From Townhall Magazine's EXCLUSIVE February feature, "Spending the Night with MSNBC":
Now that MSNBC has stopped playing musical chairs with its nightly lineup, I decided to venture into no man’s land (literally—have you seen their ratings?) and watch the shows that liberals love and conservatives despise.
I watched the MSNBC lineup on December 6, 2011, which I’m sure the low-rated network appreciated. According to a New York Times article from late September, the network has faced a ratings downturn. The article asked if Keith Olbermann’s abrupt departure had been a factor in the network’s declining viewership. Their answer: “Enough, apparently, to be on the verge of falling back into third place among the cable news networks.” MSNBC eventually came back to beat CNN, but the two remain in a tight competition. Their ratings, however, are routinely overshadowed by Fox News.
Despite the aforementioned poor ratings, I wanted to watch a full night of MSNBC’s programming to see how much its liberal leanings devalued its journalistic integrity. From 6-11 p.m., I watched the network’s prime-time lineup. I decided to catch the repeat of “Hardball with Chris Matthews” at 7 p.m., instead of the original episode at 5, so that I could absorb the full MSNBC effect with few interruptions.
Here’s what I learned (or, more accurately, failed to learn) during the night I spent with MSNBC.
First Hour: “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton ”
My evening begins at 6 p.m. with the Rev. Al Sharpton, the astute political analyst who, according to Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes,” has “decided not to criticize the president about anything.” This liberal icon is known to many viewers because of the racial tensions that he helped stir up over his long, turbulent career.
Sharpton’s lead story focuses on “the case for a more fair America,” and he speaks admiringly about a speech President Obama gave earlier that day in Kansas where he compared himself to Republican President Theodore Roosevelt.
In the first example of MSNBC’s philosophy of “what we lack in subtlety we make up for in our graphics department,” the text at the bottom of the screen during the story calls Obama a “middle-class warrior.” Three images of Obama show up behind Sharpton: Obama! Obama! Obama!
Read more of John P. Hanlon's experience in the February issue of Townhall Magazine.