The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple has MSNBC President Phil Griffin doing something he shouldn’t be doing…
Now Griffin is feeling vindicated. New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman yesterday reported that Fox producers who wish to place Karl Rove or Dick Morris on-air must get “permission” to put them on.
Aha, says Griffin. “If you’re looking for evidence that the Pew study is inaccurate, take a look at what just happened. MSNBC does have a point of view but was honest and accurate about what was going on with the election. Fox was dishonest and misleading in their analysis and now benching two of their key contributors,” notes Griffin.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong…
Rule #1 of Network President PR: Never, never dump on the other guy no matter how tempting it is or how right you feel you are. You should remain above such things and let your underlings take the shots. You never let it escalate to the Network President level. It makes everyone under you a target.
Rule #2 of Network President PR: Know what you are doing. Griffin just attacked FNC. In fact he didn’t just attack FNC, he labeled very specific inflammatory charges at the network and its news division. He does realize that FNC lives for this kind of broadside and will respond in kind with even greater firepower, especially since it’s coming from the Network President (See Rule #1).
Rule #3 of Network President PR: Don’t make yourself look foolish. If you feel you must go on a suicide mission and attack FNC you better be certain your case is rock solid and can’t be interpreted in other ways. Such is not the case here. Pew says one thing, Griffin takes what Pew wrote and argues about something that is tangential at best to the Pew report.
The central point of the Pew report analyzed news coverage of the campaigns by story count. Griffin is arguing over the egregiousness of the content of the coverage. That’s like two Major League Baseball players both testing positive for steroids and then the two argue over which steroid was worse in order to make themselves look better. In the end they both still tested positive for steroids and that’s all that matters.
Here’s the central Pew point, a point which Griffin isn’t arguing here…
[W]hen Romney was receiving negative coverage in the final week from the rest of the press, Fox was different; 42% of its segments about him were positive while only 11% were negative. This was more positive than the earlier part of October when 34% of Fox News’ Romney coverage was positive and 9% negative.
MSNBC moved in the other direction. MSNBC’s coverage of Romney during the final week (68% negative with no positive stories in the sample), was far more negative than the overall press, and even more negative than it had been during October 1 to 28 when 5% was positive and 57% was negative.
Griffin can’t argue against that point because it’s a numerical statistic. So he changes the conversation to how egregious the violation is.
Update: Oh I almost forgot…
Rule #4 of Network President PR: Timing is everything. Coming out with an attack at FNC and a revisiting of the Pew study two days after most of your primetime hosts were seen at a White House event for Progressives kind of undermines your argument to some extent.