Today I was reading this WP article about MSNBC’s left-leaning slant and found myself wondering why dudes were fussing.
MSNBC has exactly two prominent liberal commentators, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. We can pare that down to one because Matthews is usually unwatchable and isn’t really that liberal anyway. (He did vote for Bush in 2000.) So you have a network’s reputation being made off of one smart-assed commentator — full disclosure, I do like Olbermann most of the time — who makes most of his publicity off of YouTube replays. Nor do I see how David Gregory, Tim Russert and Andrea Mitchell count as partisan in any way when compared with the likes of Brit Hume and Shephard Smith.
But, let’s assume MSNBC is slanting to the left. McCain and Clinton spokespeople have to rail against any loud voice that ostensibly opposes them, but I wish those kind of complaints–and the ones against Fox News–were recognized more often for what they are: empty gestures ignoring the underlying reality that these networks exist because there’s a market for the slant they’re selling. Protest the viewing public that keeps your favorite target network going, and then you’re on the right track.
The media is a special business because of the effect it has on society, but it is still a business where resources flow to any open opportunity. In NBC / GE’s case, that was for a mildly liberal network that’s happy to scrap with conservative rivals. There’s thus little point in being mad at them for slanting. I think it’s digusting and hilarious that KFC has found a market for the Famous Bowl, but getting mad at KFC for following the dollars is the wrong way to go. They aren’t a 1950s cigarette company keeping a lid on the fact that fatty food is bad for you–we as a nation are clearly aware of it, but plenty of us still clamor for gravy with cheese.
TV is no different. It’s a market, and getting your news from TV is a bad decision in the first place. (Nearly every time “the media” catches flak for being too dumb, it’s really the televised media, but that’s for another post.) So get pissed all you want at MSNBC, McCain and Clinton staffers, but it’s not going to stop the gravy-and-cheese train.