On a post on his blog, Real Time host Bill Maher claimed that MSNBC is turning into Fox News because they are as obsessed with Bridgegate as Fox is with Benghazi.
Whatever we had is not working any more. You’re obviously interested in another man: Chris Christie. You’re obsessed with him. So I wanted you to hear it from me first. I’m going to start seeing other news organizations. I’ll miss what we had. It was a rocket ship ride. We were both passionate flaming liberals and we didn’t care what the world thought of us. It was a glorious time. We finished each other’s Sarah Palin jokes. But now we never talk about any of the things we used to talk about: global warming, gun control, poverty… All because Chris Christie came along and put you under his spell.
Look at yourself. You’re turning into Fox News. Bridgegate has become your Benghazi, and this isn’t easy to say, but you and I are no longer on the same news cycle. Sure, you read me the results of a recent Gallup poll, but you never really ask me how I’m feeling. It’s not you, it’s… Chris Christie.
You’ve stopped leaning forward. Look, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little lanes of traffic don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. You’re a young news channel. You’ll meet other viewers. It’s for the best. You can focus on your career. And we can still be friends. We’ll always have Obamacare.
Bill Maher has been steady in his belief that the Christie scandal was over blown, but his comparison of MSNBC to Fox News is off base for one reason. Benghazi is a right wing hoax. It is a smear campaign that lacks facts. Bridgegate really did happen. We know that the Christie administration closed lanes on the George Washington Bridge. That’s not up for debate.
A more fundamental question surrounds the nature of MSNBC. Is the lean forward network becoming hyper partisan like Fox News?
In a word, no. It’s not even close. Name the liberal host who has a three hour long daily program on Fox News. You can’t, because it doesn’t exist. MSNBC hands over three hours a day to Joe Scarborough, and follows it up with an hour of the always Republican friendly Chuck Todd.
The reason why MSNBC is not becoming Fox News is that it isn’t run like Fox. Roger Ailes runs FNC with a clear pro-Republican agenda. Everything that viewers see on the air is designed in some way to either help Republicans, or hurt Democrats. In contrast, one of MSNBC’s main problems is that there appears to be no vision and consistency to what they are programming.
MSNBC boss Phil Griffin tried to organize his schedule by putting like styled hosts together in programming blocs, but the network still lacks a consistent message and point of view. MSNBC is trying to have neutral news along with progressive/liberal opinions. MSNBC’s lack of unity in message mirrors the grassroots left endless potential for infighting and disagreement. The Democratic Party is a different story. Democrats are more united today than they have been in decades.
Bill Maher swung and missed on this one. He fell into a Republican trap. A favorite conservative argument is that MSNBC is just like Fox News, but it isn’t. It doesn’t resemble Fox in any way, shape, or form. Maher’s blog post is an example of how seemingly liberal people can get suckered in by Republican talking points.
Maher didn’t come off like an independent thinker. He was just plain wrong. The two networks are night and day different. Fox News is the shameless propaganda arm for the Republican Party while MSNBC sells itself as left, but is really suffering from a major identity crisis.
Bill Maher likes to go against the tide, but the idea that MSNBC is like Fox News is the kind of lazy thinking that he should be above.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association