Change the meaning of the MS in MSNBC. At least for one brief moment last week, the abbreviation went from “Mostly Stupid” to “Mostly Sorry.” Co-host David Shuster, who seldom has a good word to say for any conservative, gave a classic non-apology apology when he said racial quotes attributed to talk show host Rush Limbaugh could not be verified. He was mostly sorry. Sort of. Maybe. “MSNBC attributed that quote to a football player who was opposed to Limbaugh’s NFL bid. However, we have been unable to verify that quote independently. So, just to clarify.”
Wow, a clarification after you helped slander someone because you lack the journalism skills of a high school blogger. At least CNN did better as CNN anchor Rick Sanchez apologized for running bogus quotes that made Rush Limbaugh appear racist. On Oct. 16, Sanchez admitted he and the network had screwed up:
“We have been unable to independently confirm that quote. We should not have reported it – not have reported it – without independent confirmation, and for that I apologize. I feel it’s important on this show to hold folks accountable whenever they make mistakes- that’s what I try to do- and you know what? That should include myself and that should also include my team. It’s important to let you know that.”
Those words may not have been very soothing to Limbaugh -- since that kind of reporting did much to help force him out of the group trying to buy the team -- but CNN clearly wins the ethics race, with MSNBC near the starting gate.
And guess what? That hardly the end of it. MSNBC, with its clown college anchors and hatred for conservative women, has become a network even liberals are embarrassed to watch. Just days before, Shuster had told the world (or MSNBC’s little piece of it) that a Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker was against Limbaugh because the talk show host supposedly said something about “slavery” not being all bad. “James Farrior says Limbaugh should be denied the privilege of owning an NFL franchise for comments like ‘slavery had its merits.’”
It took four days and criticism from the Media Research Center to get a major TV “news” network to fact check the story and correct the error – even though Limbaugh came out the same day skewering the piece. “There is not even an inkling that any words in this quote are accurate. It's outrageous, but it's totally predictable,” Limbaugh told his radio audience.
But this wasn’t an isolated incident. This was part of a greater campaign by MSNBC to discredit Limbaugh. And that is part of a greater MSNBC to target all conservatives with blistering attacks, wacky criticism and, just for the conservative women in the crowd, a hefty dose of misogyny.
On Oct. 13, MSNBC dragged out Pulitzer Prize winning writer Karen Hunter to fill the generic role bashing Limbaugh's NFL bid. Of course, she continued the slavery theme. “I can just see the visions of plantation grandeur dancing in his head as we speak,” Hunter said.
Her little anti-Limbaugh “Roots” fantasy went even further. “Yeah, it doesn't make you a racist to want to own a team. But, it does kind of with all his history question his power position over these players who make millions of dollars and his ability to be able to move them around, deny them contracts and do whatever he wants willy-nilly. It's the ultimate power position to be an owner of an NFL team.”
Hunter, it should be noted, is a famous expert on race as she has written such reputable works of scholarship as – “Pimpology: The 48 Laws of the Game,” and “On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men Who Sleep With Men.”
When MSNBC isn’t just beating on Limbaugh, it goes after right-wing women – especially former Gov. and V.P. candidate Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. Other favorite MSNBC targets include columnist Ann Coulter and "View" co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
“Hardball” host Chris Matthews called Bachmann “the Mata Hari of Minnesota” for her trying to get the House of Representatives to defend the U.S. dollar. On that same show, a guest took another swipe at Bachmann. Matt Taibbi, editor of Rolling Stone magazine, said that morning, “I saw a guy huffing glue out of a paper bag and he was making more sense than Michele Bachmann was making,”
Top all that off with a nightly dose of the network’s prime time stars:
- The boring and bombastic Ed Schultz who’s not only pro-union and pro-card check, he’s pro-check. The host earned $22,000 from his union buddies in 2008. Businessmen can’t expect an even break from Schultz or his accountant.
- The Mouth That Roared Keith Olbermann, who the NFL somehow tolerates even though he blasts conservative 45 times as often as liberals during his “Worst Person” segments.
- And “teabagging” champion Rachel Maddow who, along with Air America radio contributor Ana Marie Cox, used the word “teabag” at least 51 times in a 13-minute long segment of offensive “teabag” puns.
The result is a network using all of its muscle to attack conservatives. If MSNBC were on its own, that would be one thing. But it’s not. It’s affiliated with CNBC, NBC and even parent GE. That means this kind of anti-conservative hatred can seep out of the MSNBC cesspool and ooze into other outlets as well.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum and he can be seen on Foxnews.com’s “Strategy Room.” He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.