MSNBC Joins the Anti-Romney Bandwagon

January 5th, 2012 at 12:15 am | 52 Comments |

| Print

I have always been weary of the whine regarding the purported “liberal media”; having won 60% of presidential elections over the last 40 years, near-complete dominance of the radio airwaves, and a cable news behemoth with ratings greater than the aggregate of both its nearest competitors, conservatives are hardly the most suppressed segment of our society. Yet even for a skeptic like me, MSNBC’s coverage of the Iowa caucuses was truly a sight to behold.

For starters, once it became apparent in recent days that Mitt Romney was at least charted for the top three—a squeaker of a victory or a third place finish in a closely bunched spread—”Hardball” host Chris Matthews began rallying to the defense of the bombarded Newt Gingrich. Matthews upbraided the insidious Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future at the close of his Monday broadcast, trumpeting the end of democracy as we know it with Newt Gingrich as the first slain giant.

Like Gingrich himself, he made no assertion that the content of anti-Gingrich advertisements was false. Nor did he document what, exactly, was “nasty” about the PAC advertisements. Matthews’ qualms were couched entirely in the advertisements’ funding apparatus (undercutting his very own argument by identifying Romney as the attributable candidate Restore Our Future supports). Were any viewers unaware that Restore Our Future is a pro-Romney Super PAC? If they were, Matthews certainly took care to remove all premise of anonymity. Problem solved.

But Matthews’ duty was not yet done. Once it became clear that the anti-Newt barrage was doing nothing to diminish Romney’s support in Iowa on Tuesday, Matthews took up the cause of giving a Gingrich attack line free air-time—quite a favor given Gingrich’s inability to afford a riposte on his own behalf. In Matthews’ hypothesis of the nominating contest going forward, he began echoing Gingrich’s recent charge that the Massachusetts state health law signed by Romney had provisions for state-funded abortion. No less than four times over the course of Tuesday’s broadcast, Matthews repeated various iterations of how an ennervated Gingrich would now fly to New Hampshire and South Carolina to warn them that Romney funded abortion at the state level as governor, energizing “the Pat Buchanan crowd” in the former and the southern evangelicals in the latter. Howard Fineman, nodding sagely in agreement, couldn’t help but concur, confirming the real threat now posed to Romney’s candidacy by the emergent Rick Santorum—just as he had done previously regarding Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and most recently, Gingrich himself.

There was another instance of strange bedfellows made Tuesday night: Ed Schultz waxed poetic about Santorum’s closing speech, praising it as a refreshing ode to the American working class before declaring Santorum’s retail politicking to be superior to that of President Obama. Meanwhile, Al Sharpton’s contribution to the evening consisted of declaring that every development somehow redounded to the president’s benefit, at one point declaring how worried the Romney camp should be given “the clear lack of enthusiasm among Iowans to remove the incumbent”. By the evening’s conclusion, the MSNBC narrative was clear: Romney was an insidious corporate toady whose chance at the nomination was quickly fading; Gingrich the beleaguered victim of the cruel underbelly of modern campaign finance, ready to expose the liberal governor’s pro-choice record; Santorum the only hope for a Republican Party looking to reconnect with Reagan Democrats; and the coming war involving the three would only help President Obama.

One can be forgiven for suspecting that the MSNBC crowd would prefer that President Obama not face the candidate universally considered to be the toughest challenge to his reelection. Could it be that the channel’s talent has decided to do its part to stop Romney at the gate? With an apparent move underway by movement conservatives to do the same, the thought isn’t entirely out of the question. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Recent Posts by Jay Gatsby



52 Comments so far ↓

  • Graychin

    Yeah, yeah, we know. MSNBC leans left. It ain’t always Fair and Balanced.

    Don’t get your undergarments all in a bunch. Do your blood pressure a favor and watch Fox News instead.

  • wileedog

    “Romney was an insidious corporate toady”

    In all fairness to MSNBC, who in general I despise on the same level with Fox, there is nothing all that fallacious with that assertion.

  • Bobby McGee

    Except this has absolutely nothing to do with left/right at all. If Romney or anybody is a fast win, that means the conflict narrative ends and so does the election narrative. Which means less ratings, and thus less money. Meanwhile a narrative of more conflict means more screen time and an extended story, so more ads.

    You made the news profit orientated rather than truth orientated, and then complain about them acting in a profit seeking manner.

    • gmat

      Exactly.

      MSNBC is not in the news business, anymore than a commercial fisherman is in the bait business.

      The media are in the business of selling audiences to advertisers.

  • hisgirlfriday

    I happen to think Chris Matthews is generally a pompous windbag but when he pegged the contrast in caucus night speeches as between Rick Santorum as a heartfelt blue collar conservative and Mitt Romney feeling like a slick salesman selling you merchandise, I had to agree with that bit of analysis.

    I have noticed in the last 48 hours that MSNBC has had some strange cheap shots on polygamy though that I think are out of line. Like Lawrence O’Donnell claiming the reason that Santorum brought up his grandpa is for the contrast with Mitt’s Mexican polygamist grandpa. Alex Wagner, whose show I’ve mostly enjoyed to this point, also had a random cheap shot on polygamy during her show today but she caught herself realizing what bad form that was and quickly changed the subject.

    I agree though with Bobby McGee that I don’t think MSNBC is attempting to boost the other candidates just because they think Romney is the strongest opponent against Obama. They just want to pretend the contest isn’t over to keep their left-leaning audience entertained with the ongoing GOP nomination circus. Surely the folks at MSNBC are smart enough to realize that their network has little sway on the GOP nominating contests, and much stronger than any political bias in establishment journalism is conflict bias. The media also has a desire for horseraces to cover because all political journalists wish they were sports reporters and cover politics that way as if politics mattered just as little as sports did. If political journalists treated politics as if policy actually mattered, the job wouldn’t be any fun and our corrupt, dysfunctional political process would be soul-crushingly depressing.

    • rubbernecker

      The media also has a desire for horseraces to cover because all political journalists wish they were sports reporters and cover politics that way as if politics mattered just as little as sports did.

      Well said!

      Anyway, bring on Mitt Romney. He’s a nowhere man who’s no match for Barack Obama.

      • Reflection Ephemeral

        It’s a consequence of everything on TV and throughout the media– whether it’s politics, warfare, or anything else– being treated as entertainment. Even sports coverage isn’t about sports, per se, it’s about personality clashes.

  • Giggles

    MSNBC is pitched to the left, since Barry O’Bama will be their nomination and Washington is on holiday they need stuff to show.

    What could be better than to show the Republican nomination process as it involves GOP on GOP action, hilarious OOPPPSS moments, alleged sexual predators, serial adulterers and robots hitting each other (not Transformers – Old Romney Vs New Romney). All of this is on the GOP’s dime, hell someone gave Perry millions of dollars to look like Brokeback Mountain’s leading man, sad.

    There have been so few proper policy announcements with the exception of repeal Lawrence, Roe etc which they can’t touch. Empty promises like ‘I will create jobs…” and I will bomb Iran means that the Dems don’t even have to get out of bed.

    So yes, MSNBC are probably guilty of laziness, but since the GOP is providing the comic relief the views love it.

  • balconesfault

    So … being critical of a candidate relying a SuperPAC funded by big anonymous donors to conduct cheap attacks on the opposition is a liberal thing?

    Yeah … I guess it is.

  • ConnerMcMaub

    Jay Gatsby is seeing conspiracies where none exist. Last night’s Rachel Maddow started with her attacking Rick Santorum for his hypocrisy regarding John Ensign (who Santorum warned when his former staffer sent FOX a letter) and Anthony Weiner who Santorum was publicly urging to resign on FOX, although he didn’t have an affair or break the law unlike Ensign. She also talked about his sweet heart deal loans, saying John McCain doesn’t understand torture like Santorum, and wants to outlaw contraception. Jay Gatsby also completely ignores the 4 hours of pro Romney with Morning Joe.

  • Nanotek

    Romney good always … others bad alway… criticism of Romney bad or unfair always…

    how nuanced

  • steelydan

    I’m not following the logic of this post. So by coming to the defense of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, MSNBC was demonstrating a leftist position?

    I have no feelings about MSNBC one way or another, but it’s kind of hard for me to see their defense of two candidates who are far to the right of Romney as evidence of a leftist agenda.

    • balconesfault

      So by coming to the defense of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, MSNBC was demonstrating a leftist position?

      Yep. And of course, when they point out Newt’s own ethical challenges … MSNBC is demonstrating a leftist position. And when they bring up Santorum’s way out of the mainstream homophobia, or his own K-street adventures … MSNBC is demonstrating a leftist position.

      And if they talk about Romney’s former willingness to support things like gay marriage, or government funded healthcare, etc … MSNBC is demonstrating a leftist bias.

  • nhthinker

    Is MSNBC still on the air? I think my cable company just moved them to the “200 extra inane” channels option with Oprah and Current.

    MSNBC horseracing analysis of Republicans is equivalent to men talking about the pain of childbirth: which of course I can get that on cable channel 2372 if I’m willing to pay for it!

    • ottovbvs

      Actually I thought MSNBC was pulling larger audiences than CNN?

      • Traveler

        You gotta be kidding? If so, great. CNN is a shell of its former self.

        • ottovbvs

          2011:

          “CNN rebounded after posting its lowest-rated year in primetime in 2010. The network was up 17% to 689,000 viewers, which was still CNN’s second worst yearly average behind 2010. CNN finished behind MSNBC (775,000) in total viewers for a second consecutive year. MSNBC was up 2% in total viewers though down 11% at 8PM following the departure of star Keith Olbermann.”

    • Slide

      Yes, MSNBC is still on the air. I know you don’t stray much from the “Evolution is a Hoax” channel and the “Birthers are Us” channel, but I am sure you can find it if you look hard enough.

  • TJ Parker

    LOL. Yah, you don’t expect Chris Matthews to be so opinionated, do you?? Gosh, its almost like watching Karl Rove or Bill Kristol on Fox News.

    • balconesfault

      LOL. Yah, you don’t expect Chris Matthews to be so opinionated, do you?? Gosh, its almost like watching Karl Rove or Bill Kristol on Fox News.

      Not really. You never see Karl Rove or Bill Kristol offer honest admiration for a Democrat.

  • dante

    I have no problem with MSNBC, Fox News (except their GLARING errors which happen all too frequently), or a newspaper’s opinion pages… It’s OPINION. MSNBC pushes the left just like Fox News pushes the right, and if you think that Fox News didn’t push the Hillary storyline back in ’08 in a desperate hope to derail Obama, you were watching a different channel than I was.

    What I don’t agree with is a paper like the WSJ that allows it’s Opinion to seep into it’s News. Every “news” story on Romney is positive. Every “news” story on anyone else is negative. Yesterday in the summary of a news story on the Iowa caucuses, there was a bit about Romney using the momentum of Iowa to springboard to NH (implying that since he won, he automatically gained a “bounce”). Reading the article there was no such implication, at all. The summary had just been written up to push the pro-Romney line as much as possible.

    And you’re criticizing an opinionator for *daring* to criticize Romney? Seriously?

    • balconesfault

      What I don’t agree with is a paper like the WSJ that allows it’s Opinion to seep into it’s News.

      Well, to be realistic, Fox News does pretty much exactly the same.

      Tell me when the last time is you’ve seen Fox do a hard hitting feature on corruption by a Republican politician.

      Or the first time?

    • nhthinker

      The WSJ has actually been criticizing Romney a significant amount.
      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904537404576554692126810066.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop
      Their editorial called him surprisingly timid because:
      1) his capital gains tax cut is only for incomes less than $200K- the WSJ wants to make sure the uber-rich get more tax cuts (because that would supposely help the economy more).
      2) Romney did not propose a specific plan for totally upending the tax system.

      Gingrich is using the “surprisingly timid” quote from WSJ in his most recent TV ad.

      • dante

        Did you really have to look back ~4 months to find something that wasn’t pro-Romney?

        • nhthinker

          Actually I saw the Gingrich ad quoting WSJ today.
          I have noticed that the WSJ pundits have generally been trying to sell anyone but Romney.
          Murdoch likes Santorum much more than Romney. Steve Forbes likes anyone for a flat tax (i.e., not-Romney)

  • ottovbvs

    Oh boy we’re back to the full court press for Romney. Romney proxies funded by multi millionaires trashed Gingrich in IA…who is unaware of this? And despite years of campaigning in IA and the expenditure of millions Romney couldn’t improve on his performance in 08. What else is there to say. Obviously a heck of a lot of Republicans have no enthusiasm for him but as he’s always been he remains the likely default candidate. MSNBC is no more anti Romney than they are anti Gingrich or anti Obama. They’re putting out a political shoutfest to sell ad space. How naive is Gatsby… or disingenuous?

  • Houndentenor

    Are you claiming that MSNBC is more liberal than Fox is conservative?

    • Marquis

      They should fire the executive who had the bright idea to hire Al Sharpton.

  • Oldskool

    You forget how unpopular Romney is with Republicans as well as Dems. So it’s hardly a surprise that both camps are taking shots at him. It’s like shooting a blowfish in a barrel.

  • kuri3460

    I guess if you completely ignore everything that JC Watts, Michael Steele, and Steve Schmidt said on Tuesday night, then yes, you could say that MSNBC was clearly biased and promoting an unfair agenda against Mitt Romney.

    MSNBC certainly leans left, but to their credit they count two former Republican members of Congress, John McCain’s campaign advisor, and the last RNC chair among their contributors. Who’s the highest ranking Democrat that regularly appears on Fox News? Alan Colmes?

    • balconesfault

      That would be one of the men most responsible for killing the public option … Evan Bayh.

  • PracticalGirl

    I am SHOCKED that a network that has openly stated it’s intent to skew to the left and adopted the slogan “Lean Forward” might have a perspective that is exactly as advertised. You know, as opposed to that supercilious Fox News network who, from the beginning, stated their intent to offer a conservative, alternative perspective to other networks and yet has tried to deny it ever since. Quite effective with the base, but really? I thought you were more sophisticated than that.

    “One can be forgiven for suspecting that the MSNBC crowd would prefer that President Obama not face the candidate universally considered to be the toughest challenge to his reelection. Could it be that the channel’s talent has decided to do its part to stop Romney at the gate? ”

    You mean how Fox News and talk radio has tried every conceivable, nasty lying tactic on Earth to stop Obama? Wake up, Jay. “Fair and Balanced”- when it is anything but- was bound to give way to the other side of skewed. But MSNBC is clear-very clear-about who they are. Don’t like it? Don’t watch it.

  • TerryF98

    Romney is just another in a long line of draft dodging republicans who are chickenhawk warmongers. Here is a picture of him supporting the Vietnam draft that he escaped by going to France to live in a palace.

    In effect he is more than happy to send other peoples sons off to fight wars he is not willing to fight himself. Neither is he willing to send his own pampered sons to war.

  • nhthinker

    ottovbvs

    “MSNBC is no more anti Romney than they are anti Gingrich or anti Obama.”

    PracticalGirl
    “But MSNBC is clear-very clear-about who they are. Don’t like it? Don’t watch it.”

    Obviously, Otto is just too dim to recognize what is “clear, very clear” to PracticalGirl.

    • ottovbvs

      Unfortunately, thinker you’re too dim to realize these two statements aren’t contradictory. Another reasoning zero I’m afraid.

      • nhthinker

        “Unfortunately, thinker you’re too dim to realize these two statements aren’t contradictory. ”

        We can ask Practical Girl if she thinks it’s clear that MSNBC’s lean-forward politics prevent it from being as anti-Obama as much as it would be anti-Romney or anti-Republican.

        I guess you are too dim to recognize the contradiction.

        • ottovbvs

          “We can ask Practical Girl if she thinks it’s clear that MSNBC’s lean-forward politics prevent it from being as anti-Obama as much as it would be anti-Romney or anti-Republican.”

          Er…that’s not what you said. You quoted two specific sentences…they are not contradictory bozo.

        • nhthinker

          PracticalGirl’s implicit message was that MSNBC does not hide that they are supporters of more progressive policies and candidates like Obama and tend to disparage more conservative policies and candidates like Romney.
          That is indeed contradictory to your statement, dimwit.

        • ottovbvs

          “PracticalGirl’s implicit message”

          But that’s not what you said was genius? But then accuracy never was your strong point.

        • nhthinker

          That’s exactly what I said, dimwit. I wonder if PracticalGirl will let us know whether she saw her statement offering a conflicting POV from yours.

        • Traveler

          Thinker, what is the matter with you? All three of them are POGers, and MSNBC trashed all three according to Ottovon. That is entirely consistent with the leftward bias stated by PG. So you not only look foolish to begin with, you compound the silliness by calling a dimwit those who call you out. Of course, I can be more abrasive than I should, so I am not one to talk. But I am usually right.

        • nhthinker

          “All three of them are POGers, and MSNBC trashed all three according to Ottovon.”

          The question was not whether Ottovbvs saw MSNBC as trashing Obama the same as Romney…The question was whether PracticalGirl saw that as a possiblity- I read her comment as saying something completely conflicting with your paraphrasing of otto’s POV…So unless you have a alter-personality here as PracticalGirl, your comments here are just as dimwitted as Otto’s.

  • ottovbvs

    I’m bound to say it’s going to be very funny watching the Republican party go into battle with as their standard bearer an asset stripping Wall Street banker worth around $350 million who will be setting out his plans to scrap Medicare/Medicaid; privatize social security; cut federal spending on the environment/health/education et al; reduce regulation of the financial industry; and under no circumstances increase taxes on the top 1 or 2% of the country. The mere thought of it makes me chuckle. Not to mention the months of thinker claiming we have no right to see Romney’s tax return. Hilarious.

  • Nanotek

    (1) audit the fed

    (2) Romney release his tax returns

  • bdtex

    I’m as bedrock Dem as anyone and in all fairness to Jay,the MSNBCers he named are pretty bad with the exception of Fineman. Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell are really the only ones in the evening MSNBC lineup that I care to watch. Most of the MSNBCers were blatantly pro-Obama during the 2008 Dem primary/caucus campaign. Since then I can’t stand to watch them. KO made a good move when he left.

  • Rob_654

    If Conservatives truly believed in what they are selling and that Americans really want it – they would certainly not put forth Romney – they would put forth someone like Santorum or Bachmann.

    Heck how about Bachmann \ King 2012?

    Let the Conservatives put up two very Conservative folks and let them run against Obama \ Biden and we’ll see which the American people want.

  • Kane

    Above all else, MSNBC, FOX, CNN, and the rest of the lazy media wants a horse race in 2012, a long-drawn-out contentious battle with neverending conflict and sensationalism that provides high ratings, website visits, and tons of tweets and attention.

    Also, let’s not forget that Rupert Murdoch endorsed Rick Santorum. And the conservative Union-Leader endorsed Newt Gingrich. And Redstate’s Erick Erickson has leaned towards Jon Huntsman. And Andrew Sullivan has offered his endorsement to Ron Paul. Are we to assume that they too are part of a liberal conspiracy to take down Mitt Romney so that President Barack Obama can be re-elected?