MSNBC's Flawed Coverage of Libya, Economy

Published at Truthout.

by: Michael Corcoran and Stephen Maher, Truthout

The channel, viewed by far as the most progressive on cable television, keeps its critiques well within the narrow framework of "acceptable" discourse in the corporate media.

When US bombs began to drop on Libya last month, representing the start of the third simultaneous US war (not including covert wars being waged by US Special Forces and the CIA in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and elsewhere), it was not surprising to see the media jump into a pro-war frenzy, as it so often does. One might hope, however, that perhaps MSNBC - on the liberal side of acceptable discourse in US cable media - would at least offer significant skepticism toward another expensive and bloody US war. This is especially true given that 74 percent of the US population opposed US intervention.

A close look, however, reveals the opposite is true. MSNBC, whose hosts align themselves closely with Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, has been perhaps the most hawkish station on cable news. Literally every single one of the channel's nighttime hosts (Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell and Cenk Uygur) has failed to oppose the war (the morning hours are hosted by Joe Scarborough, a reliable conservative). In many instances, they have vigorously supported the war, or at the least, have deflected criticism away from Obama and the Democrats. In fact, MSNBC has arguably defended President Obama's war policies with nearly the same vigor as their Fox News competitors did with President George W. Bush, when he pushed the US into Iraq in 2003. MSNBC's coverage of the intervention in Libya shows one of the great flaws of even the most critical corporate media in the United States. Such limitations do a great disservice to the prospects of a much-needed class-based movement. And given that a recent poll done by Alternet showed how influential MSNBC is - Maddow was overwhelmingly voted as the most influential progressive, and a number of other current or former MSNBC hosts were in the top 20 - it is important that the limits of MSNBC's independence and criticism be well understood.

Read the rest of the essay, here.