MSNBC Isn’t Even Trying to be Honest Anymore

The irony of leaning forward with anti-gay bigot Janet Rios

The irony of leaning forward with anti-gay bigot Janet Rios


We’ve all heard the recent complaints leveled at MSNBC, that the network, which was never the liberal bastion conservatives claim it to be, that it’s moving away from left-wing TV, that it’s moving Rachel Maddow, that it vowed to keep the despicable and dishonest right-wing troll, Morning Joe, it was going to ditch its liberal hosts.

But it is worse even than that. As Media Matters showed the other day, MSNBC seems to be unaware, if not uncaring, that they are giving a platform to a hate group, the American Family Association. Surely they are not unaware – how could they be at this point? – Which can only mean that they do know, and are doing it anyway.

Media Matters observed that,

MSNBC hosted a spokeswoman from a notorious anti-gay hate group twice in one day to discuss controversial “religious freedom” legislation, failing to identify her as an extremist who has opposed the decriminalization of gay sex.

On April 1, American Family Association (AFA) spokeswoman Sandy Rios appeared twice on MSNBC during segments discussing a number of controversial “religious freedom” laws being debated in state legislatures.

It is no secret at this point, following the RNC’s highly visible and controversial trip to Israel at the AFA’s expense, that,

The AFA has been labeled an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its history of anti-gay extremism, including blaming gay men for the Holocaust and supporting the criminalization of homosexuality.

It was a big deal, that trip. People for the American Way (PFAW) even put out a big ad asking the RNC to cancel the trip. Surely, surely, somebody at MSNBC is aware of all this.

And Rios is one of the worst offenders. She is a notorious figure who has frequently received mention in these pages for her outrageous rhetoric. Yet MSNBC invited her to appear on NewsNation with Tamron Hall:

No mention was made of her extreme anti-gay views. While you can see Fox News doing this – they do it all the time – one would expect better from MSNBC.

The other example is far more depressing than Tamron Hall: Chris Matthews.

Matthews, who has frequently gone from being next to useless to being a near-Rachel Maddow, had Rios as a guest on Hardball with Chris Matthews, where, as Media Matters explains,

Matthews didn’t disclose Rios’ history of anti-gay work, instead asking her if she opposed same-sex marriage or gay rights (Rios denied opposing gay rights). Rios lamented alleged misinformation about RFRAs and blamed the media’s unwillingness to let conservatives defend the laws.

This on-air deception concluded with an effusive Matthews inviting Rios back:

RIOS: Gay advocates are winning because people are not hearing the other side. They don’t know about Barronelle Stutzman losing her home. They don’t know about the baking couple that’s lost their business.

MATTHEWS: Keep talking. Please come back. Please come back.

RIOS: Yeah, I’d love to do that.

As Media Matters points out, with “neither Hall nor Matthews identified Rios as a member of a known anti-gay hate group,” and with neither host providing their audience “with necessary context by documenting Rios’ history of extreme anti-gay comments,” do we have to worry now about Fox – er, I mean, MSNBC, opening its doors to another anti-gay group?

Lamentably, there is no mainstream liberal – that is to say, fact-based – news outlet. There has never been. Some networks are less biased than others, or more or less trustworthy, but none of them are left-leaning, despite MSNBC’s claim to “lean forward.”

We know that as of early last month, a poll was showing that MSNBC was no longer the favorite news network for liberals. We also know that there have been recent signs of journalistic integrity at CNN, for example, noticing that the GOP relies on the Religious Right (it took them three decades to notice so don’t hitch your horses to CNN yet).

Already, back in 2010, CNN was considered more trustworthy than Fox News, at least by viewers in a Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll. Pew Research Center showed us this was still true last year.

And we know that just this January, according to PolitiFact, “MSNBC and CNN have improved ever so slightly on PunditFact’s TV network scorecards, while Fox News has moved a touch in the opposite direction.”

At Fox and Fox News, 10 percent of the claims PunditFact has rated have been True, 11 percent Mostly True, 18 percent Half True, 21 percent Mostly False, 31 percent False and nine percent Pants on Fire.

That means about 60 percent of the claims checked have been rated Mostly False or worse.

No surprise there. Sadly, as Headly Westerfield pointed out last evening, Fox News is the most watched news network – Leonard Pitts Jr’s “lament for the closing of the American mind.”

So much for the “liberal media elite.” Some folks just prefer being lied to, as Pitts says.

And speaking of lies, “At MSNBC and NBC, 44 percent of claims have received a rating of Mostly False or worse.”

And it is at CNN that truth lives, with CNN having “the best record among the cable networks, as 80 percent of the claims rated are Half True or better.”

Sadly, as Pitts also points out, trustworthiness doesn’t translate into ratings. But they should. And by switching to CNN, missing plane obsessions and all (which is still better than giving free air time to bigots), we can make free-market principles work for us for a change.

MSNBC is no longer “all that” (if it ever was in more than hype) and viewers are long past the point where they can turn the channel to MSNBC and expect to trust that what they hear is true.

There are bright spots like Rachel Maddow, but on the whole, MSNBC has gone over to the dark side, and fact-loving Americans will have to learn to dig a little deeper to stay apprised of current events and not be deceived by their would-be corporate masters.

MSNBC has claimed to “lean forward” since October 2010. But they seem to have since become infected with that same curious conservative disease that portrays tyranny as freedom, as they move steadily backward instead.



Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen's Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.


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