Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MSNBC still losing the war

Steve Benen is something of a legend as a blogger. And now he pretty much single-handedly writes Maddow Blog. He is really good, but I often have problems with him. They are usually the same problems I have with Rachel Maddow and the whole of the MSNBC nighttime lineup. First, they are too actively partisan. Second, they are not very effective in their partisanship. I think of them very much the way I think of Obama: in a perfect world, we largely agree. But given political constraints, their priorities are very often not mine.

Today, Benen took an opportunity to go after Rand Paul. That's all fine. Paul is an idiot. But the framing was all wrong. Benen compared Chris Christie's "practical conservatism" with Paul's "ideological conservatism." Then he argues that there isn't even much to Paul's ideological thinking. But he leaves the impression that Christie somehow is practical and therefore, at least somewhat reasonable.

There is a reason that Paul claims the "ideologically purity" throne and Christie claims the "get stuff done" throne. Paul is a United States Senator. Chris Christie is a governor. It is the nature of their jobs. Christie is no less ideologically rigid than Paul. In fact, if you look at the men's last battle, it was Christie talking about how Rand Paul should shut up regarding NSA surveillance because Christie has to look in the faces of the widows. It was pure politics of the lowest common denominator—absolutely vile, disgusting stuff.

In addition to that, Rand Paul's position is the liberal position in that fight. I'm sure that Steve Benen has no trouble understanding that regardless of how effective "stop and frisk" may be (it isn't), if it isn't constitutional, it's still wrong. But he's more than willing to give a shout out to Christie in his political campaign for the surveillance state.

Christie isn't just a vile man on this and most other issues. He is also running for office. Rand Paul isn't running for another four years. If you're going to be a partisan, be an effective one. Christie will likely win his re-election bid with lots of help from liberals who just don't know what they are voting for. And here is MSNBC portraying him as the anti-Rand Paul, even though Christie is actually worse on the issues than Paul. Brilliant!

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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  • re:
    >>First, they are too actively
    >>partisan. Second, they are not very
    >>effective in their partisanship.

    I would agree with your second point, but not your first. I welcome a news channel that is actively progressive. You know, CNN has tried this whole "mushy middle" approach and it's simply not worked---their ratings are still in the toilet. In any case, CNN usually puts me to sleep.
    I really like the fact that, after a hard days' work, I can flip on MSNBC and get proud, unabashed progressive voices and no-holds-barred attacks on today's extremist, crazy Republicans.
    And no, I don't see MSNBC as the "flipside" to Fox News. Fox is an evil bunch of goddamn liars. It's a channel with BLOOD on its hands, for Chrissakes ("Tiller the Baby Killer", Glenn Beck's crazy rants, etc.)
    Whatever its faults, MSNBC does speak the truth. I prefer its loud, proud, partisan approach over the mushy middle.
    Incidentally, one of the GOP's biggest successes over the past 30 years has been to shift the "center" so far to the right that what was once "right-wing" (such as the Heritage Foundation's 1990s idea of an individual mandate and the GOP's original idea of Cap and Trade) is now considered "Liberal" and "left-wing."
    Taking this into account, I'm not even sure that MSNBC is really even "progressive." I mean, Maddow has described herself as an "Eisenhower Republican" (which just goes to show you how far the "center" has moved to the right in the U.S. in recent decades).
    It's truly sickening what is going on. If this continues (and I'm sure it will), then the sort of swill pumped out by Fox "News" these days will be considered "the center" 10 years from now.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:05 AM  

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