WASHINGTON – The Obama network, aka MSNBC for those in an alternate universe, is annoying, because the American public has learned not to trust anyone because of our media picking sides. However, considering the prowess Fox News had achieved since its founding it’s clear something had to be done, so NBC did it.
In the election of 2012, MSNBC became absolutely indispensable, because CNN has no audience, and up against Fox News Channel’s cheerleading noise machine that Romney was going to win in a “landslide,” ordinary viewers had no place to go on cable to get a fact check.
Inside the NBC “Sunday Night Football” studio that MSNBC was borrowing for the night, the stage manager loudly called out, “Here we go.” Ms. Maddow softly repeated, “Here we go,” and reported the news to three million viewers.
When President Obama won Virginia and most of the other battleground states on Tuesday night, ensuring himself a second term as president, some at MSNBC felt as if they had won as well.
When I continued to press through the entire election season that it remained advantage Obama, even though I wasn’t cheering for anyone in the presidential race, people still weren’t convinced. When I weighed in that Obama would likely get a big win, citing 323 electoral votes as my best estimate, was I crazy? came the call.
If you weren’t watching MSNBC you likely didn’t know what was going on.
While monitoring Fox News Channel, especially after Benghazi, watching MSNBC and their continued fawning, non-critical coverage of Obama, no matter the subject, while ignoring Libya completely, it further reveals the rot at the center of cable that remains an issue. It’s troubling to me, because what we need in the media is unbiased coverage, not picking sides. Unfortunately, there’s no ratings in it, as CNN proves, though their real problem is their anchors.
The addition of Steve Schmidt was also important for MSNBC, as the man who coined the “wackadoodle” contingent who keeps robbing Republicans of potential Senate seats, even amid his wrong-headed view that voter suppression doesn’t exist as a plan by some of his party.
Joe Scarborough’s partisan roots seduced him into believing what the Romney campaign was saying might be true, because they Boston believed it. However, throughout the election he railed against the GOP primary circus and Mitt Romney’s extreme positions, while also learning some lessons of his own about women, abortion and the cost of sounding like an idiot on air.
Mark Halperin continued helping Romney, because access journalism drives him, as does a book he’s writing for next fall with John Heilemann, their 2012 version of “Game Change,” which has been teased all year.
But it was when Karl Rove imploded that MSNBC’s prowess was solidified for 2012. The humiliation of Rove on a network that lied to their viewers from O’Reilly to Hannity to “Fox and Friends” and everywhere in between, minus Shep Smith. “Fox Five” at least having Bob Beckel, though how anyone watches that show remains a mystery to me.
As the dust settles, MSNBC has earned a moment in the spotlight. Rachel Maddow the headliner that just kept pressing, with Ed Schultz the blue collar champion who during the Wisconsin fight had my husband cheering. Chris Matthews gaining new relevancy by how hard he charged at the right.
More from Stelter:
MSNBC, a unit of NBCUniversal, has a long way to go to overtake the Fox News Channel, a unit of News Corporation: on most nights this year, Fox had two million more viewers than MSNBC.
But the two channels, which skew toward an audience that is 55 or older, are on average separated by fewer than 300,000 viewers in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic that advertisers desire. On three nights in a row after the election last week, MSNBC — whose hosts reveled in Mr. Obama’s victory — had more viewers than Fox in that demographic.
“We’re closer to Fox than we’ve ever been,” said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, who has been trying to overtake Fox for years. “All of this is great for 2013, 2014 to keep building.”
Anyone who trusts Fox News Channel after their Benghazi coverage right before the election is daft. But after Karl Rove’s performance election night, if Roger Ailes doesn’t demand a rehabilitation from top to bottom he’ll further damage the Republican Party he markets.
Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and the politics of sex.