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Saturday, February 9, 2008

MSNBC Needs to Stop Sniping at Hillary Clinton

I'm a devoted Obama supporter. I voted for him in the super-primary in New York last Tuesday, and am convinced he would make the best next President. But I am also a student - and a professor - of the media, as well as someone who wants to see the Democratic party strong, and it is for those reasons that I think it's time to say enough is enough already about the shoddy way MSNBC is treating Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Presidency.

It's not just David Shuster's astonishingly tasteless and unacceptable remark about the Clinton campaign "pimping out" Cheslea to campaign for her mother. MSNBC has apologized for that remark and suspended Shuster. Cheslea's campaigning for her mother has been nothing but laudable and classy. One wonders if Shuster or anyone would have used that term had a son been campaigning for his mother or father.

But any news operation could be subject to the loose tongue of a reporter or commentator, and the problem at MSNBC regarding Hillary Clinton goes much deeper.

You can hear and see it just about every night on Chris Matthews' Hardball. For some reason, he refers to a lot of things that Hillary Clinton has been doing in this campaign as being done not by Hillary Clinton but by "the Clintons".

What's that? If Matthews wants to claim that Bill Clinton as well as Hillary had something to do with a specific action or strategy of Hillary's, let him say so. But the constant reference to Hillary Clinton as "the Clintons" undermines Hillary Clinton as an individual and is demeaning.

Keith Olbermann is no angel in his attitude towards Hillary Clinton, either. When Olbermann attacks Rush Limbaugh by constantly calling him a "comedian," we all laugh. Olbermann's tick-like verbal attacks and facial expressions are usually welcome when they are directed at Fox News. But they have no place in supposedly even-handed coverage of a Presidential campaign. And although Olbermann is not as out there against Hillary Clinton as is Matthews, his comments about her are all too often studded with sarcasm and derision.

Indeed, of the MSNBC nighttime regulars, only Dan Abrams has been consistently even-handed and non-ad-hominem.

It may well be that, by the time this election is over, MSNBC will have become the liberal equivalent of what Fox News has been for conservatives. That would be good news for CNN, but bad news for the American people, who could certainly benefit from three unbiased cable news networks - or, at least two.

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Anonymous said...

just want to say that's fine you like obama, I am a Republican and have to admit I like obama, but I am still a GOP, and you write about what shuster said and msnbc in general, chris matthews for one, but to you its not right what they are doing to hillary, enough is enough, but is it alright to say some of the most hateful, vicious things about Republicans?? even President Bush?? I know you all hate him, but some of the things they say are over the top, comparing Bush to nazis, hitler, and what he is doing is the same as the holocaust, is that ok?? see I think it is also awful what shuster said, but he says way worse things about GOP, and nothing is ever said about that, they never ask for apologies, they just let it go. who does hillary think she is writing a letter to giffin or whatever his name, and threatning to not participate in the debates, give me a break, welcome to the real world hillary, and you are so wrong, in the past they have been cheerleaders of the clintons, msnbc is totally a democrat network, as you may say FOX NEWS leans more GOP, cnn another democrat network, so please for you to tell msnbc enough is enough, she is a big girl chelsea, and hillary also. he should not have said it, but to threaten and go after them when we all know what she really wants , only positive coverage, all the attention to her, its another one of her crying moments without the tears, she is losing to obama and she is milking this for all she can, but its going to backfire on her because it makes her look once again as whining. I would not go after msnbc so much , they may finally fire back at hillary and all these women's libs that have tried to shut them up and finally be a non bias network, but I will not hold my breath, and I won't hold my breat for any apologies to any GOP or BUSH.

Paul Levinson said...

anon - actually, I talk in my post about Olberman's "tick-like" verbal attacks - that's hardly praise, right? :)

Furthermore, I think a news commentator being vicious about another network, about a sitting President, about the daughter of someone running for office, are three different things.

I'm actually not in favor of viciousness in any arena. (And I think any comparison of Bush to the Nazis is outrageous and wrong, and I don't like Olbermann one bit when he does that.) But vicious attacks certainly have much more place directed against a rival network, or even against a President who has done disastrous things, then against Cheslea Clinton - or even Hillary, who has yet to prove herself as President, one way or another.

Anonymous said...

I am a Hillary supporter and I have decided to completely stop watching MSNBC. I can not stand their bias against Hillary. CNN was biased, but they improved (not completely) after the famous SNL skit. MSNBC has not changed a bit. I have completely given up on MSNBC. Hillary will win and MSNBC will lose.