Beltway Confidential

Erik Wemple blasts MSNBC as mostly 'volunteer lefty blather'

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Beltway Confidential,Fox News,MSNBC,CNN,Ashe Schow,Analysis,Television

Erik Wemple, who blogs on media for the Washington Post, analyzed a slow news day at MSNBC to determine just how objective the network is. The answer? Not very, just as most would suspect.

Wemple began by describing each of the programs on MSNBC between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.:

– Chuck Todd’s “The Daily Rundown”: “[A] splurge on politics and political analysis.”

– Chris Jansing’s “Jansing and Company” and Thomas Roberts’ “MSNBC Live”: “Both programs produce their share of quiet and forgettable fare.”

– “Now with Alex Wagner”: “Alex Wagner rounds up panel after panel of commentators out of whom she sometimes pries interesting thoughts, all the while making sure the audience knows exactly what she thinks about each little topic.”

“Andrea Mitchell Reports”: “[It] rests on its namesake’s fame and reportorial bona fides, which are substantial. Less awesome are her anchoring skills.”

“NewsNation with Tamron Hall”: “It’s fine.”

“The Cycle”: The new conservative isn’t there yet, “which leaves the show’s liberal majority without an unruly threat from the right. Maybe that’s just the way MSNBC wants things,”

Forthcoming Alex Wagner show: “The move should ensure that the network’s programming will march more and more leftward as the day matures.”

Not the best descriptions for a channel crushed in ratings by its conservative competitor, Fox News.

But Wemple wasn't done. He pointed out the Pew Research Center's analysis of Fox, CNN and MSNBC, which showed MSNBC with a significant bias toward opinion over reporting.

A similar, though less-staffed, survey conducted by the Erik Wemple Blog found similar results. Wemple found 210 minutes of commentary to 50 minutes of factual reporting and offered the following reasons for why that is:

1) Volunteer lefty blather is cheap;

2) Volunteer lefty blather appeals to the base;

3) Volunteer lefty blather is cheap and appeals to the base;

4) Serious reporters don’t engage in cheap and indulgent lefty blather;

5) Serious reporters deliver too little differentiation with arch-competitor CNN.

Wemple also knocked MSNBC for puff pieces for Democrats, like Alex Wagner's “interview” with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Wagner asked Pelosi such hard-hitting questions as, “Do you consider yourself a feminist?” which Wemple said “should count as a campaign contribution to Pelosi.”

“Such a question, after all, packs two great PR opportunities for Pelosi,” Wemple said. “First, she gets to accept a great premise -- that the Republicans are on an anti-woman crusade. Second, she gets to do something that'd never be allowed in a court of law, or even in a more rigorous journalistic environment, which is to attach her own speculation to the motives of an entire group of people.”

Wemple went on to condemn MSNBC for selectively interrupting guests. As one can imagine, hosts on MSNBC interrupt right-leaning guests far more than left-leaning guests.

Wemple pointed out how host Jansing failed to interrupt or ask tough questions of Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, but interrupted a Republican strategist 10 seconds into his response about gun control — before he had even gotten through his talking point.

In response to claims that MSNBC is biased, even during the daytime, MSNBC president Phil Griffin said, “We do honest analysis with —yes — a point of view, but it’s honest. And our folks called out Obama when he failed, but they weren’t cheerleading.”

When was that calling out? Maybe during the impossible-to-ignore failure of Obamacare’s rollout, but where was that calling out during the 2012 election?

Lean forward, apparently.

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