As part of the Keith Olbermann legacy (along with some left over anger management handbooks and mirrors), MSNBC has become positioned and recognized as the news channel for Progressives and Democrats. Prior to Olbermann’s success at the station through his openly expressed partisan views, MSNBC leaned rightward (they fired Phil Donahue for opposing the Iraq War), following in the footsteps of CNN at the time, trying to play the role of a conservative-tinged impartial journalistic outlet…often by providing Democratic responses to manufactured Republican propaganda which they echoed using the Fox News trick, “Some Republicans are saying that President Obama wants to eat our children…”. Though this tradition continues on at CNN and MSNBC , MSNBC looked at Olbermann’s explosive ratings and made the business decision to bring on more hosts that would appeal to and attract that same Progressive audience that caused the surge in Olbermann’s ratings so they hired Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Lawrence O’Donnell and others (Chris Matthews was already hosting) to host shows.

So MSNBC is the Progressives’ alternative to Fox News, right?

While Fox News has unbroken, wall to wall broadcasting of right wing propaganda, from its talk shows to its “news” shows, MSNBC spends the morning veering to the right, the afternoon bouncing back and forth from right to center then in the afternoon and evening, it takes a hard left…until Lockup begins of course.

This is not apples and apples between what the Right Wing has in Fox News and what Progressives have to settle for in MSNBC. It is an apple and an orange that has some apple stuffed into it.

Like Fox News and CNN, MSNBC is a corporately owned news network. It’s principal owners are the very conservative Comcast Corporation and the very conservative GE Corporation (which also owns NBC). GE has paid no net federal income taxes since 2008. Comcast is based in Pennsylvania but has dodged paying state income tax through a slippery trick of claiming to be a Delaware company. And it is these two ethical, socially responsible companies that principally own and operate the respected news station known as MSNBC.

Many Progressives watch MSNBC later in the day when their Progressive-hosted shows are on but what is often overlooked is the first half of MSNBC’s  programming day. Here is the daily MSNBC schedule for Monday through Friday (excluding repeats other than Hardball’s primetime repeat):

MSNBC Daily TV Schedule (PST)

2:00am – First Look – Anchor Bianca Solorzano starts off the day’s live news coverage.

2:30am – Way Too Early With Willie Geist – Willie Geist offers his unique take on the day’s news.

3:00am – Morning Joe – Interviews with newsmakers and politicians; host Joe Scarborough.

6:00am – The Daily Rundown – The day’s top political stories.

7:00am – Jansing and Co. – Anchor Chris Jansing discusses the day’s more important issues with informed guests from all over the political spectrum.

8:00am – MSNBC Live – Live news coverage, breaking news and current news events with host Thomas Roberts.

9:00am – NOW With Alex Wagner – Forces driving the day’s stories.

10:00am – Andrea Mitchell Reports – Interviews with political figures with host Andrea Mitchell.

11:00am – News Nation – Tamron Hall provides context and informed perspectives on the stories making headlines, examining the impact of news on our daily lives.

12:00pm Martin Bashir – Journalist Martin Bashir uncovers some of the world’s biggest breaking news stories.

1:00pm The Dylan Ratigan Show – The day’s most important issues and breaking news stories.

2:00pm Hardball With Chris Matthews

3:00pm PoliticsNation – The Rev. Al Sharpton discusses the day’s important political and human interest stories.

4:00pm Hardball With Chris Matthews (repeat from 2:00 pm)

5:00pm The Ed Show

6:00pm The Rachel Maddow Show

7:00pm The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell

8:00 pm – 2:00 am – Repeats

As mentioned, some may underestimate MSNBC’s conservative leanings during the first half of their programming day. Here is a break down of the shows in the first 12 hours of MSNBC’s 24 hour broadcast day, broken down between Conservative-hosted, Progressive-hosted and impartial news:

First Half of MSNBC Broadcast Day: 2:00 am – 2:00 pm

Hours of impartial news: 3.5 Hours
(First Look, Daily Rundown, Jansing and Co., MSNBC Live)

Hours of Conservative Hosted Shows: 5 Hours
(Morning Joe, Andrea Mitchell Reports, Dylan Ratigan)

Hours of Progressive Hosted Shows: 2 Hours (News Nation, Martin Bashir)

Hours of Vapid Panel Shows with Political Hacks: 1 Hour
(NOW with Alex Wagner)

Hours of Shows Proving Their Hosts Are Indeed Deserving of Anonymity: .5 Hours
(Way Too Early With Willie Geist)

So in the first half of MSNBC’s programming day, Conservative talking points, memes and views are more promoted over Progressive ones by more than twice as much, 5 hours of Conservatives at the mike over 2 hours of Progressives.

The second “half” of the day is really only five hours (Hardball and other repeats aside) but is 100% Progressive. The irony or perhaps the futility of all of this is is that the second half of MSNBC’s day is spent refuting much of the right wing propaganda it broadcasts in the first half of its day. It is the news equivalent of the Push-Me Pull-You from Dr. Doolittle:

The grand total of Conservative vs. Progressive hosted hours on MSNBC in a full day may be a bit deceiving because most people don’t watch MSNBC 24 hours a day nor do they typically watch repeats of the shows they’ve already seen. As with other news networks, some viewers may watch only in the morning or evening, based on political sensibilities, work hours, etc. But just to do the math on the entire 24 hours, MSNBC creates 5 original hours of Conservative hosted shows each day and 7 original hours of Progressive hosted shows each day. So that means that of MSNBC’s original programming that is partisan in nature, 42% is Conservative and only 58% is Progressive.

Do those percentages reflect a news channel that is unarguably Progressive or a corporately owned business that is simply trying to cash in on both demographics, Conservatives in the first half of the day and Progressives in the second half of the day? This is different from “balance”, a sensibility that news channels have a unique difficulty in understanding. A news channel presenting ANY propaganda is not presenting balance. Propaganda by nature is intended to unbalance so it only degrades news reporting to accept it and report it as news.

None of this is to say that MSNBC should pass some purity test for having all Progressive hosts and opinions on its network. Fox News’ Right Wing Cone of Ignorance which it lowers onto its viewers has been proven in repeated studies to lower their knowledge about facts and reality. That is not a path to follow. MSNBC would be doing a service to its viewers to have Republicans/Conservatives hosting shows that made honest and sensible arguments for their policies and allowed debate with Progressive co-hosts or guests to occur. One problem is that so many Republican policies exist only to benefit the top 1% of Americans so Republicans see no other way to convince the majority of Americans to support them other than to lie to them about their purpose (“Yeah, making wealthy people wealthier…will make you wealthier! Yeah that’s it!”)

So though it may be a challenge to find Conservative hosts who could be honest about why they believe their policies are better for America, some certainly could be found…though their names might not fit into a hokey show title like “Morning Joe”.

Back to the content of MSNBC’s programming now. How do the percentages described above of Conservative vs. Progressive hosted shows on MSNBC stack up against  Fox News’ programming? How many Progressively hosted hours does Fox News present? Exactly.

So Right Wingers have their network that is 100% Conservative and Progressives have their network that is 42% Conservative. Sounds fair and balanced.

In addition, consider the breakdown of MSNBC’s impartial news hours (double meaning intended), the general structure of which is common within the news network world. The following is derived from an edition of MSNBC’s news program, News Nation on 6/7/2012:

Order and Duration of News and TV Commercial Time in a Typical News Broadcast at MSNBC

News: 12 minutes
Ads: 3 minutes
News – 7 minutes
Ads: 3 minutes
News: 4 minutes
Ads: 3 minutes
News: 12 minutes
Ads: 3 minutes
News: 6 minutes
Ads: 3 minutes
News: 1 minute
Ads: 3 minutes

Of course, there is absolutely nothing improper with networks having advertising, that is their main revenue stream so no argument with the trade off between time spent newscasting vs. advertising.

However, the content of the advertising, if it is of a conservative political nature, does color the time spent watching news shows and even Progressive-hosted shows.

As anyone who watches programming on MSNBC and the other news channels know, the oil industry in particular has dedicated a huge mountain range of money towards propagandizing their business and agenda across the MSM. It takes a lot of money and dishonesty to succeed at making people feel all warm and fuzzy about corporations that are price gouging them every day at the gas pumps, polluting their air, ground and water and cheating their nation by pocketing billions from citizens and using the nation’s infrastructure and services but paying no federal income taxes AND grabbing billions in subsidies of citizens’ tax money for no justifiable reason. So, they spend a tiny fraction of that massive windfall (still a great deal of money) on modern day snake oil salesman patter about how they support schools, the ecology, puppies and rainbows…and they are also offering a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge (if you really want to support teachers and schools, Exxon, keep your paltry donations and start paying billions in taxes each year that will pay their salaries…oh, and you might want to stop supporting the agenda of Scott Walker and other Republicans focused on hugely slashing teaching jobs and public education).

These oil company commercials use state of the art propaganda to convince people that they’re “good guys”. They are all run by and chiefly enrich white men but they use plenty of women, black and Latino people in their ads to pretend otherwise. They use the method of co-opting the opposition, having an “angry American” in their commercials railing about jobs or the environment but before that 30 seconds is over, they are happily nodding after the oil company surrogate assures them they’ll be getting a natural gas powered flying unicorn shortly. Then there’s that cynical approach, “If you’re trapped in the Wall Street based IRA/401k retirement system that Corporate America has pushed you into, you probably own our stock through a mutual fund so you should want us to make as much money as we can  and not want us to stop undermining the nation and its future if it means less money in your pocket! Greed baby, greed!” Add to that, the oil corporations’ outright lies in their ads about the XL Pipeline making America energy independent…when the stated fact by the pipeline owner is that the oil will be shipped out and sold on the world market, none of it expected to stay in the US. And let’s not overlook their lies about the safety of fracking for natural gas while refusing to tell anyone what deadly chemicals are in fracking fluid which remains in the ground and showing no  concern that people affected by their fracking have had their land poisoned and can light their water on fire.

The oil companies are rabid conservatives and their game is to use the media to brainwash Americans into accepting their propaganda so they can further exploit them. And like Fox News and CNN, MSNBC says, “You’re going to pay us all this money to spread dangerous lies to our viewers who watch our channel because they trust us to give them the facts? Works for me!”

One wonders when or if a news channel like MSNBC would ever draw the line on taking money to broadcast propaganda ads. So oil corporation propaganda that contains lies which can be easily documented is just fine with MSNBC, that doesn’t conflict with any sensibilities at this entity which is in the business of presenting news. One would have to wonder if Soylent Green would also have no trouble advertising its new, “Lady Finger Sandwiches” on MSNBC.

In the particular broadcast of News Nation referenced above, there was a 30 second, oil company propaganda ad in each of the first three ad breaks. Now that may not seem like a lot but after the first 12 minute section of news, all other ads aside, this is what viewers watched in the next 20 minutes:

Oil Corp Propaganda: 30 seconds

News: 7 Minutes

Oil Corp Propaganda: 30 seconds

News: 4 minutes

Oil Corp Propaganda: 30 seconds

Looking at the last three segments listed above which would account for a 10 minute section of the hour program, viewers watched 4 minutes of news and 1 minute of oil corporation propaganda. If there was a content label on that 10 minute period that viewers consumed, as there is on food packaging, the label would read “50% Non-political ads, 40% news and 10% oil corporation propaganda”. That’s not quite a healthy diet with such a high percentage of oil company propaganda, well over the recommended daily allowance.

In the entire 20 minutes described in the breakdown above, one third of this MSNBC program that is, viewers digested 11 total minutes of news and 1.5 minutes of oil corporation propaganda. And what is a package deal with accepting such advertising is that this stealthy propaganda intended to manipulate political decisions in America is never identified as such or exposed on MSNBC. Isn’t that something important that Americans should be informed of…there must be a term for that…that’s right, “news”.

Of course, MSNBC doesn’t want to lose that oil corporation ad money by exposing this deceitful political ad campaign targeted at its viewers, they have likely become quite dependent upon these revenues and would fear not being able to replace that revenue…if they had journalistic standards against the broadcasting of propaganda, that is.

Even though it may not be aggressive about it, in this way, MSNBC is promoting conservative and corporate propaganda in high ratios for meaningful periods of its broadcast day…during its news and Progressively-hosted shows too. So even when the percentage of Progressive-hosted shows on MSNBC were calculated above, an asterisk is needed on each that says:

*also contains oil corporation propaganda

So, right after Rachel Maddow or Martin Bashir or Lawrence O’Donnell attack an outrage coming from the Right Wing, they break for commercial and an oil company propaganda ad is served up piping hot to their viewers, passively approved by these same hosts who never comment on its dishonesty.

This is not an indictment of Maddow and others, they do a lot of good in their broadcasts, want to continue their careers and can’t dictate to MSNBC what ads can or can’t be run on their shows. However, it is a de facto corruption of the Progressive message in their shows by MSNBC, even sneaky, to use them to draw in the attention of confidence of Progressives then slip them a spoonful of anti-Progressive propaganda between bites of Progressive shows. In essence, the Progressive-hosted shows on MSNBC do provide Progressive content but are simultaneously delivery devices for oil corporation propaganda.

As has been written about here before, the corporate takeover of the press has corrupted it into serving the corporate agenda, one way or another. Sometimes explicitly, sometimes in a less obvious way.

MSNBC is not unique in this sense, all of our mainstream media is owned by just five corporations, all of which have one legal responsibility, to make money for their shareholders, not serve the public welfare…which used to be the primary purpose of the press.

Seeing MSNBC for what it is doesn’t mean having to demonize it or boycott it, their Progressive hosts do serve the Progressive community and address meaningful issues. There might however be a constructive impact in dialing back viewing the conservative propaganda shows so that falling ratings might encourage them, from a fiscal standpoint, to find a more profitable host that appeals to Progressives. And it wouldn’t hurt to send repeated emails to MSNBC protesting their inescapable promotion of oil industry propaganda.

In fact, it’s just been reported that Dylan Ratigan’s Conservative-in-Independent’s-Clothing show is being cancelled and Ratigan is leaving MSNBC. Ratings are most likely the cause of this so viewers can indeed have an impact on programming by merely turning off the tv when a political huckster like Ratigan is on.

All of this should at least make one more thoughtful about the facade of “Progressive” that MSNBC cloaks itself in. MSNBC is not a Progressive network. Yes, it has shows hosted by Progressives but marbled through those shows and its programming day is the promotion of conservative propaganda.

Some Progressives might be aware of all of this but for others, this may be news to them.

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SallyT
Member

I was reading an article the other day of the 10 companies you won’t see next year and one of them was Current TV. It hasn’t been able to compete and Al Gore doesn’t have the kind of money to keep it going for much longer. Regardless of whether you agree with all the shows that Current has, it was a channel not owned by the Corporate Media. Corporate money has the power to control the news whether it is liberal or conservative or anything in between.

bito
Member

Issa, Mrs. Greenspan and President Nixon!

For some stupid reason I flipped on Mute the Press for the first time in many months to hear Darrell Issa droning on about the “Fast and Furious” and all of it’s monumental consequences and harm it has done to democracy as we know it. Oddly he did not bring up the conspiracy that the whole episode was concocted by the President and his AG to overturn the second amendment and take everyone’s firearms. He must save that crazy talk for Fox audiences exclusively know that they will actually believe such bullshit.

No, what I heard was him comparing the non compliance by AG Holder to turn over certain records and the President using Executive Privilege with Nixon and insinuating “Watergate.” And who should chime in with her own Nixon line but Andrea Mitchell! UnFuckingBelievable!

Nixon who illegally burgled offices, wiretapped, used the FBI, IRS, CIA along with laundering hush money, just for starters, is compared to President Obama for Fast and Furious?
Now Issa I could excuse, he’s a grade A+ megalomaniac drunk with his chairmanship but for Mrs. Greenspan to chime in with her Nixon remark was plainly ignorant. She is old enough to remember the whole Watergate/Nixon episode and for her to chime in was completely irresponsible. She should have scolded and mocked Issa for making any comparison!

Back to my Sunday morning routine of making sure I Mute The Press

goleafsgo
Member
goleafsgo

Now I know it is just not me! I do watch/listen to a lot of MSNBC, and I praise the inventor of the “mute” button everyday…throughout the day until Martin, the Rev, Ed, Rachel and Lawrence come on. My family is usually very understanding of my uncontrollable rants and outbursts at some host who fails to ask a follow up question, or dispute an outright lie. Of course one expects that of Joe, at least he makes no bones about where he stands, but those like Andrea, Luke (Grrr!) Chuck have a different tone when talking to liberals. Sorta condescending like..LOL! That is my impression, especially when the liberal guest is not allowed to respond – “Sorry, we’ve run out of time.” It just seems that the last word always goes to the Republican. Anyhow, just sounding off.

Ad Lib, you have done an excellent analysis of MSNBC on all fronts. I agree totally with all you have said. Re the Oil Company ads, you are right on the mark. One has to admit they are extremely well done piece of propaganda. I wonder. Do they ask for their time slots i.e. Rachel’s shows or are their ads assigned by MSNBC?

Thanks for this, Ad Lib. It just goes to confirm, in my mind, that Progressives are losing the battle. I hope I am wrong

bito
Member

goleafsgo, You captured my experience with MSNBC almost perfectly! Do you have a camera in my house! 😆

bito
Member

Excellent job AdLib and it reminds me of when CBS was sold in the midst of the huge story on tobacco and the end of independent news. A major loss for the American people. What was the second, perhaps the exception made for NewsCorp, I don’t know, there may have been others. The bad thing about Murdoch is that the Aussie’s warned the Brits, the Brits warned the US and we ended up with FOX.

What to do, what to do? Now that most media is corporate controlled how can it possibly be rolled back when they have the final say on what passes or not in the FCC and Congress?

Wonder why so many Oil and Gas commercials? Gotta soften all those die-hard libs up for the #1 issue for them this election cycle: Completely unregulated fracking

foodchain
Member
foodchain

AdLib, I didn’t bring my notepad and every paragraph as a response, so I won’t make a comment on the entirety, but David Frum and David Brooks were conservatives who seem to be—–what? reasonable? learned a thing or two since Bush? How do we even judge rational speech from a GOP? That being said those two, and Steve Schmidt possibly (haven’t heard enough) are potentials.

But the bigger issue, which you +addressed, is that MSNBC is playing a ratings game (and I think Phil Griffen is a piss ant, small brained kinda guy)so truth doesn’t matter, balance is only to develop a viewer base, not to develop a balance of opinion. Imus, as a self-proclaimed GOP let Joe Scarborough in the am spot with his “napppy ho” idiocy. And it worked. I don’t think they care about truth or balance or the voter, the news, or the country. Perhaps some of the hosts do, but the station is business first.

GirlOutWest
Member
GirlOutWest

It’s the best we have at this point. I think Thomas Roberts sneaks in some good points for my team periodically. Chris Hayes although a weekend anchor is good as are Alex Wagner, MHP, Tamron Hall and I’m surprisingly happy with Martin Bashir.

Heck I like MSNBC better than the rest so it’s the one we watch most.

Life isn’t fair so we’ve got to make the most of what we’ve got.

Sabreen60
Member
Sabreen60

Stephanie Miller on Current TV is an unwavering supporter of President Obama. Bill Press is a supporter as well, although he can be wishy washy.

SallyT
Member

Sabreen, So is Jennifer Granholm/The War Room With Jennifer Granholm on Current is a die-hard for the President, as well.

SallyT
Member

Good point, GirlOutWest! MSNBC is better than the rest. They all could be better but for now that how it is. 🙂

SueInCa
Member

I just have to say RATigan is really no big loss at least to me. I don’t deal in hypocrites and he is one of the biggest order.

He made his bones on WALL STREET and I am sure he left there with tons of money. Then he pretends he had some epiphany and Wall Street are all now greedy bastards. If that is so, why does he not make a few big contributions to charity? I am sure those people could use his “greedy bastard” funds. Then he uses the unemployed to run around the country on a “jobs tour” that is really to promote his book. How much lower on the human scale can he get? I will not miss Ratigan and I pity the people in the District or State that he ultimately runs for office in.

PatsyT
Member

Did I just hear Dylan Ratigan is leaving the line up? Yes I did!

SueInCa
Member

Hey my nuclear friend. Hope you are doing well and the info I sent to you was worthwhile

kevrob
Member
kevrob

With MSNBC, it’s really hard to say that it’s “mixed” in terms of political viewpoint. Their primetime lineup is 100% progressive, starting with Matthews. And in fairness, you can’t weigh primetime vs the rest of the day.

Another glaring take-away is that all of the primetime “pundits” share the exact same opinion and cover the exact same stories. Whether you’re watching Rachel, Lawrence, Ed, or Al Sharpton, they are all going to give you the exact same opinion. Al’s opinion is going to the the same as Rachel’s two hours later.

From that perspective, MSNBC is significantly different than FoxNews.