Shape up, MSNBC


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MSNBC and I are old friends. Many Team MSNBCers and I follow each other on the Twitter Machine, and I spend more time watching MSNBC than just about any other channel or cable news outlet on the Tee Vee Machine. I pretty much have to, because getting my televised news [sic] elsewhere is too frustrating. I always had such high hopes for them. But now, some of the weekday daytime shows are becoming so hard to watch that I find myself muting the sound or just turning off my TV.

Not that there isn't a lot to like about MSNBC, but since Comcast took over (coincidence?), much of what I see drives me to stabbing myself in the eye with a sharp remote, banging my head on the nearest wall, or simply screaming at my poor Samsung.

The more trivial issues involve typos. They really need an editor to edit the editors. Whoever writes the MSNBC ticker that crawls across our screens, along with their chyron-master, needs stronger glasses. Or a better education. Anyone else catch all the spelling errors and typos? "Eric Holders"? Really?

And speaking of the news crawl, why oh why did they go back to starting it at "Top Stories" after every interruption, both commercial and within a segment itself? For awhile it picked up where it left off, but no longer. Just as we get to "Politics" or "Health," back it goes to "Top Stories," mid-headline. How many times do we need to see the same five "Top Stories"? And don't get me started on those alarmist headlines that are maddeningly vague, suggesting without any specifics that there is some killer virus or new war that will imminently affect us all. A few more words of explanation would serve everyone well.

But the more serious problems involve reporting. The other morning on one show, an immigration expert was reporting that the number of Central American migrants arriving here had slowed noticeably. Not an hour later, in the next show, Luke Russert came right out and stated that there was no abatement at all in the number being met at the border. They were pouring in at the same rate as ever, he said. But today, again, it was reported that the numbers had dropped.

If MSNBC can't keep their own reporting straight, if the information reaching their viewers is that inconsistent, then their credibility suffers. And if their credibility suffers, then so does that of liberals, because MSNBC has the reputation-- deserved or not-- of being a liberal network.

Which brings me to their programming (I won't get into that whole forcing me to "go to prison" thing). I DVR their prime time shows religiously. But daytime leaves something to be desired (weekend mornings excepted). Luckily, Morning Joe is on too early for us West Coasters, but some of Andrea Mitchell's interviews/guests make me wish that show was on too early for us, too. While Mitchell is a respected and informative news veteran and manages to break news that's worth breaking, her show tends to feature the same old Beltway types with the same old Obama and/or Dem policy critics and the same old faulty speculation that have frequently misled viewers for years.

Not to say Mitchell also hasn't stood up for some progressive causes, but generally, I want to bathe after listening to all too many of her interviews with the same ol' same ol' DC journalists.

And don't even get me started on Ronan Farrow. With all due respect, Mr. F, you may be very smart, and for all I know you may be very nice, but you're d-u-l-l. I couldn't even tell you whether he's on the same page as us lefties, because I can't make it through the first two minutes of his show.

Since I know I'll be hearing from my anti-Tweety pals, allow me a few words about Chris Matthews, and then I'll shut up about the shows, because this post is becoming endless (if you want a snarkier take on MSNBC, please read MSNBC: Preen forward #OhButIKid). I actually admire Matthews, his grasp of history, and all that experience and historical perspective he brings to the show. But I prefer watching him on "Real Time with Bill Maher" where he's more lay-back, cracks up a lot, engages with humor, enjoys himself, all with his own special Tweety stamp. Yes, I realize he's a only a guest and it's a comedy show. On his daily show, I enjoy his "Let Me Finish" rants, where his more liberal side most often makes an appearance. He can be kind of a hoot. But he can also drive a lot of us a little crazy. 'Nuff said.

My point, if there is one, is: If MSNBC would truly commit to being a truly liberal cable news channel, then it would not only be the only one around, it would also be more consistent and less infuriating to an audience who expects it to be destination viewing for progressives . Lean forward, MSNBC, not backward. And wake up your editors.

Note: Edited.

  • Good rant!

  • Perfect!

  • +1

  • Joe m'dear, I have already donated, fully support, publicly promote, and watch FreeSpeechTV. The only reason I didn't bring it up is that some people can't pay extra for the best shows on TV, so I limited my discussion to basic cable news, specifically MSNBC.

  • Chernynkaya

    Oh thank you, Laffy!
    I haven't watched more than 15 minutes-total-in several months. I get either too angry or too bored. And I'm talking about Prime Time, since I don't watch at all in the mornings.

    I can't stand Ed Schultz ever since he told his viewers not to vote over something the Dems did that pissed him off. Also, I don't trust him. He is a reformed Repub but he hasn't reformed the personality disorder that made him a Repub to begin with.

    I love the Reverend Al--in theory. But his shouting exhortations and delivery is unwatchable for me. I mostly agree with you about Tweety, but talk about "same ol, same ol." ALWAYS the same, tired, predictable beltway insiders.

    Then we get the trifecta--arguably the best MSNBC offers: Hayes, Maddow, Lawrence. Now, I appreciate that many on the Left are more progressive than me. I loathe Greenwald and Snowden but at least I understand why progressives feel their work is important. That said, I get very annoyed by other issues from the purists. That's why I get annoyed at Hayes more and more often. He also bends WAY over backwards to be gentle to the rare RW guest he hosts. UGH!

    Finally, Lawrence. He reports on Bill O'Reilly, Limbaugh and Ann Coulter every night. It's lazy. And if I wanted to hear what they have to say, I'd watch Faux Noise.

    The sad fact is, MSNBC, in their 13+ hours on weekdays, is comprised of about 7 hours of "liberal media." Honestly, I get better reporting on line.

    Whew--sorry about that rant! But I feel better.

  • RepublicanSwine

    X2 ..

  • RepublicanSwine

    So right ... I'd pay PPV for that ..

  • joy13

    They need to get rid of David Gregory SOOOO badly!

  • Dave Fouchey

    EVIL GRIN! Now It's Time TO Go To Prison....could be worse I could be forced to go to FOX...

  • joewo

    How about an UNAPOLOGETICALLY Progressive TV station NOW in about 50,000,000 TV households and streaming online for the rest?

    It is there...been there for almost a decade. Why have I seen almost 0 mention or support for it on the big Progressive blogs or by Progressive Tweeters/Facebookers? Support it!!

    Please do yourself a favor and get familiar with FreeSpeechTV. If you have DishNetwork it is channel 9415 or DirecTV channel 348. If you have neither it is streamed at FreeSpeech.ORG. It is on ROKU as well.

    They carry-

    Bill Press
    Stephanie Miller
    Thom Hartmann
    Mike Papantonio
    David Pakman

    They carry many speeches from Progressive thinkers from around the world as well as documentaries and news shows from around the world.

    FreeSpeechTV is truly Progressive TV. MSNBC is Progressive when they want to be and other times not. I have friends who have an NPR bumper sticker and think NPR is Progressive...ugh...

    FreeSpeechTV is completely non profit and viewer supported and unapologetically 24/7 Progressive TV. They TRULY need to be promoted far more throughout the Progressive community than they are...and then they need to be supported by the Progressive community. We have lost about 99% of the Progressive radio stations we used to have simply because WE the Progressive community did not support them. FreeSpeechTV has several good Progressive radio shows simulcast on TV and much more.

    Truly 24/7 Progressive TV is go support it and tell your friends to do the same.

  • Chauncy Gardner

    I'll Watch Go to Prison Show if it is D'Neish Desousa

  • Ken Mitnick

    I used to watch MSNBC morning to night. The height of it was when Olbermann was on at 8:00 and introduced Rachel Maddow to those of us who never had a chance to listen to Air America. But now? I just cannot watch between 5:00 ET and 8:00. I can't stand Ed, Al and Chris yelling at me for three solid hours. My only appointment hours with MSNBC any more are Maddow and O'Donnell. Daytime? Almost never anymore, especially since they put the cub scout, Ronan Farrow, on the air in the afternoon. What was their point with him, anyway? In what universe does he have an hour-long program on a cable news network? I know that the more things change, the more they stay the same, but... Sorry, Phil. Aside from a few good hours, I'll just get my news online.