Back in the good old days — when MSNBC’s liberal bias was merely overt — the network was capable of embarrassment. Now, the network has chosen sides in the presidential election, and it is engaging in political activism.
Apparently at the direction of corporate parent GE, both MSNBC and its broadcast sister NBC have become Obama surrogates, so Republicans must tackle them just as they’ll have to tackle Hillary Clinton, CBS and the New York Times. If they were doing to Obama what they’re doing to McCain and Palin, Jesse Jackson would have organized a boycott of GE.
Maybe the RNC should outsource a GE boycott to Jackson.
Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough reported that on his first night at MSNBC — the night of George Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address — “…I was shocked because there were actually people in the newsroom that were booing the president actually from the beginning to the end.” Scarborough said he talked to then MSNBC executive (now MSNBC president) Phil Griffin about it, and Griffin “turned red very quickly.”
That was when MSNBC management upheld the pretense of journalism. No longer.
During the Republican Convention, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said Sarah Palin was a torpedo aimed at Obama and Biden. But Chris should look at the angle of the deck beneath him, because NBC — much more than Sen. Obama — was hit by Palin, and it’s sinking quickly.
Palin said, “But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion — I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country. Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people.”
At that point, Laura Ingraham reported, a chant went up among some of the delegates: “N-B-C! N-B-C! N-B-C!” (We’ll leave it to historians to determine whether the marvelously mischievous Laura started it.) However it began, the chant should be the cause of intense personal reflection among all NBC’s and MSNBC’s remaining journalists.
And among shareholders of General Electric, which owns them both. Though other factors must be contributing to the decline (such as GE’s continued trading with Iran), GE’s stock falls as its broadcast arms rise on the liberal activism scale. GE lost more than 34% of its shareholder value since September 2007.
The share value reflects the ratings. When John McCain gave his acceptance speech — to a larger television audience than Obama attracted for his Greek temple extravaganza — only about 2.5 million people watched on MSNBC, according to the Drudge Report. Fox drew nearly 400% of MSNBC’s audience, about 9.2 million viewers.
As I wrote in June, there is a war going on inside NBC between the remaining real journalists and the network suits who insist that journalism be abandoned in favor of political activism. Judging from the performances of the MSNBC crew at the Republican convention last week, the war inside NBC has passed a tipping point.
MSNBC’s dolt-laureate Keith Olbermann was in total control of coverage at the Republican convention, directing the cameras and apparently the reporter-commentators. Olberboy is best known for his rants against President Bush. (He once labeled Gen. David Petraeus one of the “worst people in the world.” I am proud to be among that company of his “one of the worst,” having twice achieved that distinction.)
That Olberboy was put in control of NBC at the Republican Convention was a milestone of sorts. One that Fox News could have reached only by putting “Weird Al” Yankovic in charge of its Democratic Convention coverage.
GE is funding this. NBC-Universal CEO Jeffrey Zucker and NBC News President Steve Capus are insisting on it. No one should be angry with a circus clown such as Olbermann. His bosses are the ones who give him the greasepaint, floppy shoes and air time.
When the RNC showed a video evoking the memories of 9-11, Olberboy melodramatically cut off Tom Brokaw and Chuck Todd to say that any television network that showed such a video “…would be rightly eviscerated at all quarters…for exploiting the memories of the dead.” (You can see the RNC video, and Olbermann’s soap-operatic comment on it here.) This was only one of the low points of MSNBC’s coverage.
Another ran all through the convention. Their chief commentator, Chris “Thrill up my leg” Matthews, was positioned so that the craziest protesters — even the “9-11 Truthers” who believe the terrorist attack was an inside job created by the Bush administration — could be seen and heard behind him. Viewers could have seen better — and no less ridiculous — coverage on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show.”
But GE has chosen sides in this election. We’re not talking about media bias: this is political activism, a major media outlet functioning as a pro-Obama 527 Group. Millions of dollars will be spent each night on “news” that’s really political ads. There’s only one answer to it: the Republican National Committee has to take all the Obama media surrogates on — especially NBC and MSNBC — directly and daily.
I was talking to a conservative pal the other day, and we were wondering if the activist media were really as crazy as they seemed to us. The answer was provided from an unexpected source. My lovely wife tunes out politics to the same degree I immerse myself in it. But she was so outraged by the attacks on Palin that even Mrs. Babbin is now an energized voter. The RNC and the McCain-Palin campaign are perfectly positioned to capitalize on this reaction. And they may lose the election if they don’t. The McCain-Palin campaign need to remember that the NBC-MSNBC attacks won’t end until he makes it too costly for them to continue.
I’ve been suggesting for years that the RNC could put out a series of television ads going after the media. Now is the time to start. What if they got a clip of Gov. Palin’s shot at the media and the part of the crowd that chanted, “N-B-C! N-B-C!”? Shift to some mug shots of Zucker, Capus, Olbermann and Matthews and have a voice-over saying, “Change is coming to Washington. It should come to GE, too.” It should, and Republicans can make it happen.