Even The New Yorker Admits 'Conservatives Are Far Less Visible on MSNBC Than Liberals Are on Fox News'

Even the lefties at The New Yorker magazine know that Fox offers more space to liberals than MSNBC does to conservatives. Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple's headline was "MSNBC: Must-agree TV."

The New Yorker's Kelefa Sanneh (for eight years a music critic at The New York Times) profiled MSNBC and declared point blank that "Conservatives are far less visible on MSNBC than liberals are on Fox News." He absolutely nailed how Phil Griffin's shows prefer Republicans who trash the right-wingers as fanatics: 

Virtually every other show [aside from "Morning Joe"] belongs to hosts who unstintingly support Obama and the Democrats, with only minor points of disagreement. ([Host Chris] Hayes criticizes Obama for his drone killings and surveillance programs, and often conducts friendly interviews with Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who collaborated with Edward Snowden. Melissa Harris-Perry, who appears on weekends at 10 a.m., nearly always defends Obama, and called Glenn Greenwald a “jerk.”) 

Conservatives are far less visible on MSNBC than liberals are on Fox News, and the right-leaning guests who do appear are typically critics of the conservative movement: Steve Schmidt, the Republican strategist, who says the party is too tolerant of “nuts” and “kooks”; Josh Barro, an advocate for Republican reform who describes himself as “neoliberal”; Abby Huntsman, the daughter of failed presidential candidate Jon, who has described the G.O.P. as a party of “non-inclusion.” The over-all impression is that your average Republican or conservative is simply too fanatical to be part of polite discourse.

Wemple added a proviso about how liberals think the “Fox Democrats” are perceived as too tame and cooperative: “Sanneh’s evaluation of right-leaning voices on MSNBC is strong. Yet the flip side of the coin isn’t quite as straightforward as the piece suggests: Most liberals would likely vote for a more forceful, party line-toeing crew of liberals on Fox News.”

Sanneh's piece only has a few paragraphs online for non-subscribers, but there is the early declaration by Griffin that Rachel Maddow is the "quarterback" of MSNBC:

Phil Griffin, the president, calls Maddow “our quarterback,” the person who sets the tone for the network. A few years ago, MSNBC had a different quarterback: Keith Olbermann, a former ESPN anchor who rose to fame during the Bush years, delivering urbane, fuguelike denunciations of a President who was sometimes known, on his show, as “you, sir.” Olbermann and MSNBC agreed to a no-fault divorce in early 2011, and Griffin has spent the past two and a half years reinventing the network in Maddow’s image. At almost any time of the day, you can turn it on and encounter someone whose liberalism is earnest, upbeat, and perhaps a little wonky. 

It might be hard to characterize Martin Bashir or Al Sharpton as "upbeat."  The blog Inside Cable News plucked out some copy about Chris Hayes, and how he's been forced to put more Fox-bashing red meat in his show to hold on to MSNBC die-hards:

Hayes wouldn’t say exactly what the data were telling him, but in recent months he has often adopted a more vehement tone, and this summer he occasionally indulged in one of Olbermann’s favorite pastimes: baiting his higher-rated rival. One night, after playing a clip of Bill O’Reilly holding forth about crime and drugs and out-of-wedlock births in African-American communities, Hayes accused him of delivering a “cheap, crack-like high” to his “old, fearful white audience.” Another time, Hayes referred to House Republicans as “a bunch of really ideologically zealous teen-agers—teen-agers who have just discovered politics, and view politics as a means of self-expression.” Frowning into the camera, he tapped his desk to emphasize each word. “Get. It. Together,” he said, doing a pretty good impression of a traditional cable-news host.

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