation magazine, hammered the MSNBC cable channel's prime-time hosts for not uttering “a single word critical of Israel in its current conflict with Gaza.”

Mitchell, who predicted on Monday that none of the five hosts -- Chris Matthews, Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow or Alex Wagner, who was sitting in for Lawrence O'Donnell -- or their guests would side with the residents of the Gaza Strip during that evening's line-up.

This came on a day, he noted, when Israel continued firing missiles, rockets and drones into the area, and “the death toll climbed to over 110 in Gaza, most of them women and children.”

Apparently, Mitchell missed the report in which Hamas Fathi Hamad boasted about using the elderly and children as human shields in order to escalate the number of civilians killed in Israeli attacks.

After acknowledging that reporters “have a right to say whatever they want or remain silent,” Mitchell stated:

[T]he full measure of MSNBC’s disgrace can be felt in this stat: In the five hours of programming (or seven, if you count the reruns), a little less than 15 minutes was devoted to the air war in Gaza and Israel.

“Five programs and exactly two brief segments on this crisis,” the columnist noted, “even as a building in Gaza housing MSNBC’s fellow journalists is struck twice with Israeli’s missiles, and as President Obama suddenly dispatches Secretary of State Clinton to the region.”

Mitchell then described the information the network's viewers received during its prime-time schedule.

On Hardball, host Chris Matthews briefly hailed Susan Rice for preventing any move toward Palestinian statehood in the United Nations. The host also defended Israel's actions as a valuable step in preparation for a possible conflict with Iran.

“Surprisingly, the often sharp chief NBC correspondent Richard Engel joined him in this,” Mitchell stated, “noting the current conflict offered Israel a chance to test its Iron Dome missile defense system, destroy longer-range rockets that might have been launched from Gaza in support of Iran, and judge responses from Egypt and Hezbollah and the United States, and more.”

The liberal columnist then charged that Engel whitewashed civilian casualties of more than 100 deaths and about 1,000 injuries “by swallowing whole Israeli claims that they phone the neighbors of houses or buildings about to get bombed to warn them to scramble.”

Then Matthews ended the segment by “cheerleading” Israel’s bombing actions, stating:“It makes sense to me, good for Israel, it has to do this.”

“After utter silence on the conflict from Al Sharpton and Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow surely would have something to say?” Mitchell asked. “Well, yes, to a point.”

The columnist said Maddow devoted about five minutes to the Middle East at the top of the show, though that “was mainly as a lead-in to the main focus of the segment -- how the GOP is adrift on foreign policy.”

“Her main take on Israel-Gaza was simply: Most of the world does not want to see Israel invade Gaza by land,” Mitchell noted. “And that no-brainer was just about it.”

Nothing else on the conduct of the air war or proportional response or media buildings getting hit or…anything. And nothing about the back story, such as the long-running embargo that has left the Gazan population, and especially children, malnourished and in need of vast medical help (even before the current bomb raids).

“Then, on to Alex Wagner and…more nothing,” Mitchell added. “Although we did get a snappy preview of the pressing matter of the 2016 race for the GOP nomination for president.”

However, the columnist added, “on CNN, we at least had Anderson Cooper reporting from Gaza. Piers Morgan led off his interview show with Shimon Peres but later had a balanced panel -- that balance needed because one of the three guests, the ever-repugnant Alan Dershowitz, would claim that Palestinians actually wanted their kids killed to gain media attention, calling it the well-known 'baby strategy.'”

As NewsBusters previously reported, Cooper has learned first hand the danger of reporting from the battle zone when he was rocked by a nearby explosion during a live broadcast from Gaza.

Mitchell's column caught the eye of Jeff Poor at the Daily Caller website, who suggested that when the “wildly liberal” news channel loses the “wildly liberal” magazine, “the cable network is probably doing something wrong.”

Poor also noted that MSNBC’s competitors -- CNN and Fox News -- have made the conflict the central focus of virtually every broadcast.

If watching a cable news network's prime-time line-up is as frustrating as what Mitchell apparently endured, I'd like to suggest that he spend some time watching Fox News, where they at least try to be “fair and balanced.”

Randy Hall
Randy Hall