Media critic rips apart claim that MSNBC is the 'Fox News of the left'

Media critic rips apart claim that MSNBC is the 'Fox News of the left'

To those who really are hard-left in their politics — for example, author Noam Chomsky or U.K. politician George Galloway — the notion that the United States’ mainstream news media are overwhelmingly to the left is laughable. Chomsky, for decades, has argued that mainstream news outlets have a corporate bias, not a leftist bias.

MSNBC has been described by some reporters as a left-wing version of Fox News, but MSNBC’s focus is really center-left rather than hard-left. The cable news outlet has its share of liberal hosts, from Rachel Maddow to Joy Reid to Lawrence O’Donnell. But some well-known Never Trump conservatives are also MSNBC hosts, including Joe Scarborough (a former GOP congressman) and Nicolle Wallace (who was in the George W. Bush Administration). And Never Trumpers like Charlie Sykes, attorney George Conway, Michael Steele (former chairman of the Republican National Committee) and former GOP strategist Rick Wilson have been frequent MSNBC guests.

Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, in his November 7 column, lays out some reasons why he believes it is inaccurate to describe MSNBC as the Fox News of the left.

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“While Fox News remains a talking-point-promotion outlet for Republican candidates,” Wemple argues, “its liberal counterpart on the cable box does something vastly different for Democratic candidates. It covers them, that is.”

Wemple illustrates his point by noting how Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s campaign has been covered on MSNBC compared to far-right Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News.

“Many critics over the years have posited that MSNBC is the lefty mirror image of Fox News,” Wemple writes. “If so, it needs to pick up its game in the propaganda department. There’s no question that it can be more hospitable to Fetterman and his Democratic peers than Fox News and some other outlets. Following Fetterman’s debate troubles, for example, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell compared him to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill…. Yet MSNBC has no analogue to Hannity, a guy with the message discipline of a coxswain. Nor does it relish forking over its airwaves to promotional interviews with like-minded candidates.”

Wemple goes on to say that “mainstream outlets writ large simply don’t do for Democrats what Fox News does for Republicans, an argument recently advanced by Media Matters senior fellow Matthew Gertz.

READ MORE: Why reviews of Fetterman’s debate performance were 'oddly disconnected' from Americans’ experience with illness in office

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