So what happened to America’s unbiased media networks?
21st Century Wire
Most spectators will agree that, without a doubt, the US political arena has become a predictable dog and pony show, and now the mainstream corporate media is following suit – in the most shameless fashion imaginable…
For years now, MSNBC has tried hard to masquerade quietly as unbiased a “national news network” operating out of New York City, but this year they have decided to fully shed their sheep’s clothing, feeling safe to do so following Obama’s re-election, like a débutante on the eve of her womanhood – coming out openly as the defacto White House TV Network. Have you ever sat and listened Rachel Maddow’s flippant delivery for 30 minutes straight? Seriously, it’s enough to drive any self-respecting libertarian to drink.
In addition to these, MSNBC has also imported the pro-globalist and British media agent Martin Bashir into their prime slot, and like CNN’s Piers Morgan, Bashir recently steered MSNBC’s anti-gun news campaigning so as to fall in line with the UN Treaty on small arms which would effectively disarm the public if it’s allowed to be implemented in the US. As expected, no chance of any debate in the wake of Sandy Hook either.
Chris Matthews’ comments (see addendum below) of sexual adoration towards the President aside, it can be argued that MSNBC is even more biased than its competitor FOX News, as it’s now proven that they did not air one report critical of the President during the 2012 election – which, in a fair world, should be grounds for the network to lose its broadcasting license. American majors are unapologetic when it comes to protecting the power structure and appear to have lost any interest in old traditions like “equal time”.
A decade ago it would have been inconceivable. As if it was odd enough have a knight of the Obama round table, (scamster of note and convicted tax felon to boot) the Reverend Al Sharpton, as a regular fixture using his new pulpit to lobby for Obama on Mt Rushmore… we now have Obama’s two top communications minions in Axelrod and Gibbs now embedded at MSNBC, joining George Stephanopoulos – one of President Clinton’s most trusted advisors, which really begs the question what is the point of of having the network’s independent facade?
The illusion of choice in media
This is a continuing trend for the mainstream media, where a small cartel of corporations are assigned which line they will take. Currently, FOX News will almost exclusively back the Republican Party, MSNBC backs the Democratic Party and CNN will back whoever is in power in the White House, in essence, Ted Turner will play his globalist role by absolutely protecting the government line and direct the conversation accordingly.
It’s interesting to note that MSNBC gave the impression through the Bush years, especially through Kieth Oberman, to fight against Carl Rove’s evil regime, but sadly they had no effect at all on any policies, particuarly on the jouralistic side, as the network capitulated to the White House for the most part and managed to not break any significant stories in 8 years. It was almost as if MSNBC were controlled oppostion. And here they are now, errecting an electric fence around the White House, and protecting the Chairman.
By contrast, CNN crafts its propaganda much more subtly than a network like FOX, by employing agents which polling audiences tend to believe are ‘liberal’ and balanced, like Anderson Cooper. This stagecraft was particularly evident with the networks shameless pro-White House coverage of Sandy Hook, but also when it came to priming the public for agression towards foreign enemies, as they did with their skewed coverage in the early phase of the Syrian conflict, as the network clearly took a side early on to promote the Jihadist and al Qaeda rebels, portarying them as Contra-esque ‘freedom fighters’ against the Assad regime. This was because the US State Department wanted regime change in Syria. It’s that simple.
Both CBS and ABC are not as easy to pin down, but overwhelmingly take the White House’s line on almost every angle. Both these dinosaur networks have a substantial domestic audience through their affiliate network, but do not have the same reach as other networks globally and online. There are many examples of the government, in particular the White House, putting direct pressure on both networks to kill certain stories. One most obvious example of this was a CBS veteran journalist being threatened by Obama’s White House to spike the potentially embarrassing Operation Fast and Furious investigation and that most certainly included threats to the bosses at CBS too.
The Bush Government also employed the same tactics to gain traction for its own unpopular and highly illegal activities, with prme examples being the Iraq War, and other dictatorial campaigns that revolved around the Patriot Acts and illegal domestic surveillance. With both the Bush and Obama White Houses, it’s conclusive that the corporate media have failed the American public in fulfilling its role as watchdog and protector of freedom enjoyed by previous generations.
It’s been a slow process of decay. For years Washington has always worked on the premise of access to the White House, leaks, advanced tips and Presidential interviews – always being granted or drip-fed by the White House to the media in return for favourable coverage on what the government does and says. Any criticism of the White House is almost certain to find a network left off of the Air Force One press corps list and other VIP assignments. Also, the networks themselves can make indirect contributions to US elections through their proxies, like the National Broadcasters Association.
This is America’s so-called “free press” in 2013 – heavily controlled by the power structures, and most likely the reason that the political situation in the US is such a failure today – with record disapproval ratings for government. On a functional level, this is how a banana republic would work, and very similar in principle to a state-controlled communist media, or a fascist government-controlled propaganda operation in Nazi Germany.
MSNBC has recently spent millions of dollars to produce its newest brand-centric collectivist propaganda campaign entitled, “Lean Forward”, which features their talking head collective of Racheal Maddow, Chris Matthews and Martin Bashir, all dressed in hipster and smart casual outfits to make them look like us.
Using powerful collectivist and politically loaded slogans,this new MSNBC campaign is designed specifically to dovetail on with the Obama 2012 campaign entitled “Forward” and Obama’s policy platform, showing that the network is indeed shamefully in lock-step with the Obama White House.
The latest “Lean Forward” ad featuring Racheal Maddow is perhaps the most bombastic yet, in terms of attempting to shove White House ‘big gov’t’ propaganda down the throats of its viewers. You get the feeling that MSNBC is trying too hard, a little bit desperate in this cringe-worthy advert…
Here’s more on how MSNBC’s network has become nothing more than a joke in press terms…
MSNBC boldly moves to plug its one remaining hole
By hiring long-time Obama spokesmen Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod, the cable news network clarifies its function
Last month, MSNBC‘s Al Sharpton conducted a spirited debate about whether Obama belongs on Mount Rushmore or instead deserves a separate monument to his greatness (just weeks before replacing frequent Obama critic Cenk Uygur as MSNBC host, Sharpton publicly vowed never to criticize Barack Obama under any circumstances: a vow he has faithfully maintained). Earlier that day on the same network, a solemn discussion was held, in response to complaints from MSNBC viewers, about whether it is permissible to ever allow Barack Obama’s name to pass through one’s lips without prefacing it with an honorific such as “President” or “the Honorable” or perhaps “His Excellency” (thatreally did happen).
Yesterday, Chris Matthews – who infamously confessed that listening to Obama (sorry: President Obama) gives him a “thrill going up his leg” – hosted another discussion, this one involving former Obama campaign aide and MSNBC contributor Joy Reid, about whether the Honorable President should be mounted on Mount Rushmore (Matthews restrained himself by explaining that “I’m not talking about Mt. Rushmore but perhaps the level right below it”, but then shared this fantasy: “If [Obama] were hearing us talking about him maybe mounting Mount Rushmore, getting up there with the great presidents… what would he be thinking? ‘That’s exactly what I’m doing?'”). A Pew Poll found that in the week leading up to the 2012 election, MSNBC did not air a single story critical of the President or a single positive story about Romney – not a single one – even as Fox aired a few negative ones about Romney and a few positive ones about Obama. Meanwhile, Obama campaign aides who appeared on MSNBC were typically treated with greater deference than that shown to the British Queen when one of her most adoring subjects is in her presence for the first time.
Surveying this assembled data, one does not need to be a veteran cable news executive to see what MSNBC has been so sorely lacking: people who loyally defend President Obama. Thankfully, MSNBC is now boldly fixing that glaring problem; they began two weeks ago with this:
“Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has become a contributor for MSNBC. Rachel Maddow introduced Gibbs as a new member of her network’s stable in the final minutes before President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. . . . Gibbs was White House press secretary from 2009 to early 2011, when he left to become a senior campaign adviser for Obama’s re-election.”
I wonder: does someone who goes from being an Obama White House spokesman and Obama campaign official to being an MSNBC contributor even notice that they changed jobs?
But MSNBC wasn’t content merely to hire Obama’s former Press Secretary; today they did this:
“David Axelrod, the former White House senior advisor and senior strategist for President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, has joined NBC News and MSNBC as a senior political analyst, the networks announced today. . . . Like Gibbs, Axelrod will appear across the networks’ programming.”
Impressively, David Axelrod left the White House and actually managed to find the only place on earth arguably more devoted to Barack Obama. Finally, American citizens will now be able to hear what journalism has for too long so vindictively denied them: a vibrant debate between Gibbs and Axelrod on how great Obama really is.
All the usual and substantial caveats apply when discussing the generalized attributes of MSNBC or comparing it to Fox News (just today, my former Salon colleague Joan Walsh, an MSNBC contributor, wrote about a study that “finds ‘liberals’ [are] more likely to favor targeted killings once they know it’s Obama’s policy”, and on the weekends, Chris Hayes regularly criticizes Obama from the left while, post-election, Rachel Maddow sometimes does the same). Still, there’s still something disturbing, even dangerous, about media outlets, even those overtly ideological ones, that are generally designed for the mission of defending those in power: a critique that Media Matters once compellingly voiced about Fox News, in part by quoting me expressing that same concern about Fox.
MSNBC is far from aberrational. The overriding attribute defining the relationship of the US media to those in power is servitude (recall how even George Bush’s own Press Secretary wrote a book mocking the media for extreme deference to the Bush White House). Politico today has a long article voicing the complaints of the White House press corps about a lack of access to the president. Revealingly, these complaints exploded into public view this weekend when Obama played golf with Tiger Woods and didn’t let the angry journalists even see the match or take pictures of Tiger!
The golf grievances were led by White House Correspondents Association President Ed Henry of Fox, who a couple of years ago demonstrated exactly what kind of “access” he craves when he publicly celebrated in the most giddy way imaginable how he got to play water sports with Rahm Emanuel at Joe Biden’s official Vice President house (yes, that also really happened). In response to the ensuing criticism over how strangely happy he obviously became at being squirted in the face by Obama’s then-Chief of Staff, Henry appeared on NPR where the following irony-free exchange, one of my favorite ever, actually occurred:
“NPR’s BROOKE GLADSTONE: ‘If these events don’t influence coverage, why do you think the White House throws them? Do they just want to shoot you with a super-soaker?’
“ED HENRY: ‘Maybe they wanna actually get to know us as people sometimes.'”
“Maybe they wanna actually get to know us as people sometimes”: that’s why Obama officials throw parties for White House journalists, said Ed Henry. That is easily one the funniest sentences ever. Did I mention that Ed Henry is the head of the White House Correspondents Association?
Notably, these “frustrated” White House journalists now complaining about a lack of “transparency” aren’t objecting to Obama’s concealment of multiple legal documents which purport to authorize radical powers he claims or to his war on whistleblowers. Instead, they’re objecting that the White House doesn’t “cooperate” with them enough (Obama officials release official photos and quotes through social media rather than to reporters) and they don’t get to see the president enough or sit with him for interviews.
That you can cover what political officials do more effectively when you act adversarially and without their “cooperation” doesn’t seem to occur to them. Moreover, getting to sit for personal interviews with the president usually produces anything but adversarial questioning. As even Politico admits: “some reporters inevitably worry access or the chance of a presidential interview will decrease if they get in the face of this White House.” And indeed, see what happened in 2008 when Politico’s own Mike Allen interviewed George Bush with questions so vapid and reverent that it would have shamed his profession if it were capable of that. Or just review the questions asked of Obama the last time he sat for an “interview”, this one with the founder of My.BarackObama.com Chris Hughes, who just purchased the New Republic.
Still, MSNBC is going a few steps further. Most shows there are suffused with former DNC spokespeople, Obama aides and other types whose overarching political mission is a defense of the president. I suppose there’s some commendable candor in hiring Obama’s two most recognizably loyal aides in less than two weeks: any lingering doubt about its primary purpose as a network is dispelled, so that, I suppose, is good on some level (just as Fox’s heavy reliance on long-time GOP operative Karl Rove had the same clarifying effect). As the Atlantic’s Connor Simpson asked today about what he called “the most White House-friendly network”: “How Much Is Obama Controlling the Message on MSNBC?” His answer: the administration knows there is a “fading need for a White House press corps when it has guys like Axe and Gibbs to unofficially lean the right way on a left-leaning network.”
But whatever one wants to call this, “journalism” is the wrong label. Even ideologically-friendly media outlets which claim that mantle should be devoted to accountability and treating those who wield power adversarially, not flattering the preexisting beliefs of their audience and relentlessly glorifying political leaders. Presidents have actual press secretaries and Party spokespeople for that…