'Never Good To Chase What Viewers Want To Hear': Was This About Fox—Or MSNBC?

March 9th, 2023 3:20 PM

David Ignatius MSNBC Morning Joe 3-9-23To paraphrase Luke 4:23: MSNBC, heal thyself!

On today's Morning Joe, discussing revelations that Fox News people said critical things in private about Donald Trump, but something very different on the air, David Ignatius said:

"You have a sense that Fox is chasing what it imagines its viewers, the public on the right, want to hear. And that's just never a good position."

Yes, Ignatius was talking about Fox News. But upon hearing it, you might have thought Ignatius had Joe Scarborough in mind.

Because if there is one person in cable news who has changed his views, molding them to fit the desires of his liberal audience, corporate suits, and elite social milieu, it is Scarborough.

Over the years, we have witnessed Scarborough transmogrify from hard-core redneck conservative member of the 1994 Republican revolution, into a voice that reliably parrots the liberal talking points of the day.  

And the same can be said of MSNBC at large...and of CNN. Under Trump these networks aggressively channeled the views of the "#Resistance" through all kinds of fictional anti-Trump narratives, from "pee tapes" to Fox News having a Christmas Party at Trump's DC hotel.

So please, David Ignatius, and the rest of the talking heads in the liberal media: spare us your self-righteous hand-wringing over Fox News.  Take a good look in the mirror, and admit that, 24/7, you are "chasing what viewers want to hear." Why else would a newspaper crusade against Trump under the motto "Democracy Dies in Darkness?"

On Morning Joe, David Ignatius accusing Fox News of "chasing what its viewers want to hear," whereas the same thing can be said of MSNBC, and Joe Scarborough in particular, was sponsored in part by DirecTV and Skechers

Here's the transcript.

Morning Joe
6:09 am ET

JOE SCARBOROUGH: My gosh, this is sort of an ideological, a political civil war, Jonathan Lemire. Where you now have Donald Trump attacking Fox News. And Fox News hosts heaping extraordinary contempt, extraordinary contempt against the ex-president.

JONATHAN LEMIRE: Yeah, it's been extraordinary to see. Because we're getting a look now at these text messages that were sent in real time, that were sent during the final days of the Trump administration, during his effort to have the election overturned in the wake, in November and December. And then, of course, around January 6th. 

And I think it is -- it just shows, in full display, the hypocrisy and the lies that Fox News hosts would say one thing on air, say that Donald Trump had a case to make, that the election may have been stolen. And then off air, suggest that, of course, they knew that he was lying. 

And we should keep that in mind as we consider what one Fox News host, in particular, in the evening, is doing to try to downplay what happened on January 6th. And I think, Joe and Mika and Willie, it will be useful to go through some of these text messages. The New York Times has reported, from one host in particular, Mr. Carlson in the evening. He has said these things about Donald Trump, per the lawsuit with Dominion. 

He said that Trump is "good at destroying things.  He's the undisputed world champion of that." He has said that, on Biden's decision, on Trump's decision to skip Biden's inauguration, "It's disgusting. I'm trying to look away." He has bad mouthed Sidney Powell, of course who was Donald Trump's lawyer at the time. He said that he hates Trump passionately: "I hate him passionately." 

And then, he said this, Willie, he called Tucker Carlson, Tucker Carlson called Donald Trump "a demonic force," Joe, "a destroyer. But he's not going to destroy us. I've been thinking about this every day for four years." He said, "we've got two weeks left. We can do this." That was sent on January 6th. 

And again, I think it's so instructive to pull back the curtain here and see what he thought in real time while he said something so very different on air, and continues to push those lies to this very day.

. . . 

DAVID IGNATIUS: What's striking about the Dominion lawsuit is that we're seeing that hypocrisy baked into into, into what is supposedly a news network. And seeing some of this testimony in depositions, you realize, it's sad, how far Fox has strayed from being a reliable source of news. 

People say things in private that are accurate, honest assessments of Trump, and then go on the air and make claims that are divisive to the country. 

You have a sense that, like the Republican politicians you and I were talking about, Fox is chasing what it imagines its viewers, the public on the right, want to hear. And that's just never a good position. And I, I wonder how, how Fox is going to recover from this if Rupert Murdoch and others really want the network to become more stable again after, after the Trump period.