Back in May, I asked Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to look into a particular broadcast of the “Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC in which Maddow potentially libeled the National Center for Public Policy Research. Roberts pledged to look into Maddow’s comments and report back to me.
While I am still waiting for a response from Roberts, it seems Maddow heard my message loud and clear.
Comcast is the parent company of NBC Universal, which owns and operates MSNBC. At Comcast’s annual shareholder meeting, I confronted the top executive with the repugnant rhetoric emanating daily from MSNBC’s talking heads.
Mr. Roberts, why is this happening? Editorializing need not contain libel and NBC Universal is not a middle-school operation – standard fact checking should be in place at all times… MSNBC personnel have a habit of making outlandish remarks and then, sometimes, withdrawing them. For example, Chris Matthews said Republican primary voters are comparable to Grand Wizards of the Ku Klux Klan, then, claimed he didn’t mean to say it. Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a slut. Then, he apologized. But he has also claimed that Republicans want to see sick people die so they can make money off their corpses; that conservative commentators want to see President Obama shot; and he said of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s heart “we ought to rip it out, kick it around, and stuff it back in him.” These would be shocking things for a drunk to say at a bar, Mr. Roberts, but they are being said by supposed professional journalists on your network. Why?
While my complaint largely discussed MSNBC’s vile content and unprofessional personalities in general terms, I specifically referenced the April 24th broadcast of the “Rachel Maddow Show” in which Maddow accused the National Center of “funnel[ing] cash and perks to members of Congress” to influence legislation. This is not true, and MSNBC knows it. Maddow offered no basis for this reckless accusation, and I pointed out to Roberts that network owes us an explanation and an apology.
While we wait, however, it appears Maddow is singing a new public tune about her role as a journalist.
On June 22nd, Maddow appeared on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.” She shocked the host, audience and fellow panelists with the unexpected claim that she was non-partisan and merely reported the news while offering no opinions whatsoever.
When fellow panelist, Reason magazine editor Nick Gillespie, commented that Maddow always sides with – in his words – Democratic positions over Republican ones, Maddow emphatically denied the charge, saying, “[y]ou don’t even know me.” Gillespie, not conceding the point, asked her for an instance when she has chosen a conservative opinion over the liberal option.
Maddow avoided the question.
Later in the program, the discussion shifted to ObamaCare and RomneyCare. Here, Gillespie was sure that Maddow would agree that RomneyCare was an example of conservative legislation that the MSNBC host would like. Maddow, however, refused to offer any opinion, claiming, “my job is to cover these things, not to tell you how I like them or not.”
Writing for NewsBusters, Jack Coleman explained that this “is the opposite of what Maddow does every weeknight on MSNBC, as anyone who has spent even random seconds watching her show while channel surfing is aware. The program is officially titled ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ but would be more accurately subtitled, ‘Liberal politics I like, conservative politics I loathe.’”
While Maddow didn’t credit the National Center for inspiring her newfound journalistic integrity, the fact that I brought this to the attention of her ultimate boss seems to have had an impact on her. After all, conservatives have complained about Maddow’s extreme bias for years, but it wasn’t until now – just months after my challenge to CEO Roberts – that Maddow began professing her neutral status.
Only time will tell if Maddow stays true to her word and actually works to become the more professional journalist she claims to be, reporting stories devoid of her well-known far-left opinion. But for now, it appears that she got our message that she and her fellow talking heads at MSNBC should tone down their rhetoric.
Maybe at next year’s shareholder meeting, I will press Comcast executives to hire MSNBC some better fact checkers …