Glenn Beck Returns To Cable News – On MSNBC? (Sort Of)

The ratings troubles on MSNBC have been the subject of much hand-wringing by executives at the cable network and their corporate bosses at Comcast/NBCUniversal. In an attempt to reverse the downtrend MSNBC canceled Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid, moving anchor Thomas Roberts into those time slots. That left an opening in Roberts’ old program, “Way Too Early,” that precedes “Morning Joe.” It appears that Joe Scarborough has now assumed control of his lead-in which is leaning more toward his conservative brand of politics. And that is evident by the person currently anchoring the early show.

MSNBC Amy Holmes Glenn Beck

That’s right – Amy Holmes has been at the helm of Way Too early all this week. For those unfamiliar with her, she is host of a program called “The Hot List” that is part of Glenn Beck’s Internet media venture TheBlaze. Prior to that she was a speechwriter for Bill Frist, a former senator from Tennessee and Republican majority leader.

Giving Holmes this high profile spot as a “news” program anchor is a disturbing step toward the sort of wingnut media that even Fox News couldn’t handle when they fired Beck. Now Beck’s fringe media has a foothold on what has been regarded as the “liberal” cable news network. It’s a foreboding development and one that creates suspicion as to where the new management team at NBC plans on taking the cable net.

One thing that this should put an end to is the talk that MSNBC is the liberal answer to Fox News. That has never been true, mainly because, while MSNBC was generally more progressive, it remained fact-based as opposed to the blatant lying that is the hallmark of Fox. More to the point, Fox News would never give a three hour block of airtime to a liberal ex-congressman, but Scarborough not only has that, but is also featured on NBC’s Meet the Press. Just imagine if Fox & Friends was hosted by Anthony Weiner. [Note: Scarborough also left office amid controversy over the death of intern Lori Klausutis]

Putting Holmes in the anchor chair on MSNBC is the equivalent to replacing Sean Hannity with Rachel Maddow. Fox would never consider such a thing. Even though Fox pretends to be fair and balanced, their schedule is rife with right-wingers and former GOP operatives. There are even four candidates for the Republican primary for president who are former Fox News employees (Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Rick Santorum, and Ben Carson). And now Glenn Beck’s voice is being heard daily on MSNBC to balance that right-wing cable news bias with some crackpot, conservative, evangelist bias. If MSNBC thinks that this is going to help their ratings, they are sorely mistaken.

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Rachel Maddow: Fox News Has A Bill O’Reilly Problem (Or Do They?)

Last night Rachel Maddow reported on the downward spiral of Bill O’Reilly’s already shaky credibility. Since reports last month about his false statements placing him “in a war zone…in the Falklands,” the cascade of additional lies has accelerated exponentially. Just keeping up with the new revelations is difficult, so News Corpse provided this handy summary:

Bill O'Reilly

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On her program Maddow ran through a partial list of the lies exposed so far, including the Falklands affair, the misrepresentations of his experiences in Northern Ireland and El Salvador, and his blatantly dishonest account of being present when a figure associated with the Kennedy assassination committed suicide. She spent a fair amount of time on the latter, with audio tapes of O’Reilly debunking himself. But a highlight of her report was the response she got after requesting a statement from Fox News:

“We asked them for comment of the substance of the allegations. What they sent us was a lot of information about how great Bill O’Reilly’s ratings are.”

That’s a fairly typical response from the Fox News PR department that seems to think that having a large number of easily duped viewers is evidence of truthful reporting. To the contrary, it’s the fact that there are so many gullible Fox watchers that makes lying to them so easy. What Fox defenders fail to understand is that volume does not equal quality. McDonald’s is the number restaurant in America, but few people would say that it has the best food.

Maddow’s commentary on O’Reilly was couched in a dialogue that addressed what happens “when cable news goes wobbly.” She related the O’Reilly situation to other incidents of the sort of error-prone reporting that occurs when being first is more important than being right. However, O’Reilly has had years to shape his storytelling and, if necessary, correct the record, but instead has repeated the falsehoods with every new opportunity. This makes it clear that his intent all along has been to deceive. And that’s a problem for both him and the network he represents. As Maddow said…

“The Fox News channel has a problem now. They have a problem with the face of their network, their flagship anchor, having all of this stuff trailing him around with no plausible explanation for what exactly he said and did and why they haven’t tried at least to fix it. The network has also not apologized or retracted any of Mr. O’Reilly’s overt threats to other reporters who have just covered this story about the real credibility they have got with him right now.”

Indeed, O’Reilly has the highest rated program on Fox News. He is the first person most people would think of if asked to name a Fox News personality. And he is a pathological liar. However, the rational observation that that would be problematic for Fox may not be entirely accurate. After all, Fox News has made its reputation by lying incessantly in support of their right-wing political agenda. They slander liberals and exalt conservatives. They ridicule progressive policies and push those that advance the interests of the conservative elite. So the question of whether or not O’Reilly hurts Fox needs further analysis.

There is no shortage of examples of Fox’s brazen dishonesty and disregard for journalistic ethics. Their mangling of the truth was baked into their pseudo-news recipe from the day they debuted. So why would it trouble them if their featured anchor is a proven prevaricator? In fact, O’Reilly is the perfect representative of the Fox brand. He’s the biggest liar on the network of lies. If the bulk of your programming is littered with partisan bullcrap, than Bill O’Reilly isn’t a problem at all. He’s your poster boy.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Uh-Oh: Bill O’Reilly Equates Cliven Bundy With Chris Christie

The pathetic conservative media stampede in support of the deadbeat welfare rancher, Cliven Bundy, has produced a tsunami of crocodile tears and back-peddling by anxious right-wingers who prematurely hitched themselves to Bundy’s racist wagon. Despite the fact that many Republicans expressed almost identical views way before Bundy came on the scene, they now are rushing to distance themselves from the would-be hero that they created.

Bill O'Reilly

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Not surprisingly, Bill O’Reilly is leading the retreat with another of his hackneyed “Talking Points Memo” segments. On Friday he began his program by attempting to downplay the extent to which Fox News lavished praise and valuable airtime on Bundy. He characterized the participation of Fox News as merely “a handful” of commentators who “rallied to Bundy’s side,” while declining to mention any names. However, some of the most prominent voices on the network, including Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Steve Doocy, Bret Baier, Eric Bolling, etc., played significant roles in pumping up the controversial story.

After providing absolution for the sins of Fox News, O’Reilly proceeded to condemn the rest of the media, presumably for not balancing their coverage of a tax-evading racist with more positive impressions. He focused on CNN’s Brian Stelter, whom O’Reilly called a “committed left-wing zealot.” Stelter’s offense was to correctly point out that Fox News had been caught in a unique dilemma wherein their pundits championed an unknown crackpot who wound up embarrassing them. Here is the soundbite that O’Reilly cherry-picked from Stelter’s remarks:

“I can’t think of any parallel to this case. I can’t think of MSNBC taking an equivalent story on the left and spending weeks covering it the way Fox News has.”

Well, that was all it took to fire up O’Reilly’s ire. He let loose with a biting, personal attack on Stelter:

“Unbelieveable. So Mr. Stelter, did you miss the months of coverage about New Jersey governor Chris Christie on MSNBC? Did you miss that? Are you that dense? That uninformed that you make an outrageous assertion that MSNBC would not overdo a story for ideological reasons?”

Where to begin? First of all, if O’Reilly is looking for a story that is equivalent to the Bundy saga, it’s interesting that he would choose Christie’s BridgeGate scandal. Is O’Reilly equating the New Jersey Governor to a lawless bigot who doesn’t recognize the United States as existing?

Secondly, O’Reilly seems to think that covering an old cattle rancher in Bunkerville, Nevada, who thinks he’s entitled to free grazing rights on property that he doesn’t own, is a national story on the same level as a state governor who may have unlawfully abused his office and who, at the time, was a leading candidate for the Republican nomination for president. Furthermore, none of MSNBC’s reporting on Christie has turned out to be wrong and/or embarrassing.

Finally, O’Reilly’s assertion that MSNBC’s coverage of Christie was overdone for ideological reasons is an admission of the same about Fox’s coverage of Bundy, since he is making the argument that they are equivalent. Even though he just spent three minutes denying that Fox overdid anything. Apparently, O’Reilly’s outrage is warping his capacity for logic. And since there is abundant evidence that Christie engaged in the behavior attributed to him, if any news organization is to be faulted, it is Fox for soft-peddling the story.

O’Reilly went on to criticize MSNBC for seeking to boost their ratings (which O’Reilly would never do), and to further disparage Stelter as being “far worse than some Fox News commentators sympathizing” with Bundy. To O’Reilly, not being able to recall a story similar to Bundy’s is far worse than turning a despicable desert hick into a hero. Then O’Reilly closed by saying that “You throw away any legitimacy when you jump to conclusions.” That would seem to be a direct assault on his colleague Sean Hannity and the rest of the right-wing media who did just that.

So in one commentary, O’Reilly insulted his fellow Fox News anchor(s) While equating Gov. Christie with a racist, anti-American freeloader. That’s a pretty productive accomplishment for a night’s work. I can’t wait to hear what Hannity and Christie have to say about it. However, it was thoughtful of O’Reilly to candidly admit that “there are many charlatans peddling garbage that hurts people.” Thanks for the warning, Billo, but we’ve known about you for some time.

Rachel Maddow Beats Fox News – Again

For the second time this year, Rachel Maddow pulled off a weekly ratings win against Fox News in the critical 25-54 demographic that advertisers prefer.

maddow-3x

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MSNBC has been enjoying a bit of boost with daily breaking coverage of Chris Christie’s BridgeGate scandal. And thanks to Christie’s determination to impede the investigation the story just keeps getting prolonged which, of course, provides more opportunities for MSNBC to rake in the ratings.

Rachel Maddow is one of the prime beneficiaries of this situation. She was the first cable newsie to report on Christie’s bullying tactics and she has consistently broken new developments. As result she is seeing her ratings spike significantly.

Megyn KellyMaking this even more significant is the fact that Maddow is beating Megyn Kelly, who was promoted to her prime time slot specifically to try to capture more of the younger audience that Maddow is drawing. For her to have another weekly win so soon may be a warning flag that Kelly isn’t appealing to the audience that Fox intended. In fact, Kelly may just be exacerbating Fox’s older skewing, predominantly male audience who tune in for the titillation that Fox deliberately exploits.

In addition to Maddow’s numbers, Chris Matthews has also been bumped up. He beat his Fox competition, Greta Van Susteren, for the week as well. It is clear that having substantive reporting that viewers find valuable is the most effective way of building an audience. And MSNBC should strive to more of that. Or they could try the Fox model of just making shit up that feeds the prejudices of low-information viewers. That seems to work too.

MSNBC: Fire Phil Griffin And Rehire The Cheerios Tweeter

Remember way back about four days ago when Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, wet his britches over a tweet by someone at MSNBC that said that right-wingers would hate a new Cheerios ad that featured a biracial family?

The reaction from Priebus and the rest of the conservative throngs was to lash out at MSNBC and demand satisfaction for what they regarded as an insulting insinuation that there were racists in the ranks of the right. Priebus even threatened to boycott the cable network. Never mind that the tweet was thoroughly justified by the fact that right-wing racists actually did hate the very same biracial family when they appeared in a previous version of the ad. In fact, YouTube had to close off the comments on the video due to the volume of vulgar responses. That didn’t stop Priebus from throwing a tantrum and insisting on an apology.

In a classic demonstration of just how pusillanimous a corporate media weasel can be, the president of MSNBC, Phil Griffin, disgorged a sniveling apology and announced that the person responsible for the tweet had been terminated. It was an embarrassing supplication to conservative bullies whose outrage was transparently fake.

Coke - America

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Today we have additional evidence that Griffin’s knee-bending was uncalled-for. An ad for Coca-Cola aired yesterday during the Superbowl (video below) that featured Americans of various nationalities, races, religions, and cultures, all singing “America the Beautiful” in a rich tapestry of the languages that represent our country’s diversity. The response from conservatives to this heartwarming advertisement was predictably hostile. They lit up Twitter and Facebook with hateful messages vilifying Coke, as well as all Americans who do not fit the European, Caucasian mold favored by these bigots. Some of the more prominent feces-flingers were:

  • Todd Starnes of Fox News, who tweeted “Coca Cola is the official soft drink of illegals crossing the border.”
  • Tea Party ex-congressman Allen West, called the ad “a truly disturbing commercial,” because “the words went from English to languages I didn’t recognize.”
  • Michael Patrick Leahy of Breitbart News, who lamented that the “ad also prominently features a gay couple.” and somehow found a message in it that the U.S. “is no longer a nation ruled by the Constitution.”
  • Eric Bolling of Fox News, who objected to this use of a patriotic song saying “Don’t put it to ‘America the Beautiful.’ You used the wrong song.”
  • Armageddonist Glenn Beck, who inexplicably derived division from this ode to unity, saying “That’s all this is – to divide people.”

If anything exonerates the unjustly fired MSNBC tweeter, it is this parade of conservative xenophobes who validate the original message about right-wingers hating an ad that honors what really makes America beautiful: as the song says, brotherhood. And if anyone should be fired by MSNBC it’s Phil Griffin, the executive who didn’t have the balls to stand up for what’s right.

Republicans, Racists, And Boycotts, Oh My: And Why MSNBC Should Be Celebrating

When you preside over a political party that is the subject of frequent criticism for the racist rhetoric of its members and supporters, it might be a good idea to avoid bringing attention to that gaping wound of oozing hatred. But never let it be said that the leaders of the GOP are capable of recognizing a good idea.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, went berserk today over a tweet by some anonymous social media intern at MSNBC. The comment that so furiously enraged him was a reference to a commercial for Cheerios that features a biracial family (video below). It is a sequel of sorts to a similar ad that played last year. Here is the offending tweet:

Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go aww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ bi-racial family. http://t.co/SpB4rQDoAR

That was all it took to send Priebus into a frenzy over what he perceived as a deplorable insult directed at innocent right-wingers. His response was to announce that he would order a boycott of MSNBC unless its president, Phil Griffin, made a personal and public apology. He sent letters to Griffin as well as an open letter to “all Republican elected officials, strategists, surrogates, and pundits,” that said that he was “banning all RNC staff from appearing on, associating with, or booking any RNC surrogates on MSNBC,” and asking anyone affiliated with the GOP to join the embargo.

Fox Nation - Reince Priebus

And of course Fox Nation made this their top story.
Read Fox Nation vs. Reality for more tales from the loony side.

First of all, how would anyone know that a boycott had been initiated by the GOP against MSNBC? Most Republicans already refuse to go on the network simply because they know they will be challenged when they lie, unlike the friendly reception they get at Fox. But for the RNC chair to feign outrage over such a trivial tweet defies reason. The message conveyed by the tweet was simply that this heart-warming advertisement was likely to irk many conservatives whose intolerance for diversity is well documented. And where would the tweeter get an idea like that? Perhaps from the response that followed the release of the first Cheerios ad with the same biracial family. As reported at the time…

“A new Cheerios commercial that included an interracial family drew so many racially motivated hate comments on YouTube that the video-sharing website shut down the commercial’s comment section. […] some of the comments made reference to Nazis, ‘troglodytes’ and ‘racial genocide.'”

With that historical perspective, why would anyone doubt that the same right-wingers who spewed such vile hatred at the ad’s charming family last year, would react any differently today? Conservatives who are offended by the tweet ought to look at their own confederates to understand why everyone else regards them as hardened bigots who would hate the Cheerios ad. It isn’t MSNBC’s fault that conservatives openly express themselves in such a thoroughly reprehensible manner. However, the behavior of the rightists when this ad’s first installment was aired justifies the sentiment in the tweet. For some additional evidence of the unbridled bigotry on the right, have a look at…

The notion that MSNBC would be a target of a boycott simply because they recognized the bigotry that is inbred into much of the American conservative movement is especially ironic when you consider that Fox News, the mouthpiece of the rightist agenda in the media, is so brazenly racist. It’s a network that regularly demonizes minorities as criminals or moochers. What’s more, Fox feverishly advocates public policies that are detrimental to minorities, such as voter suppression laws and slashing benefits for low income workers. If any news outlet should be boycotted for insulting broad swaths of the American public it should be Fox

Which brings us to the subject of hypocrisy by the infuriated right. There actually have been efforts to embargo Fox News and persuade Democrats to avoid appearing on the network. During the Democratic primaries in 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus successfully shut down a Nevada debate that was to be broadcast on Fox. The response by Republicans was that the Democrats were either misguided or cowards, and would be afraid to face our enemies if they couldn’t face Fox. Fox anchor Chris Wallace said that “the Democrats are damn fools [for] not coming on Fox News.” Do these criticisms now apply to the boycotters of MSNBC?

This isn’t even the first time that Priebus has floated the boycott balloon. Just last year he sent similar threatening letters to NBC and CNN because they had plans to produce films about Hillary Clinton. However, he didn’t make the same threat to Fox, who also had Hillary projects in the pipeline. It seems that Priebus is just itching for a boycott, unless the offender is his PR department (aka Fox News).

The pitiful part of this story is that MSNBC has already caved in to the demand for an apology. Phil Griffin issued a statement calling the tweet “outrageous and unacceptable,” which it certainly was not. Even worse, he said that he had “dismissed the person responsible.” That is a monumental injustice and overreaction. This merely proves that the network that conservatives like to demean as unfailingly liberal is just a facade that will collapse at the slightest whiff of controversy. It’s why MSNBC issues apologies every other week and fires people for little reason.

Fox News, on the other hand, is far worse when it comes to offending liberals and Democrats, but they will never apologize, nor do they correct their many “errors” of fact. But if MSNBC keeps bowing down to competitors who seek its destruction, they will remain a perennial loser and shed any credibility they hope to maintain. This silly boycott threat should be cause for celebration by MSNBC. It serves as an opportunity to remind people of why Republicans are correctly perceived to be racist. It relieves them of the burden of making excuses for why the GOP is not represented on the channel. And it allows them to focus on expanding their audience among the key demographics that are most likely to tune in.

What this all comes down to is that Priebus is throwing a tantrum to attract attention and donations. The tweet that started the whole thing was provocative, but perfectly justified. But that doesn’t stop the disingenuous onslaught of phony rage that turns into a ludicrous threat that no one will notice should it be carried out. We are witnessing a drama that is more painfully shallow than the typical reality TV tripe that consumes way too many hours of broadcast time. And, sadly, “Keeping Up With The Republicans” has even less reality in it than you’ll find over at the Kardashians place.

[Update: 1/31/2014] Fox News is cashing in on this controversy. So far they have featured it on The Five, Fox & Friends, and the Kelly File. Greg Gutfeld of The Five injected the mandatory Nazi reference by calling MSNBC a “one-stop shop for master-race-baiting.” And Megyn Kelly asserted that liberals have a “kneejerk instinct to accuse conservatives of racism.” In her segment that featured uber-rightist flame-thrower Brent Bozell, she went on to say…

“They [liberals] saw this ad and said, ‘Oh the conservatives will hate it because it’s a black man and a white woman together in a family.’

Wrong Megyn. They said “Oh the conservatives will hate it because that’s exactly the response they had to it when the first version of it came out last year.” What better evidence can you have of how someone will respond to something than their own prior response?

And this morning Fox’s media analyst, Howard Kurtz, called the MSNBC tweet “an outrageous and really disgusting message,” before excreting this BS:

“You do have to wonder about the culture there, and whether there is such a loathing for conservatives that things that are so clearly way, way, way over the line are somehow deemed acceptable.”

Once again I have to say ARE YOU FRIGGIN’ KIDDING ME? The outpouring of loathing by Fox of liberals (and African-Americans, and Latinos, and gays, and women, and the poor) is a daily – even hourly – occurrence. For Kurtz to say that with a straight face is proof of his total devotion to the dishonest promulgation of Fox’s propaganda, hate, and commitment to the corporatocracy they were invented to defend.

So What’s The Big Story This Week On CNN And Fox News?

Both CNN and Fox News have Sunday morning programs that analyze the media. On CNN it’s Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter. On Fox News It’s MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz. This morning both programs chose to lead off their broadcasts with the same story that essentially takes MSNBC to task for doing respectable journalism.

CNN, Fox News Go After MSNBC

MSNBC has been at the forefront of the Chris Christie Bridge-Gate scandal from its inception. They broke the story on television with the help of the local Bergen Record newspaper in New Jersey. Since then they have scored some significant scoops that have rattled the Christie regime. One example of that occurred last week when Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki that the Christie administration held Sandy relief funds hostage to force her to support a real estate project that Christie favored. Not surprisingly, Christie retaliated by dispatching his spokesman to swing back at the messenger:

Christie spokesman Colin Reed: MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him, even taking the unprecedented step of producing and airing a nearly three-minute attack ad against him this week.

Notice that nowhere in that statement did Reed dispute the actual content of MSNBC’s reporting. It was just a self-serving attack on the network’s liberal reputation. The example he offered of an “unprecedented” three-minute attack ad (video below) was really just a thirty second mock video demonstrating how Christie’s opponents could use the scandal against him should he run for president in 2016. And it wasn’t unprecedented either, as Fox News actually did produce a four minute anti-Obama ad prior to the 2012 election that they deleted after it had become an embarrassment.

In a week that included a Supreme Court ruling against Network Neutrality, two speeches by President Obama, and a major book release about Fox News CEO Roger Ailes (The Loudest Voice In The Room), both CNN and Fox led off their weekly media programs with stories about MSNBC’s coverage of Christie. CNN had an on-screen graphic with the pressing question, is “MSNBC Attacking Chris Christie?” While Fox went for the more macho “Christie Declares War On MSNBC.” Of course, everything on Fox News is war (Christmas, class, liberty, capitalism, etc.). Fox also placed Christie’s war with MSNBC at the top of their lie-riddled Fox Nation website. [See the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality for proof of Fox Nation’s catalog of lies]

There was nothing in either program that refuted the factual accuracy of MSNBC’s coverage, but the tone was nonetheless disparaging. The real question, however, is why did they both put this story at the front of their broadcasts. Was it really more important than the other media news of the week? Or were they simply jealous that they didn’t get these scoops themselves? It may be significant that MSNBC had a rare Nielsen ratings victory for the week that featured the Bridge-Gate reporting. Could that have been what drove CNN and Fox to criticize it? Either way it makes both networks look awfully petty for attacking a rival for doing their job.

Lawrence O’Donnell’s fake Christie ad:

Christie’s Bridge-Gate Scandal Boosts Rachel Maddow To Ratings Victory Over Fox News

Rachel Maddow

The dominance of Fox News in the Nielsen ratings for cable networks has not been seriously challenged for most of the past several years. There have been periods that looked promising for the competition, particularly the months between the Democratic National Convention and the presidential election in 2012. During that time MSNBC was beating Fox on a regular basis as President Obama was doing the same to Mitt Romney. That trend was still in effect as late as January of 2013 when Fox reported steep declines in the key 25-54 demographic, while MSNBC shot upward.

Fox-MSNBC Ratings

However, that state of affairs did not hold as the nation settled into a new year with the excitement of electioneering behind them. There would be little drama in the ratings race for the next few months. Eventually, Fox would enjoy a rebound as they ramped up their coverage of various scandals that they had been carefully crafting with their Republican allies. But even then they were suffering losses of the younger viewers that advertisers favor.

Last week, however, saw an unexpected bounce for MSNBC, and particularly Rachel Maddow. Her ratings in the demo thrust her into the number one spot for the whole week, ahead of Fox’s newly minted prime time star Megyn Kelly. Chris Matthews also benefited by tying the week with Greta Van Susteren, and Lawrence O’Donnell scored clean victories over Sean Hannity on a couple of days. This turnaround was surprising during a post-holiday lull, but there is a possible reason for it.

Maddow and her colleagues may have Chris Christie to thank for their ratings success. Their rising fortunes began at the same time that Maddow broke the story of the George Washington Bridge tantrum thrown by the Christie camp as political payback to unsupportive Democrats.

Let’s face it…Scandals have the same power to drive ratings in political news as they do in soap operas. The last ratings spike that Maddow enjoyed was when a video of Romney appeared showing him casting aside 47% of the American electorate as lazy moochers. And, as mentioned above, Fox exploited their own scandal sheet last may to recover from a long slump.

What this tells us is that, in order for MSNBC to consistently rise above Fox, they need to have as effective a scandal factory as Fox has. That’s a tall order because Fox has big head start in manufacturing fake scandals and the phony outrage that accompanies them. And for a network like MSNBC that has yet to exhibit much of an aptitude for inventing controversies that don’t exist in reality, they have some catching up to do.

Of course, Republicans have been more than generous in producing scandals for themselves, as the Christie affair so clearly demonstrates. The problem is that the so-called liberal media has not been especially good at taking advantage of the opportunities that were laid in their lap. But if MSNBC or CNN want to seriously challenge Fox’s ratings dominance, they had better show some improvement in that area in the future.

Does Fox News Have A Culture That Encourages Personal Attacks?

Much of the cable News circus was preoccupied this weekend with remarks made by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry about Mitt Romney’s family. It was a relatively trivial incident that sought to highlight the blinding whiteness of the Romney clan and, by extension, the Republican Party for which he was was briefly the de facto head. Harris-Perry apologized for the comments and her apology was accepted by Romney and it seemed as if life on Earth would endure.

Enter Howard Kurtz, the media analyst for Fox News. On Friday he published an op-ed, which was followed by a segment on his Sunday Fox News program MediaBuzz, wherein he proposed his theory that MSNBC suffers from a “culture in which harsh personal attacks are encouraged, or at least tolerated.” His evidence for this was a series of recent controversies involving personalities at MSNBC, which he claimed not to be biased against.

Kurtz: I’m not designing this to bash MSNBC, but you had Martin Bashir with the vile attack on Sarah Palin, apologizing and then losing his job. You had Alec Baldwin losing his job at MSNBC over an alleged anti-gay slur hurled at a photographer. Now Melissa Harris-Perry. Is there something in the culture there that tolerates this unacceptable language?

One has to wonder why, if Kurtz did not intend to bash MSNBC, did he focus solely on “unacceptable language” by people on MSNBC. It’s not as if he didn’t have plenty of examples of Fox News anchors and pundits who did much the same thing. Just within the past week Fox’s Mike Huckabee compared doctors at a hospital, that had been caring for a girl who was pronounced brain dead, to the Nazi regime that was responsible for the murder of millions. Fox also hosted a former CIA agent who recently wrote an article that advocated the assassination of President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron. Neither of these commentaries entered into Kurtz’s examination of the culture of cable news. The only observation that Kurtz deemed notable was his severly skewed impression of how conservatives are viewed by liberals.

Kurtz: If there is a theme to these episodes, it is a view of Republicans and conservatives as so mean-spirited, hard-hearted and clueless that just about any rhetoric against them can be justified.

Thus we had the spectacle of Martin Bashir so reviling Sarah Palin that he not only called her a “dunce” and an “idiot” but prescribed for her an old slave treatment in which he said someone should defecate in her mouth.

Oh my. Bashir called Palin a “dunce” and an “idiot.” Apparently Kurtz has never seen Bill O’Reilly’s program where for years he has had a regular segment in which he called his liberal adversaries “pinheads.” Not that he needed a dedicated segment to disparage his foes. He was found by Indiana University to have called people derogatory names every 6.8 seconds. Recently O’Reilly even expressed his hostile intentions toward the Democratic Majority Leader of the senate, saying…

“Harry Reid, I think you’ll have to kidnap. Tie him to a tree up in Idaho somewhere, leave him there for a few weeks.”

Surely O’Reilly will insist that the was joking about kidnapping and torturing Sen. Reid, but the Harris-Perry segment was premised that it was all in humor. The same cannot be said for Glenn Beck’s declaration that Obama was a racist who hated white people. Neither Beck nor his superiors ever apologized for that. In fact, Rupert Murdoch agreed with it. Perhaps the most glaring example of repulsive rhetoric was that displayed by Fox News contributor Erick Erickson upon the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter when Erickson said

“The nation loses the only goat fucking child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court in David Souter’s retirement.”

Fox News

Let’s not forget the Fox News community website, Fox Nation. It’s culture is so riddled with hostility that they won’t even refer to some people by their actual names. The Fox Nationalists refer to Sen. Al Franken as Stuart Smalley, after a character he played on Saturday Night Live twenty years ago. They also call comedian Bill Maher “Pig” Maher for reasons no one seems to know. [For more on Fox Nation, read Fox Nation vs. Reality, a book that documents the website’s steady stream of lies]

There are, however, some notable differences between the incidents of verbal abuse as articulated by MSNBC and Fox News. At MSNBC the lapses in judgment were followed by apologies and sometimes suspensions or terminations. The lapses at Fox were either celebrated or ignored by management and often repeated with more emphasis by the abuser.

So Howard Kurtz has the gall to wonder if there is culture of harsh personal attacks at MSNBC where such incidents are routinely punished, but he has no concerns about his own network where they are a point of pride. That’s a distinct difference that would enter into the analysis of an honest media critic. Luckily, Kurtz works for Fox so he doesn’t have to worry about being honest.

Fox Nation Posts Radio Rant Against MSNBC That Also Attacks Fox News

One of the most notoriously hyperactive conservative radio shoutcasters is Mark Levin. Some of his on-air convulsions boil over into such bombastic rage that he seems close to having a cerebral aneurysm. He is filled to the brim with contempt for those with whom he disagrees, and that’s a long list.

Fox Nation

This morning his target was MSNBC (again) and the roster of hosts whom he regards as vile character assassins. But while lashing out in what was pure projection, Levin also snared Fox News in his net of wild invective. The subject of his attack was what he considered to be an affront to his Wingnut Queen, Sarah Palin. So he let loose…

“We’re getting way too comfortable with these character assassination efforts by the media, by the left, by the sycophants and their operatives against certain individuals in this country. Did the Republican National Committee speak up for Sarah Palin? No. Did Karl Rove go on Fox to defend one of his colleague? No. Did all of those folks on Fox, with a few exceptions, stand up for her? No.”

In defending Palin’s alleged honor, Levin orchestrated something short of a surgical strike that left his pals at Fox News bleeding in the rubble. This isn’t the first time either. Levin has frequently attacked Fox News and its so-called personalities. He has blasted Rove as “sleazy” and a “liar.” He has called Dana Perino a “jerk.” He hammered Bill O’Reilly as a “fraud.” And, remember, Levin is a frequent guest on the network he is lambasting.

However, what’s notable in today’s news is that the Fox News community website (and Fib Factory), Fox Nation, posted an audio clip of Levin that included his condemnation of Fox. Apparently Fox is so consumed with disseminating anything negative about their enemies that they were either unaware or indifferent to the negativity aimed at themselves. You could probably go on Fox and call the network a festering boil on the ass of television, so long as you also said something nasty about President Obama in the same sentence.

Just for fun, Levin also took a swing at Jon Stewart saying that “Stewart is quoted all over like he’s some kind of a news guy, some kind of an analyst. He’s a comedian, and he’s vile and repulsive and dimwitted. Nobody writes my stuff.” Like anyone would dare to take credit for the asinine swill that Levin pukes.