Laugh Track! MSNBC Boss Says We're Not Going to 'Lay Down' for an 'Easy Interview' with Obama

MSNBC folks never stop doing the unintentional comedy routine of saying their network is so much fairer and more balanced than Fox News. In an interview with Marisa Guthrie at The Hollywood Reporter, MSNBC president Phil Griffin started up the laugh track by proclaiming that while every Republican in trouble apparently goes crying to Fox, "We are not going to lay down, do an easy interview, and President Obama knows it. We're not here to be the voice of the administration." They have too much "integrity."

Come to think of it, it's odd that it's been a long time since Obama granted a TV sitdown to Big Ed or Rachel, and especially his pal Al Sharpton. But I don't think Griffin would dare to claim Brian Williams isn't a star on MSNBC from time to time, and he has absolutely provided easy interviews to Obama (complete with "Have a good evening, sir" bow.) Here's how Griffin handled the Fox-opposite question:

THR: Are you the left-wing version of Fox News?

PHIL GRIFFIN: No. We don't put out talking points all day. The night of the vote on the Bush tax cuts, whether to preserve them or not, every show's coverage was different in primetime. It was fantastic. We did great that night. We hire smart people, and they think for themselves. The fact that President Obama has done Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC -- what is the only major TV outlet that he has not done? He has not done us.

THR: Why not?

GRIFFIN: It should be noted, every Republican, whether they're in trouble or not, does their first interview with Fox. They are invited, and they are treated well. With us, you come at your own risk. We are not going to lay down, do an easy interview, and President Obama knows it. We're not here to be the voice of the administration. There are a lot of things we agree on, but there are no deals. They don't tell us what to say, we don't ask them to come on and then we'll give them a free ride. That isn't how it works. And that gives us a certain amount of integrity, and I think that's what our audience respects about us.

The test of whether a network is in the tank for Obama doesn't require that the White House calls up and tells them what to say. The test is what they say. MSNBC has picked up just about every lame Democratic narrative and ran with it, from "the war on women" to the "electoral genocide" of requiring a voter ID at polling places. But they want to claim they are nonpartisan and independent. That  line only works if you never watch the channel.

Then there's this beauty: oh, we love putting on Republican guests, every conservative is welcome: 

THR: Do you want more Republicans to come on MSNBC?

GRIFFIN: Yes. Look, we like all ideas. I do think this channel is about depth. I love it when Rachel gets a big interview and it's smart, thoughtful and always polite. Morning Joe obviously gets a wide variety of guests. But people have to be prepared to go on our shows. Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, you have to be prepared. But everyone is welcome.

Now this answer is much less shocking:

THR: Is there an on-air personality on another network that you would like to have?

GRIFFIN: Yes. I don't know if I should say this. [Fox News anchor] Shep Smith. I just like his way. I like everything about him.

Based on a recent ratings surge after the Romney secret "47 percent" tape, Griffin thinks MSNBC is on the verge of competing in prime time with Fox:  "I think we're going to come out of the election much closer to Fox. In 2008, prior to the conventions, we were a distant third to Fox and CNN. During the election buildup, between the conventions and the election, we didn't beat CNN until October. And then in 2009, we overtook CNN. So we went from distant third to second, and now we've been a strong second for a number of years. We're nipping on Fox's heels."

Earlier in the Laugh Track Series: After a Few Too Many Bartending Attempts? Rachel Maddow Claims Fox Is All About Electing Republicans, But MSNBC Has No Political Objective! 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis