Over at Bearing Drift a few weeks ago Shaun Kenney said this about MSNBC:
“Let’s be very honest about it. MSNBC caters to probably the most hateful, unintelligent, mean-spirited, and closed minded of the American left. The smugness and arrogance of the blathering idiots are perhaps only punctuated by the occasional bright light offered by Rachel Maddow, but beyond this are nothing but the vapid darkness of a fanatic who won’t change their mind and rarely changes the subject.”
“They really do hate us,” says Mr. Kenney (emphasis in the original), and it’s this hate that irks conservatives. This makes MSNBC a “perfect caricature of what liberals think Fox News must be” (emphasis again from the original).
Mr. Kenney goes on to quote Paul Spiliakos of First Things to make a case that Keith Olberman created the demagoguery at the network, and Charles C. W. Cooke at National Review Online to argue that MSNBC reflects “current events in parallel America II — a rather silly place in which the political center of gravity and all things Good are defined by the preferences of the faculty at Berkeley and the comments section of the Daily Kos and in which anyone who dissents from this position is believed to possess two heads, a black heart, and a pocket copy of Mein Kampf.”
Now I watch a lot of cable news, and there can be no doubt that MSNBC leans left. It should surprise no one that at least one of the three major cable news networks tried to capture the left end of the political news market after Fox grabbed the right. But MSNBC broadcasts Morning Joe’s beltway insiderism, and while discussions there are certainly vapid enough, they don’t express hate for conservatives. There is no equivalent program at FNC.
I would also suggest that liberal viewers watching FNC get their share of vitriol and hate, but of course your mileage may vary.
And while Ed Shultz and Al Sharpton can demagogue right along with the best Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly have to offer, MSNBC hosts like Steve Kornacki, Chris Hayes, and Melissa Harris-Perry manage to present very insightful public policy discussions. They certainly approach this from a liberal perspective, but they invite genuine alternative viewpoints to the roundtables on their shows, something Fox hosts rarely, if ever, do. In any event, I would invite readers to watch video from both MSNBC and Fox News and then come to their own conclusions.
More interesting for my purposes here is that Mr. Kenney goes on to ask:
“…whether or not American public discourse deserves better. Even more than that, where would we even find this sort of intellectual give-and-take on the mainstream left nowadays when everything outside of the pale of acceptable nee leftist opinion is considered either reactionary or borderline fascism?”
The he suggests we “Look around the Virginia blogosphere” and wonders “Where is the left-wing equivalent of Bearing Drift?”
It seems to me that Blue Virginia provides an intellectual counterpart for Bearing Drift. Both offer an interesting mix of Virginia political analysis and strident partisan attacks, as a quick look at each home page right now shows. Mr. Kenney might also want to take a look at The Richmonder and Not Larry Sabato (the latter especially for some very solid electoral analysis from a Democratic Party perspective).
And if Mr. Kenney is worried about the state of public discourse he may want to take a look at some of the blogs on the conservative side. I met with more hate and vitriol in two comment threads at novatownhall in recent days than MSNBC produces.
Anyway, I plan to see if I can supply some of the “intellectual give and take” Mr. Kenney seeks. We’ll see if the folks at Bearing Drift and other conservative blogs in Virginia can respond in kind.