Guy Benson

I've long contended that those who lazily equate MSNBC and Fox News probably don't watch of either network, especially the latter.  While Fox's opinion programming clearly slants to the right (albeit with no shortage of left-leaning guests), much of its news programming is robust, fair and balanced.  Not so at MSNBC.  According to a new nonpartisan analysis by the respected Pew Research Center, MSNBC barely boasts any news coverage at all:
 

True to its motto, MSNBC has been leaning forward. To the point that its opinionated programming far outweighs its “factual reporting,” according to a new Pew study. While Fox News, too, had more opinionated programming, the network had a much smaller discrepancy between opinion and straight reporting. The study — which came as part of Pew Research Center’s annual “State of the Media” report — states that opinionated programming comprised 85 percent of MSNBC’s airtime (versus 15 percent of “factual reporting”). Meanwhile, Fox News had opinion 55 percent of the time, with 45 percent straight news.  


The accompanying chart brings the discrepancy into even starker relief:
 


Liberals and conservatives will never reach total agreement on what qualifies as unbiased "factual reporting," but Pew's metric doesn't attempt to measure the subtleties of biased news coverage.  It only quantifies how much of each network's programming broadly qualifies as fact-based journalism, as opposed to opinion and subjective analysis.  As the chart illustrates, CNN and Fox fall into the same general range, with the two forms of programming splitting airtime roughly evenly.  MSNBC is out on an island of opinion, devoting more than 20 hours per day to commentary, rather than reporting.  And if you've ever had the misfortune of watching MSNBC from 6am through 11pm on any given weekday, you know that it's no stretch to estimate that at least 85 percent of their opinion content eminates from one end of the political spectrum.  In the final week of the election, MSNBC's opinion programming was literally 100 percent anti-Romney and pro-Obama.  I'll leave you with liberal Glenn Greenwald riffing on MSNBC's servile raison detre:
 

Last month, MSNBC's Al Sharpton conducted a spirited debate about whether Obama belongs on Mount Rushmore or instead deserves a separate monument to his greatness (just weeks before replacing frequent Obama critic Cenk Uygur as MSNBC host, Sharpton publicly vowed never to criticize Barack Obama under any circumstances: a vow he has faithfully maintained). Earlier that day on the same network, a solemn discussion was held, in response to complaints from MSNBC viewers, about whether it is permissible to ever allow Barack Obama's name to pass through one's lips without prefacing it with an honorific such as "President" or "the Honorable" or perhaps "His Excellency" (that really did happen)...I wonder: does someone who goes from being an Obama White House spokesman and Obama campaign official to being an MSNBC contributor even notice that they changed jobs?  Impressively, David Axelrod left the White House and actually managed to find the only place on earth arguably more devoted to Barack Obama.


NBC News' cable offshoot abandoned any pretense of ideological balance years ago.  It's now been formally established that MSNBC has also forfeited any claim to being a "news" organization, based on its own programming decisions.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography