Jeff Zucker Interview…

Newsweek’s Johnnie L. Roberts interviews Jeff Zucker. I’m forced to comment inline on the answer below…

For the eight years of the Bush administration, Fox News was accused of right-wing bias. Now MSNBC has a reputation for leaning left, largely because of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. Are you concerned about the bias rap? Might the perception spill over onto and damage the NBC News brand?

First, there is absolutely no evidence, and probably evidence to the contrary, that it’s had any adverse impact on NBC News.

Then why was there a near revolt in the Washington Bureau over the Matthews/Olbermann pairing as chronicled in Felix Gillette’s Observer piece on the Matthews/Olbermann fiasco?

As the dinner got under way, Mr. Immelt praised the D.C. staffers for pulling together through the crisis. Later, according to sources at the network, he also praised the work of their colleagues at the sibling network, MSNBC. When the floor eventually opened up for questions, according to sources, Andrea Mitchell, the veteran political correspondent and wife of Alan Greenspan, noted on behalf of her colleagues that there was some ongoing uneasiness about having Keith Olbermann—MSNBC’s liberal pundit and caustic anchor of their hit show Countdown—co-anchoring (along with Hardball’s Chris Matthews) the network’s coverage on big political nights. What happened to the traditional firewall between news and opinion? There were risks involved with blurring the distinction.

Back to Zucker’s answer…

“NBC Nightly News,” “Today” show and “Meet the Press” all now enjoy wider margins of victory over their competition than they did 18 months ago before that perception was widely held. Secondly, what do I think about that perception of MSNBC? It’s driven by a couple of programs in primetime that have a very strong point of view, a real voice and a real audience. The rest of MSNBC programming is what it has always been—traditional reporting.

You mean like David Shuster blowing up during MSNBC dayside, the time period that Zucker has said is for “traditional reporting”?

More of Zucker’s answer…

I believe that the audience that comes to MSNBC and NBC is fully capable of distinguishing between the two.

This was what Steve Capus would say about justifying the Olbermann/Matthews pairing…that the public is capable of distinguishing between the two hats they wear…anchor and talking head. That didn’t work out, did it?

Look, I’m not arguing against MSNBC going left. I am arguing against (and have been arguing from the beginning against) MSNBC knocking down that supposed “firewall” Zucker talked about, first by letting Matthews and Olbermann (and I would throw in Maddow) handle political coverage like happened last year (and then getting cold feet when the tide turned internally only to bring it back again for the inauguration of Barack Obama), and putting more shoot from the hip edginess into MSNBC Dayside. Primetime can stay as left as it wants. Dayside needs to be neutral. Right now it is not. And it will continue to be as long as ideological talking heads keep headlining special coverage (Matthews, Olbermann, Maddow) or anchor on Dayside (Shuster). And no amount of spinning by Jeff Zucker or Steve Capus or Phil Griffin is going to sway the public or the MSM on this. It will continue to eat away at NBC News like a cancer until someone gets some sense and permanently restores the firewall.

I could say more about Zucker’s interview, which sort of makes must read status. But I think I hit the main point that needed hitting…


6 Responses to “Jeff Zucker Interview…”

  1. Spud, you’re just a neocon warmonger who can’t stand the truth!!

  2. The Right: MSDNC.
    The Left: MSNBC rocks!
    Me: I like MSNBC a lot and totally agree with Spud.

  3. Right now, our new President is giving a very important speech to the Democratic House members and it’s being carried live on FOX, while those right wing hacks over at MSNBC are talking about the plane crash of 2 weeks ago!!

    Where’s the Hope & Change?? I’m tired of those Bush-loving hypocrites on MSRNC.

  4. BR, he’s still talking while those right-wing hacks at MSNBC talk about DICK CHENEY! How’s THAT for Opposite World?

  5. I’m tired of Olbermann spewing his conservative propaganda. Thank God FNC gives the real news with the left-wing slant that us adults like.

    It’s time to be patriotic and support this stimulus bill.

  6. It’s time for the President, the House and the Senate to get their s… together and come up with something that prevents the Second Great Depression. And I don’t want to hear Mission Accomplished from ANYBODY until something works.

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