MSNBC president downplays leftist slant of network

Rachel Maddow and Phil Griffin

Whatever you do, don’t accuse MSNBC of presenting a leftist ideology. In an interview last week with The Daily Beast, the network’s president, Phil Griffin, said that MSNBC has never had an ideology, preferring instead to call it a “progressive sensibility.”

“I think we’ve never had an ideology. An ideology is a single thought across all programs. We’ve never had that,” Griffin told The Daily Beast. “Obviously I hire people who fit the sensibility.”

“We do stay true to facts. You have to build your argument,” he said. “That’s why I call it a sensibility.”

MSNBC recently came under fire for a tweet which suggested that conservatives would hate a new Cheerios commercial because it featured an interracial family. Griffin was forced to apologize after outcry from Republicans. He also fired the staffer responsible for the tweet. It just so happens, by the way, that more conservatives live in mixed-race households than do liberals.

But back to Griffin’s comments about MSNBC’s ideology. Oh, sorry, “sensibility.”

Keep in mind that MSNBC’s official slogan is “Lean Forward” — an obvious nod to progressivism — and it’s constantly displayed on the network’s programming and commercials. It just so happens that President Barack Obama’s reelection slogan was “Forward.”

Though the network does have one Republican host — Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida — and a handful of conservative and/or Republican contributors, the bulk of the MSNBC’s programming is hosted by leftist pundits.

You only need look at its roster of hosts. Rachel Maddow was a talk radio host before getting her own television show on MSNBC. She has consumed a lot of her time recently to an adorable, one-woman war on Charles and David Koch, libertarian philanthropists who are more known for their political activities.

Lawrence O’Donnell has a history in Democratic politics and describes himself as a “practical European socialist.” He also asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), known for her leftist politics, for her autograph on air during a May 2013 interview.

Ed Schultz once called for “socialism” on the airwaves in the United States, adding later, “[H]ell, if we’re going to be socialist, let’s be socialist all across the board.” Melissa Harris-Perry pretty much slams Republicans whenever she gets a chance, recently becoming the center of controversy when she and her guests made fun of a family portrait of Mitt Romney and his family.

An then there’s Chris Matthews. This guy has said that President Obama’s gives him a thrill up his leg when he hears him speak. He actually said he was “so glad” that Hurricane Sandy hit before the 2012 election because it “brought in possibilities for good politics,” or, in other words, Obama was reelected. The storm killed over 100 people. He later apologized for the comments.

Matthews, who worked for four different congressional Democrats and a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter before enter the media, has also called Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) a “terrorist” because of his opposition to Obamacare.

A Pew Research Center report released in March 2013 found that MSNBC dedicated 85% of its air time to commentary/opinion. That is the time in which commentators and pundits are presenting stories based on their views. The network spent just 15% of air time to actual reporting.

To put that into perspective, CNN used 54% of air time for factual reporting and 46% on commentary/opinion. Though often criticized for its conservative slant, Fox News dedicated 45% of its air time to factual reporting, while 55% was spent on commentary and opinion.

In the 2012 election cycle, MSNBC was rated as the most partisan news network, according to Pew. “[T]he ratio of negative to positive stories on GOP candidate Mitt Romney was 71 to 3,” wrote David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun, noting later than Fox News’ ratio of negative to positive stories about President Obama was 46 to 6.

So despite Griffin’s pretty pitiful narrative, MSNBC has a left-wing, pro-Democratic Party slant. Sure, there may be times in which hosts and commentators disagree with President Obama, but the network’s hosts have an agenda, and they’re not always interested in presenting the facts to viewers. The schtick is “Lean Forward.” MSNBC is presenting leftist commentary for a leftist audience. At least be honest about it.


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