February 21, 2015

I've been mulling over this reported MSNBC decision to "move away from left-wing TV" for two days now and I still don't get it, mostly because you'd have to actually be left wing to move away from it.

MSNBC has some liberal people on it for sure, but it's hardly "left-wing TV." Cenk Uygur agrees with that, and offers MSNBC some advice.

UYGUR: More importantly, an MSNBC source told The Daily Beast "the goal is to move away from left-wing TV."

Well, I've got bad news for you. You were never left wing TV in the first place.

If you had done a truly progressive network you would be in much better shape, but instead you had Joe Scarborough on in the mornings. That's a former Republican congressman doing three hours of conservative talking points in the morning.

Second of all, you didn't do left wing. You did DNC talking points. You never criticized the Democratic party or the President.

And you know what that cost you? Credibility with the audience. If you were actually honest and said "This is the progressive stance," whether the Democratic party agrees with it or not, well then you would have had more of a following.

The idea that left wing TV doesn't work is ridiculous. It worked. On MSNBC. For years and years. Obviously, you're no longer doing it right.

Uygur goes on to point out that he has nearly 2 million subscribers watching him online, so it's not like there isn't a market for left wing TV -- though I would argue with his definition of "left wing." Still, his point is well-taken.

Knowing what I do about Joy Ann Reid, it was infuriating to watch them shove her into a format that doesn't show off her talent and a time slot that guaranteed no one on the West Coast would see her show. And then when I would go try to find clips from it, the ones I found were not representative of what I know Joy can do. They "milquetoasted" her.

Which is exactly what Cenk concludes too.

The final judgement on this move and on MSNBC is that it will be a disaster. You cannot go more bland, more milquetoast and try to copy CNN. That is a terrible idea.

Yes, it is, but it was entirely predictable. I sent that warning flag up before Comcast merged with NBC Universal way back in 2009:

MSNBC has been the one place where progressive political ideas are broadcast on cable, and even then, it’s been balanced with conservative shows like Morning Joe. Rachel Maddow is probably the best and freshest voice political reporting has right now. Her reports are passionate, present the progressive perspective while giving room for other points of view to be heard. Most importantly, she reports facts as facts, whether they support her point of view or not. Keith Olbermann adds the right mix of humor and biting commentary to the menu, giving progressive ideas one small corner of airspace to give traction to something other than the conservative line, which most often sings money, money, money. The echo chamber of mainstream media will be a closed circle where no ideas other than conservative ideas bounce out and back again.

So MSNBC is going to hope for success by becoming like those Democrats who ran in 2014. I expect about the same level of success for them too.

In the coming weeks, I'm going to spend some time hunting down progressive online media and sharing it here. After all, if it's good enough for the kids it ought to be good enough for us too, right?

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