After having determined that Thomas Roberts’ “newscast” is more accurately described as a conduit for left-of-center opinion (like most programs on MSNBC) TCG thought it was time to take a closer look at another example of “news” on MSNBC. The Daily Rundown is now The Rundown and it’s anchored by José Diaz-Balart. Is it as one-sided and tendentious as Roberts’ show? That’s the good news: it’s not. So does that mean it’s “fair and balanced?” Well, as they say in romcoms, it’s complicated.
One thing we saw on today’s Rundown that we didn’t see in a whole week of Thomas Roberts: a Republican! Early in the first hour there was an interview (lasting about 3 minutes) with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, FL); the show opened with a snippet from Marco Rubio, giving the anchor a chance to jump on his statement regarding immigration. (It seems that immigration is a particular hobby-horse ridden by Diaz-Balart, much as LGBT issues are for Roberts.)
Rundown has the usual over-reliance on conventional-wisdom types from Politico but also found time to do a friendly chat with the gay couple featured in Hillary’s announcement video. An interview with Judy Cho (D, CA) focusing on immigration (natch) was followed by a segment with MSNBC “legal analyst” Faith Jenkins. Then just when it seemed like The Rundown was starting to resemble an actual newscast, who should turn up but Alex Seitz-Wald to report on Hillary’s road trip. TCG is willing to bet there are actual NBC News people on the Hillary campaign beat, yet Diaz-Balart went to a guy who wrote lefty opinion pieces for Salon and Think Progress as their “reporter” on the Hillary campaign. Another left-of-center MSNBC employee (Benjy Sarlin) followed to pile on Rubio over the issue of, yes, immigration. After that, just for a change of pace, Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress showed up to gush over the Hillary road trip. Clearly the bookers were working overtime to balance out that 3 minutes allowed to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.
To analyze a Chris Jansing report on Iraq, Diaz-Balart turned to Steve Clemons, an Atlantic writer who previously declared Obama to be “a masterful chess player” because of the ultra-wonderful stupendousness of the Iran deal he negotiated. Aliyah Frumin did a brief report on Chris Christie, leading into an entire segment dedicated to Chelsea Clinton. After a discussion with Larry Sabato, somebody must have realized immigration was being given short shrift, so it was time to ding Marco Rubio again. The designated dinger was Cristina Jiminez of “United We Dream,” who was happy to talk about Rubio turning his back on his community. Needless to say, viewers were spared any appearances of people holding contrarian viewpoints on immigration.
The Rundown seems to be another way to inject a few cc’s (or more) of opinion into what MSNBC wants you to believe is straightforward news coverage. To be sure this is not unique to MSNBC, but other news networks don’t freeze out contrary opinions on key issues, don’t call their opinion people “reporters,” and don’t use them in that capacity during what is described as news programming. One more thing: for reasons that totally escape this Cable Gamer, the list of upcoming topics that is plastered on the screen throughout The Rundown is upside-down—the current topic is at the bottom, the next one is above it, and so on. In other words, the show is called The Rundown, but the topic list on screen runs up! Why? I don’t know, he’s on third, and I don’t give a damn.