Media Bias and the Mess at MSNBC

If the Fox News Channel has the reputation as the “conservative” wing of the cable news outlets, then MSNBC has certainly become the known as the “liberal” one. No other personality on MSNBC personifies this reputation more than Keith Olbermann, one of MSNBC’s lead anchors covering the Democratic Convention. has a fascinating story in which it appears that Olbermann has gotten too big for his britches. According to, there have been at least two incidents at the DNC involving on-air spats between Olbermann and his colleagues, Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough. I could be wrong, but I suspect that some of the conflict is the result of bias and ego run amuck.

For my part, I loathe biased coverage be it from the left or the right. I still believe in a “just the facts ma’am” approach to reporting, with a clear distinction between news and commentary. Unfortunately, we don’t get much of that anymore, and that is why it is critical for Christians to exercise discernment in their consumption of news media.

For those who are interested, the videos of the two incidents are below. Otherwise, happy convention-watching!

Spat with Scarborough

Spat with Matthews

31 Responses to Media Bias and the Mess at MSNBC

  1. Cliff August 27, 2008 at 11:11 pm #

    I like Olbermann a lot better when he was on ESPN’s Sportscenter.

  2. kevin hash August 27, 2008 at 11:45 pm #

    I’ve watched MSNBC all week.

    As someone who is used to media bias, I am DUMBFOUNDED by how shameless the MSNBC coverage has become.

    If the DNC owned a network and it covered this covention, it wouldn’t be as partisan.

    I’ve even noticed that when Tom Brokaw gets a little time on the air, has goes out of his way to say something objective to try and salvage some shred of dignity for the network that he served for so many years.


  3. Paul August 28, 2008 at 8:33 am #

    I’ll admit at least this much:

    1) if I’m going to watch partisan hacks, I’d much rather watch partisan hacks that I agree with.

    2) Olbermann might be one of the more pompous jerks on TV, but MSNBC still has Scarborough, who seems to go out of his way to be unbiased, even though he’s a Republican.

    3) As long as there’s a Fox, there is a definite need for an MSNBC.

  4. Don August 28, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    My take is that EVERYONE has an agenda and hoping for no spin is not realistic. So one needs to assess what the agenda is of someone so one can tell where they are coming from. It is a worldview question and one’s worldview influences everything one sees and hears.

    A believer is to be changed to have more and more a Godly worldview.

  5. Daniel Davis August 28, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    perhaps as long as there is an MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, there is a need for Fox…

  6. volfan007 August 28, 2008 at 10:30 am #

    The need for Fox is due to there being an NBC, CBS, and ABC. They are all very liberally biased, and have been for years and years.

    A study was done a few years ago, and the only people more liberal than the College Profs were the news media people.

    Thankfully we have Fox and Rush.


  7. Paul August 28, 2008 at 12:00 pm #


    that study must have been done by some total morons.

    How many of the major news networks went live with the clip from McCain’s town hall meeting where he agreed with someone that we need to reinstitute the draft?

    None. I believe MSNBC was the only one.

    That should have been major news about the mindset of the loon that’ll probably be the next president of this country.

    Seriously, the persecution complex that some on the right hold dearly to is amazing.

  8. Mark Gibson August 28, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    Liberals don’t like the fact that Fox News gives equal time to conservatives.

  9. Paul August 28, 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    equal? How about ALL. Except for 10 minutes with Colmes, who is such a pansy that even Sean Hannity can make him look bad.

    That’s why I’m glad that there’s an MSNBC. But even then, MSNBC still has Tucker Carlson and Pat Buchanan on their payrolls, both very well schooled and tenacious conservatives, and both a miles away from the punching bag that Colmes serves to be on Fox.

  10. Paul August 28, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    re: the clips…

    1) Scarborough: where’s the flap? Scarborough says that McCain has a shot, Olbermann says that there’s a poll that says McCain doesn’t, Scarborough backs up his position. End of story.

    2) Matthews: okay, there’s some snideness going on, but those two work together on every political event of note, so there’s not going to be some good natured ribbing at times? It doesn’t seem like much more than that to me.

    Seriously, Denny, you’re making a mountain out of a molehill here.

  11. Darius August 28, 2008 at 12:20 pm #

    It amazes me that liberals can pretend like NBC, CBS, and ABC don’t have major liberal bents to their news.

    As for McCain’s “draft” comment, that is pretty weak. He said he didn’t disagree with anything the person said, PART of which included that she thought it would hard to accomplish everything McCain wanted to do regarding foreign policy without a draft. He has previously said that he is open to the idea of a draft if everyone was equally asked to serve, instead of the Vietnam-era draft where the rich could get out of serving. And even then, the draft would only be in case of dire need, which I agree should be an option (say, a World War III).

  12. Darius August 28, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    We all know that Olbermann has an ego bigger than most celebrities. His hate-filled rants (especially those “Worst Person of the Day” slots) are just the bloviating of an egotistic jerk. I feel sorry for him and the judgment that awaits him.

  13. volfan007 August 28, 2008 at 12:23 pm #


    Yall have CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and PBS(Sesame Street). Yall also have the public radio people on your side.

    All we have is Fox and Rush and a few others.

    And, the people who did that study were not morons. Most of the mainline news media people are registered Democrats. And, where do you suppose that they learned thier liberalism? At college! They tried to indoctrinate me at the university that I attended, but I withstood thier brainwashing tactics.



  14. Paul August 28, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    I think we should at the very least do mandatory service of some sort (armed forces, peace corps, Americorps) with no getting out of it for anyone, regardless of the government’s need.

    If nothing else, it teaches greater discipline and character, and if Americorps was big enough, you could practically get rid of FEMA.

    I’m not saying that there’s no bias at NBC, ABC & CBS. I AM saying however that it is far less than imagined, and that there are far too many conservatives out there that think that the “liberal” world is trying to get them and eat their young or something.

  15. Paul August 28, 2008 at 12:30 pm #

    Darius in #12:

    Those Worst Person of the Day spots are usually pretty amusing, and definitely spot on. Someone needs to hold Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly to task for some of the beyond cruel things that they say.

    As for egos, O’Reilly’s and Rush’s egos are just as big, and they’re probably awaiting the same judgement.

  16. Darius August 28, 2008 at 12:33 pm #

    It’s not paranoia if someone is truly out to get you. A quick glance at the universities in this country tells you that the intellectuals are out to destroy conservatism. A recent study in Colorado(?) showed that there were 40 liberals to every 1 conservative teaching political science in their colleges. Obviously, the intelligentsia are going to lean hard left. And the media all come from the universities, many with degrees in political science.

  17. Paul August 28, 2008 at 12:36 pm #


    CNN is too liberal?

    dude, the definition of playing it straight down the middle is being hated by everyone. And when the righties call CNN the Communist News Network and the lefties call it the Conservative News Network, you know that they’re actually doing something right.

    And as I’ve said before here, I won’t listen to anyone dumb enough to claim a liberal bias at NPR. I work for their competition, and I know many of the guys in charge over there, and I know what they strive for. Yes, there are liberals over there, but they do try hard to cut it straight down the middle.

    If you have republicans in charge of everything, as you did for 6 of the last 8 years, who are you going to report on? And if they do something wrong, guess what the news report is going to be about?

    You can’t call the news org’s liberal because the republicans are there to beat up. NPR and CNN were just as ruthless to Clinton during his time in office.

  18. Paul August 28, 2008 at 12:37 pm #

    Darius in #16:

    Okay, so don’t go to school in Colorado then. I’d also recommend avoiding UC Berkley and UW Madison if you’re a conservative looking to take poli sci as a major.

  19. Darius August 28, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    O’Reilly’s ego may be as big as Olbermann’s, I won’t doubt you there.

    The WPotD spots are disgusting, at least the ones I’ve seen. His one on Bush was revolting. And when Nathanael Blake and John Derbyshire were listed after the VT shootings, that was just absurd. Maybe, just maybe, the worst person of THAT day was the shooter. And usually they are extremely dishonest spots, where Olbermann takes words completely out of context or even quotes people wrong. Furthermore, he never uses that spot to give someone like Putin or Bin Laden the “Worst Person of the Day.” Liberals like Olbermann don’t hate real evil, they hate people who fight evil.

  20. Paul August 28, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    You’re taking Olbermann more seriously than anyone on the left even takes Olbermann if you’re that outraged.

  21. Prime Time Money August 28, 2008 at 12:59 pm #


    First off, I need you to post something postive about this campaign. I’m getting a little overwhelmed by the doom and gloom of the last few posts. C’mon man, give a brotha some hope. 🙂

    Regarding media bias, anyone with any age to them knows that long before FOX News existed, we had three networks that leaned left with their news reporting.

    It irks me when I hear negative remarks towards FOX’s bias. Although, FOX should have never used the slogan, “fair and balanced”. It taunts.

    But for all you kids, know that the slogan is merely a response to years of beat down from the liberal left media.

  22. Darius August 28, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    Prime Time Money, here is some political hope: McCain is now in the lead in national polls, and over 50% of Clinton supporters have indicated that they don’t like Obama. McCain will win, that’s not really a question. The real question is how will he govern?

  23. Paul August 28, 2008 at 1:06 pm #

    And I will chime in with a big ‘ol “I Told You So,” re: McCain winning the presidency.

  24. Ferg August 28, 2008 at 2:06 pm #

    you are, i’m not, you’re not, I am…liberals are, conservatives aren’t. liberals aren’t, conservatives are.

    You’d think people had NOTHING in common here.

  25. D.J. Williams August 28, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    Or perhaps the fact that this discussion is even taking place in an intelligent fashion proves that we have something quite significant in common here.

  26. Matt Privett August 29, 2008 at 12:08 am #

    Olberman has been too big for his britches everywhere he’s been. It led to his departure from ESPN, Fox Sports, and NBC once before. He is most definitely the most blatant when it comes to bias in reporting the news. Chris Matthews, who has been gushing over Senator Obama for months now and made some embarrassing statements, isn’t far behind, but is nowhere near as abrasive.

    As it pertains to FOX News, I think they are a lot more “fair and balanced” than people give them credit for. Most of their opinion is given by people who are obviously there to give their opinion (e.g. O’Reilly, Hannity, Colmes, etc.). But I find most of their straight news reporting to be pretty even-handed. Then again, I’m more conservative than most Republicans so maybe I’m just seeing it through those lenses.

    At any rate, I wonder how many of the FOX-haters were screaming about Cronkite, Rather, Jennings, et al through the years as the big three networks served as the publicity arm for left-leaning causes. And don’t even get me started on newspapers…

  27. Lucas Knisely August 29, 2008 at 7:39 am #

    The difference I’ve noticed between O’Reilly and Olbermann is that O’Reilly is more of a “TV Personality” to generate ratings and Olbermann is genuinely full of himself.

    The other main difference to note in this discussion is that MSNBC is biased without a balance while FOX News is biased but balances it with allowing people who completely disagree with them to come on their programs with regularity.

    Every news source is going to be biased to a degree and I think Fox takes the smartest and most informative way to balancing any apparent bias. When you watch the O’Reilly Factor or Special Report with Brit Hume, you typically get both sides of opinion and vantage point on any given issue because they intentionally seek out people who see things differently than the host. It makes for good TV (see ratings) and it makes for informative opinion sparring.

  28. Darius August 29, 2008 at 8:54 am #

    Matt P,

    Exactly. Fox is biased where they admit they are biased, the regular networks are biased where they claim to be unbiased. That is the difference.

  29. Paul August 29, 2008 at 9:12 am #

    Matt P,

    re this quote:

    “As it pertains to FOX News, I think they are a lot more “fair and balanced” than people give them credit for…But I find most of their straight news reporting to be pretty even-handed.”

    This is how news sources can hide their bias a little bit. Report your news as even handedly as possible, but skew what you report on in the first place. Avoid stories as long as you can (Fox w/Mark Foley), jump on stories before you check your sources (Fox claiming that we found WMD in Iraq). And, still, they show their bias anyway, referring to Foley as a Democrat when the news broke, and other such little “un”intentional “gaffes” here and there.

  30. Travis Cardwell September 8, 2008 at 12:25 pm #


    I wanted to say thank you for pointing us to Real Clear Politics! I noticed today ( that MSNBC is taking away primetime election coverage from Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. I can’t say that I’m dissapointed.

    Thanks for all your insight brother…this blog is a regular for me on goodle reader!


  1. Denny Burk » ‘Fatuous Suck-upping’ on Cable News - August 30, 2008

    […] two recent posts (here, here), I noted the unhidden bias of cable news coverage of the Democrat National Convention. I […]

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