Clearing the air on the Politico/MSNBC relationship (or lack thereof)

All day long there’s been talk about a Politico/MSNBC relationship. This talk all started because of a poorly thought out, selective memory riddled, a bridge too far piece in The Daily Caller by Jeff Poor. I’d hoped that someone would have come out and knocked Poor’s article down by now but nobody has so I guess I have to. I have no interest in whether Politico is or is not a liberal publication or not because it doesn’t concern cable news. I only care about Poor’s attempt to tie Politico to MSNBC.

The gist of Poor’s argument could be summarized thusly:

Politico = Liberal + MSNBC = Liberal + Politico staffers showing up on MSNBC frequently = Liberals in bed with one another.

To support his argument Poor spent one week (!) sampling MSNBC extensively (in one week?) and combined that with the fact that FNC hasn’t had Politico people on its air since May 2010. But then Poor undermines his entire thesis thusly…

Not exclusive to MSNBC

Despite the close ties to MSNBC, Politico reporters do appear on other cable channels. Politico’s Kenneth Vogel, for example, is a regular guest on Current TV’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” Politico national political reporters Alexander Burns and David Catanese, and Politico White House reporter Joe Williams, have also appeared on that effervescently left-wing cable program.

Other Politico reporters have appeared on CNN, especially in the weeks since Politico first reported sexual harassment allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

Hang on…MSNBC has, according to Poor, had Politico reporters on 24 times in a one week timeframe (which averages out to 3.1 Politico appearances per day) but it has also had its people appear on CNN and Current. Doesn’t sound like much of a Politico – MSNBC relationship to me. The fact that FNC hasn’t had Politico people on since May 2010 is an irrelevant point since that’s an FNC decision not a Politico one. And Poor’s FNC point isn’t helped any when on the same day Bill O’Reilly reaches out to…wait for it…Politico to talk about controversy surround his book. Oops.

And then as if sensing he hadn’t undermined himself enough Poor goes on to dig an even deeper hole…

The relationship between the two media outlets extends beyond merely inviting Politico’s reporters on MSNBC. On March 30, during an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated radio show, Politico editor-in-chief John Harris defended NBC News, MSNBC and “Hardball” host Chris Matthews against charges that the cable channel’s left-leaning hosts could unfairly influence his organization’s news coverage, particularly because Politico and MSNBC co-hosted a Republican presidential debate.

“Well, I just don’t accept the premise and I don’t accept your premise about Chris Matthews, who I admire,” Harris said. “In any event, Chris Matthews is not the moderator of this debate — Brian Williams, who is going to be bringing his journalistic reputation, his journalistic values to bear, just as I will be, Hugh, as the other moderator.”

Uh…what? Poor cites John Harris arguably knocking down the idea of any MSNBC taint at Politico in a convincing manner as evidence of MSNBC taint at Politico?

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

There is no cozy relationship between Politico and MSNBC except where the world of politics and political coverage is concerned. When it’s political, MSNBC wants political writers to discuss what’s going on be it someone from The National Journal, The New York Times, or Politico. Four years ago it wasn’t Politico that was seen a lot on MSNBC. In fact four years ago Politico was essentially blacklisted from MSNBC over a period of several months because CNN was co-sponsoring a debate with Politico and MSNBC didn’t want to give Politico people any face time as a result.

And if Politico did indeed want to crawl into bed with MSNBC it wouldn’t be sending its people over to Current or CNN. It would want to cement the relationship with some sort of content sharing agreement. That’s the way you construct a beneficial relationship. There’s no money in it for Politico to be spreading itself out if the goal is to forge an identity based on ideology. It’s completely counterproductive.

For NBC it’s much the same thing. If it wanted MSNBC to be in bed with Politico it wouldn’t be co-sponsoring a debate with Politico one month and then co-sponsoring a debate with The National Journal a few months later. No, all its debates would be co-sponsored with Politico. Highlighting rival publications in debates runs counter to what you do if your intended goal is to latch on hard to one only.

Poor is trying, with great difficulty, to explain a relationship in ideological terms that is far easier explained using basic cable news operational terms.

42 Responses to “Clearing the air on the Politico/MSNBC relationship (or lack thereof)”

  1. I see ABC News folks on FNC a lot including Diane Sawyer on THE FACTOR tonight. These conservative outlets are all in bed with each other.

  2. This madness will never end. It’s a point of fact on the right that conservative media is “fair”, and everything else is a liberal conspiracy against them. They’re crazy.

  3. Politico = Liberal + MSNBC = Liberal + Politico staffers showing up on MSNBC frequently = Liberals in bed with one another.

    That’s Glenn Beck logic in a nutshell. Just connecting everything with everything else.

  4. lonestar77 Says:

    ” It’s a point of fact on the right that conservative media is “fair”, and everything else is a liberal conspiracy against them.”

    No, it’s a point of fact that pretty much every outlet outside of FNC is biased to the left. We know much of FNC tilts right. The only reason FNC exists is because half the country grew tired of the non-stop left-wing agenda coming from the MSM.

    To argue that any of those outlets isn’t biased to the left is beyond silly.

  5. To argue that Politico as anything but a fine journalistic organization is ludicrous, and proves my point.

  6. I doubt you would be so generous to other websites such as the Wall Street Journal.

  7. To argue that Fox News as anything but a fine journalistic organization is ludicrous, and proves my point.

  8. ^This. yes.

  9. WSJ does news and opinion, why should I care? My only problem with FNC is the opinion presented as fact on news programs. And the fact that Fox & Friends is the dumbest show ever in the history of everything.

  10. I didn’t make a judgement on politico being a “fine journalistic organization”. They do some good work. But, that doesn’t mean that they don’t treat stories differently depending on the politics of those involved. The overwhelming majority of journalists are Democrats. That’s a fact. It comes across in their writings and their presentations. It’s no coincidence that conservatives complain about media bias and poll after poll shows that most journos are liberals.

  11. That’s insane. You can’t assume every journalist with a voting record puts it in their stories. The rightwing paranoia about this made up ‘problem’ is bizarre.

  12. In spite of the fact that debating the international definition of waterboarding is stupid (it’s torture, which in some cases, on some dirtbags, some people approve of), that was one of the lamest questions I’ve ever heard at a press conference.

  13. The overwhelming majority of journalists are Democrats. That’s a fact.

    So, I suspect you’ve taken a look at the voting record of every journalist, LS? Please do tell on how Jim VandeHei, David Ignatius, and Chris Cillizza (just to randomly name a few).

    If anybody were to even take your journalist voting logic at face value, how should we judge someone like Chris Matthews? Albeit, not a journalist, but he admitted to voting for George Bush in 2000, always attacked the Clinton’s throughout the 2000s, then all of a sudden fell in love with Barack Obama. That’s just one example.

  14. The phychological need to avoid cognitive dissonance forces us all to bring our thoughts and deeds into harmony. It may be subtle, but having voted for someone, we will be inclined to favor him.

  15. This is yet another made-up news item, put out by a right wing blog, that’s then gets discussed as a serious news story by other right wing blogs and Fox News. It then gets picked up by legitimate news organizations and media websites, like this one,as a debatable subject; even though it’s a totally fake story.

    Even if it wasn’t a fake news item why would it matter. The Weekly Standard writers appear on FNC almost exclusively yet we don’t think that’s a problem.

    It’s just more whining by the, desperate for attention, Daily Caller.

    Who cares.

  16. So we agree, Joe, that the question was/is evidence of bias?

  17. @ fritz

    Kinda like the O’Reilly-Lincoln-Fords Theater thing… but from the other side, right?

  18. True blue. Discussing Billo’s ‘book’ (and thus giving it publicity) in any context is a waist of air-time.

    The same goes for Beck’s, Newt’s and Huckabee’s ‘history’ projects. They’re all scams to fool niave fans into sending them money.

    The fact that they are lots of people willing to pay for these deceptive and revisionist productions says a lot about their buyers.

  19. “You can’t assume every journalist with a voting record puts it in their stories.”

    But you can assume everyone in JournoList puts it in their stories. The Left was CAUGHT RED HANDED consipiring to slant news coverage and yet deniers still claim otherwise.

  20. @ fritz, you misunderstand (purposely or not)

    There has been a big to-do about O’Reilly’s book, and whether or not it’s available at Ford’s Theater. The story was pushed by the some left-wing website, and then picked up by the louder voices (Olbermann, KOS, HuffPo, etc.) before it was fact checked. And now it turns out, that their claim is not exactly true… but attacking O’Reilly is just too juicy of an item to resist, truth or not.

    As for book sales… really? It’s a good thing Obama, Olbermann, Maddow, Matthews, Michael Moore, Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Carter, and on and on and on, have never written a book, made a movie, or tried to sell a product to a willing and interested audience.

    *rolls eyes*

    “The fact that they are lots of people willing to pay for these deceptive and revisionist productions says a lot about their buyers.”

    Indeed.

  21. “@ fritz, you misunderstand (purposely or not)”

    No I got it, but your point was silly. As Spud points out the DC piece had no bases in fact. It was just a not too bright MSNBC hit piece. If you disagree you can take it up with Spud it’s his argument.

    The Billo book was trashed by almost all historians as not factually accurate; as were the other ‘history’ projects I listed (I’m not sure about all of Newt’s publications). The story was carried by the left wing and mainstream media as humor as it should have been.

    The people you list don’t have the same track record as the ones I mentioned although I’m sure you will find an occasional factual error in some.

    Name me one that has been panned as factually inaccurate by almost all historians, who took the time to read them, like Billo’s Beck’s and Huckabee’s have?

  22. Oh, I have no problem with Spud’s analysis of the Politco piece. I’ve always known Politico to be a pretty good news source, so I’m not yet ready to accept them as being a left-wing mouth piece simply because they ran with the Cain story. Not yet, anyway.

    “Almost all historians?” Please prove that statement. According to O’Reilly’s program yesterday, the Ford’s Theater group said there were 4 errors, and 2 typos. That doesn’t strike me as that bad. I’m pretty sure my high school text book had more mistakes… and it was, a text book.

    Really? Olbermann doesn’t have the same track record? Gore doesn’t hasn’t been called out for getting big chunks of information wrong? Moore wasn’t exposed as a fraud (remember when he tried to say that the Cuban healthcare system was better, never mentioning that you’ll get shot in the head for disagreeing with the government)? Really?

    I guess you’re right about Obama, though. I mean, he only really writes books about himself (his favorite topic), so he should get most of that right. Or at least, nobody’s going to fact check it, because… well, you know… he’s “the one.”

  23. “O’Reilly’s program yesterday, the Ford’s Theater group said there were 4 errors, and 2 typos.”

    ^According to the park service it was two or three dozen, but who’s counting.

    Blue I’ll put your list of left wing authors Obama, Carter, Clinton, Gore etc. up against Billo, Beck, Huckabee and Newt (and you can toss in GWB as well) any day as it relates to factual accuracy.

  24. The Left was CAUGHT RED HANDED consipiring to slant news coverage and yet deniers still claim otherwise.

    No, they weren’t. That’s just what comes up in your delusional paranoia of “liberal media bias” which don’t exist in reality. “Journolist” was a listserv run by a liberal journalist (Ezra Klein) that brought together all the different liberal opinion (not straight news) journalists all across the country, and they discussed issues to write about in their articles and try to shape the narrative, just as any opinion writer would do.

    Then The Daily Caller comes up with this “shocking” revelation in the emails that show the liberal journalists trying to shape the message of the media during the 2008 election to slant more to the left, because the mainstream media would obsess over Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, and Obama’s birth certificate, all issues which were irrelevant to what the country is dealing with. That’s why these kind of questions were being asked during Democratic debates instead of liberally biased questions.

    So, even with all this so called liberal media conspiracy by “Journolist”, you’d think the Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers stories would go away. No, they were still talking about it all throughout the campaign and it was blown up into the main talking point against Obama, and still is by the likes of paranoid conservatives on Fox News and far-right blogs. So, if there is a “liberal media” conspiracy, it’s one of the most non-existent things ever created.

    Nice try, farris, but they weren’t busted for doing anything unethical or wrong. Try some facts next time.

  25. @ fritz

    What list of errors was that? Link?

    @ Prog

    What about Spenser Ackerman, who dictated that when asked about Obama’s past, Wright, Ayers, etc. to simply call everyone “racist?” That was his directive! Call them racist because it’s a distraction which “drives them crazy.”

    Is that unethical enough for you?

  26. What list of errors was that? Link?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/fords-theatre-historical-review-of-bill-oreillys-lincoln-book/2011/11/12/gIQAC604FN_story.html

    ^If it doesn’t work; just google it.

    “For you, Fritz…”

    ^I have no clue what this has to do with Billo’s book and really don’t care.

  27. I wonder if this isn’t round 2 of the Politico/daily Caller war.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1111/68416.html

    Interesting that MSNBC appears to be ignoring the fight.

  28. Why should MSNBC address a made-up fight some bozos on the right have conjured up to keep their endless persecution complex about the made-up “liberal media conspiracy” alive? It’s not a story just because some idiots on F&F and The Five says it is.

  29. @ Fritz

    Wasn’t that the same article which incorrectly claimed that the book wasn’t being sold at Ford’s Theater?

  30. If Politico is at war with Daily Caller, it’s doing it wrong. That article was so meticulously “fair and balanced” as to be almost a parody of trying to do such a thing.

  31. “Wasn’t that the same article which incorrectly claimed that the book wasn’t being sold at Ford’s Theater?”

    ^I don’t know.

  32. At the end of the article, it has the wrong information.

    So yes, it is.

    Hard for me to trust a “fact checker” who gets his facts wrong.

  33. “At the end of the article, it has the wrong information.

    So yes, it is.”

    If you know the answer why ask me?

    “Hard for me to trust a “fact checker” who gets his facts wrong.”

    Take it up with the Washington Post. It’s their article and I’m sure they would be pleased to hear your opinion.

  34. Not my opinion. The claim (and subsequent issued correction) was made by those far more connected than I.

    But this all goes back to the original comment. Someone says something wrong (in this case, WaPo), and it’s picked up by those who repeat that kind of stuff (Think Progress, Olbermann, HuffPo).

  35. Whether the book was sold at Ford’s Theatre or not has no bearing on the review or the many errors in the book. It’s apples and oranges as Herman Cain would say – unless- your argument is the errors are not errors; in which case your on your own.

  36. The point is really dependent on your point.

    If you believe that O’Reilly (and his publisher) made too many mistakes to be taken seriously based on that article, you have to explain the easy mistake in his article.

    The question becomes, why do you trust this writer, and excuse his mistake, and assume he didn’t make others? Why is his mistake forgivable, yet O’Reilly’s not?

  37. ^A comment definatly worthy of Herman Cain.

  38. Nine. Nine. NINE!

  39. Pardon? Was I unclear?

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    […]Clearing the air on the Politico/MSNBC relationship (or lack thereof) « Inside Cable News[…]…

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