MSNBC’s stable of primetime stars don’t seem to think three American prisoners being freed from captivity in North Korea is particularly newsworthy based on the minuscule amount of coverage they devoted to the story.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived at Andrews Air Force Base early Thursday with Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim, who were immediately greeted by President Trump. But viewers who rely on MSNBC’s primetime coverage for their news would have barely known it happened at all.
MSNBC only spent 30 seconds covering the release of the hostages during primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. ET. The network’s most-watched program, “The Rachel Maddow Show,” didn’t cover it at all. Neither did “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.” The only time it was mentioned on the cable news channel during primetime was a quick 30-second mention when “All In” host Chris Hayes discussed the upcoming Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
While the hostages coming home was ignored, the liberal primetime lineup spent significant time covering the anniversary of Trump firing former FBI Director James Comey, Vice President Mike Pence saying it’s time to wrap up the Mueller probe, criticism of Trump’s judicial nominees and various segments related to Rudy Giuliani, Michael Cohen and Michael Avenatti. O’Donnell also made sure to criticize Trump’s Indiana rally with a segment on what he “didn’t say.”
District Media Group President Beverly Hallberg called the hostage release a “huge moment” during an appearance on Fox News Friday morning before noting that it “should be something that should be able to bring Americans together.” Fox News host Todd Piro asked Hallberg if MSNBC was being “disingenuous” by overlooking the story during primetime.
“Absolutely,” Hallberg responded. “It’s actually shocking.”
The liberal network also downplayed the story throughout the day. When NBC News White House correspondent Hallie Jackson reported from Andrews Air Force Base on Thursday morning, she called it a “very carefully choreographed” event.
“Donald Trump is a former reality show producer. This was a staged production meant for television, meant for the cameras, meant to be shown and seen here in this country and around the world,” Jackson said on MSNBC.
Media Research Center analyst Bill D’Agostino pointed out that the network’s “Morning Joe” featured panelists taking turns “attempting to negatively spin” the news of three American hostages being released.
MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House” host Nicole Wallace even led a panel discussion during the network’s afternoon programming that declared Trump sees progress with North Korea as a political opportunity for the upcoming midterm elections. Wallace even mocked Trump for an adlib comment he made about the freed prisoners setting a television ratings record for the 3 a.m. timeslot.
“It may be an indication that the President is actively trying to read the political benefits of diplomacy with North Korea,” Wallace said.