Back when MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts was announced, I went out on a limb to suggest that this wasn’t a move away from opinion at MSNBC. Rather, it was a new way to package opinion: by disguising it as a straight newscast. The seeds were planted on Monday, and they began to sprout on Tuesday. After a week of Thomas Roberts, I’d say the weeds are in full bloom. Let’s look at the rest of the week:
Wednesday: The big guest of the day was David Brock, who was given a largely follow-up-free soapbox to mislead viewers about Hillary Clinton’s emails. John Ridley appeared later to talk about the meaning of genius. And we got interviews with Ari Melber and Steve Kornacki, both part of the channel’s progressive opinion line-up. I missed parts of this show but the online segments don’t show any right-of-center opinion or analysis guests.
Thursday: A lot of breaking news and yet Roberts found a way to shoe-horn Ed Schultz in the stuck airplane coverage. Is he an aeronautics expert? Here’s a secret about how The Cable Game is played. When a guest has been booked, it’s a lot easier to put him on the air even when his segment has been cancelled than to find an actual expert. So Schultz, who was almost certainly intended to speak on some political issue, possibly the Hillary emails, instead feigned expertise on airplane matters. At least that way they can still plug his failing show. And how many viewers will realize that he was actually booked to inject progressive opinion into the non-opinion Thomas Roberts newscast?
Also on Thursday: MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald to opine on Hillary’s emails. He is a self-described “MSNBC political reporter,” a first-rate bit of camouflage. Alex’s pedigree in journalism includes writing for Salon and Think Progress, where he was one of the site’s editors. But at MSNBC, he’s just another reporter! See, they’re moving away from opinion.
Come Friday, and it’s more of the same. This time we get three MSNBC opinionizers: Chris Hayes, Steve Kornacki, and a return visit from aeronautics expert Ed Schultz. All from the left. Plus a representative of the Urban League (left). And then another “MSNBC reporter:” Michele Richinick, an anti-gun advocate masquerading as a journalist. Are you starting to see a pattern?
Unless there was someone I missed, in an entire week of MSNBC’s non-opinion newscast every commenter and/or analyst was someone from the left. No conservative or Republican viewpoints were represented. When that happens five days in a row, on premiere week no less, that’s not an accident. It’s their blueprint. Just like the Lean Forward slogan that still appears on the screen during MSNBC’s “non-opinion” news hours.
Opposite Thomas Roberts, Fox News managed to find time for two Democratic guests in just a single broadcast hour. That one hour on FNC had more opposing viewpoints than ten hours of Thomas Roberts. And Fox didn’t disguise their opinion guests by calling them “reporters.” Think about that the next time you hear the disingenuous Maddow or other MSNBC flacks deride Fox as a PR arm for a political party. Freud had a term for that.