William Boardman -- Reader
MSNBC Can Be Trusted by the Established Order -- That's a Problem
MSNBC's slogan, "Lean Forward," does not encourage actually moving forward
The central argument of Michael's Arria's lively new book about America's so-called "progressive network" is not that MSNBC is bad at what it does, but that, all too often, even what MSNBC does well doesn't do much good for most Americans. As Arria puts it in the introduction of Medium Blue (a spring 2014 release by CounterPunch Books):
"This book doesn't possess a hidden agenda. It's an attack on MSNBC from the left, an attempt to highlight and track the problematic ties between the network and America's ruling class. The message of MSNBC juxtaposed with the propaganda of Fox, forms a false dichotomy and leads Americans to believe a strong debate is gripping the nation". [MSNBC] is very much part of the problem."
Since MSNBC is part of NBCUniversal, which is part of Comcast, it would be naïve for anyone to expect much more than infotainment from a company that has a history of being a political style opportunist without any noticeable principles or ideology, those being mutually exclusive qualities. MSNBC is not "Fox for Democrats," as Bill Clinton and others have claimed. Fox is reliably ideological and unreliably factual. MSNBC is not reliably ideological (at least not in the same predictable way -- what would Democratic ideology sound like anyway?) but MSNBC is moderately reliable factually in the sense that what you hear on MSNBC is pretty much factual (at least in prime time). When MSNBC misleads, it's mostly by indirection, through cliche' and conventional demonization, by over-emphasis and omission.
As Arria sees it, "MSNBC is packed with true believers who preach the false hope of objectivity". Everyone working for the station seems to believe that they operate without restriction, often defining themselves as independently minded journalists attempting to squash the lies of a deceptive media."
Arria doesn't call this self-regard delusional, but he provides ample evidence that it is. In America today, an "independent broadcast or cable news operation" would be an oxymoron (if it could exist at all), since ratings and corporate profits depend on predictability within a limited spectrum of perspective that excludes actual independence. Or as Arria succinctly makes the point: "How much disrupting can a network like MSNBC ever really do?" [emphasis in original]