Cenk Uygur, like Donohue and Olberman, could not be relied on to play well within the lines. His early evening show, "The Young Turks," lasted just six months on MSNBC, despite drawibng a good audience in the 18-34 demographic. But Griffin told Uyger that "people in Washington" did not like his tone and content. MSNBC forced Uygur out by moving him to a less desirable weekend time slot. Instead, Uygur moved his show to Current TV, until that effort died, and is now online. Uygur's replacement was Al Sharpton, "who has publicly vowed to never criticize the President" reports Arria. The host is the message.
Omitted from Arria's analysis until a brief, passing mention three pages from the end of the book is Lawrence O'Donnell. Given the harsh assessments of his fellow news hosts, omitting O'Donnell may be something of a backhanded compliment. O'Donnell is the MSNBC host most clearly in the Donohue-Olbermann-Uygur line.
The last chapter of Arria's 90-page book is "The Betrayal of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden," a betrayal that is hardly unique to MSNBC. That the truth about America made available from these two whistleblowers has not been widely celebrated in American media is no surprise, and perhaps shouldn't be surprising even at what Phil Griffin says is "really the place to go for progressives and people who are looking for smart, thoughtful analysis." Or not, if the place is MSNBC, where the service to their country by these two truth tellers has been mostly ignored. Alternatively, as Arria documents, MSNBC hosts have treated Manning and Snowden with contempt and ad hominem attacks that avoid the substance of their revelations.
A sad thing about American media culture is that MSNBC may be the best one can hope for from corporate television (viewer-supported Democracy NOW! is only an hour a day) and should be consumed with care. Unlike Fox, MSNBC does not rely on distortion and denial in service to an ideology. MSNBC's bias is a variable that allows many stories to be reported accurately within a pragmatic restraint that serves MSNBC's place in the power structure. Sometimes a story goes unreported for obvious reasons, like MSNBC's silence on the controversial proposed merger between its parent company, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable. And sometimes MSNBC gets an important issue like voter suppression exactly right, much to the annoyance of both Fox and the N.Y. Times. News should be consumed with care and knowledge. Michael Arria's Medium Blue is a useful and provocative consumer's guide.