Brookings Survey: The Most Trusted Name in Television News Is . . . Fox News!


Media analysts frequently describe Fox News Channel and MSNBC as mirror images of each other, one a conservative news channel and the other a liberal one. A Pew study contended the comparison wasn’t quite accurate, as commentary and opinion made up 85 percent of the programming on MSNBC, and only 55 percent on Fox News.

This new report on views on immigration from Brookings and the Public Religion Research Institute includes some fascinating figures on trust in particular media institutions:

MSNBC is “trusted to provide accurate information about politics and current events” by only 5 percent of respondents, while 25 percent feel the same about Fox News. CNN is in the middle at 17 percent. Obviously, Republicans and conservatives trust Fox News the most, and Democrats and liberals trust it the least. But what’s kind of fascinating is that only 10 percent of Democrats and only 10 percent of self-identified liberals trust MSNBC.

Self-described independents trust Fox News more than any other network, but self-described moderates trust it less than broadcast news, CNN, and public television.

Tags: Media , Fox News , MSNBC , CNN

Announcing a Big Change to NR’s ‘Morning Jolt’


With the big changes coming to the Jolt, here is today’s edition, in its entirety, to bring everyone up to speed . . . 

Morning Jolt
. . . with Jim Geraghty

April 1, 2014


Readers, you may have noticed commercials for MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, touting the program as a Morning Jolt.™ That branding effort was, in fact, an early promotion for MSNBC and NBCUniversal’s effort to diversify its morning news assets. Last night that effort took a dramatic step forward — with an additional bit of leaning forward — as NBCUniversal finalized its purchase of the Morning Jolt™ newsletter from National Review, Inc.

In exchange, National Review, Inc. received an undisclosed sum, as well as a second-round draft pick in this year’s National Media Pundit Draft, held May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

And now, presenting our New Morning JOE-LT format . . . 

Why Doesn’t Joe Scarborough Run for President?

Isn’t he awesome? I mean, just layers upon layers of awesome.

So while he’s technically denied that he’s running for president . . . 

Joe Scarborough is running a campaign. It may be a campaign to change the Republican Party, to sell a book or perhaps to enhance his reputation.

But not, he insists, a campaign for president.

“I’m not running, and I’m not considering running,” Mr. Scarborough, a Republican former congressman and host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” said in a telephone interview from Florida, where he was on spring break with his children. “I’m not making any Shermanesque statements, but I do not expect that to change.”

. . . that didn’t stop people from speculating recently . . . 

Scarborough’s speech sounds for all the world like a campaign speech — and a not-bad one at that. During the audience Q-and-A, a man stands up and says, “Thank you for giving my wife a tingle every morning.” Scarborough blushes hotly underneath his smooth tan, face scrunching gleefully behind his horn-rimmed glasses. “I categorically deny it!” he says.

. . . and it didn’t stop people from speculating in 2012 . . . 

After the presidential inauguration in January, Joe (no fan of Mitt Romney’s — “I’ve been very critical”) plans on publishing a memoir that will serve — no joke — as a vehicle to test the waters for a presidential run in 2016.

. . . and in 2010 . . . 

There’s no campaign yet, and there may never be, but New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and MSNBC’s morning talk-show host Joe Scarborough have begun trying to figure out whether they could be an independent presidential ticket in 2012 — and who would be better to be on top if it happens.

. . . and in 2009 . . . 

I think I’ve found the new face of the Republican Party. It’s not a new one, entirely, and it’s been hiding out on national television every weekday morning from six to nine.

Joe Scarborough.

Clearly, the only thing that can stop people from speculating about Joe Scarborough running for president is Joe Scarborough actually running for president.


Why Doesn’t Mika Brzezinski Run for President?

As this newsletter noted in a past edition, the conservative movement mostly shrugs its shoulders at America’s increasing obesity rates, choosing to believe that individual responsibility can resolve the issue. But evidence is mounting that resolving this national problem will take more than that. Clearly, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” and “Let’s Drink Water!” and “Let’s Breathe Oxygen” campaigns have had only a marginal effect.

I suspect skyrocketing obesity rates and the resulting costs on our health-care system are issues that we on the right are going to have a tough time addressing. Most of us don’t think this is something the government ought to be involved with, and we rightfully point out that some recent efforts to address this have a distinctly Orwellian tone, like Mike Bloomberg’s war on large sodas. (Brzezinski calls Bloomberg “her hero.”)

Freedom means the freedom to make the wrong choices. Unfortunately, the wrong choice can have really bad consequences, and you wonder how self-destructive a choice must be before others are allowed to intervene to try to steer people away from those bad choices. If your eating habits are near-certain to create health-care costs later in life that you will be unable to afford, racking up huge costs to the Medicare system, is it still your business alone?

This isn’t a job for a first lady; it’s a job for a president. This country needs a commander-in-chief in the war on weight, and that leader is . . . 

Okay, maybe not that guy. Perhaps it will require . . . President Brzezinski.

Seriously, can your morning show hosts do this?


Why Doesn’t Donnie Deutsch Run for — Eh, Never Mind.

I mean, come on.


Why Do Conservative Guests Keep Eyeing MSNBC Contributors Skeptically?

Seriously, it’s almost as if the guy sitting on the left has been psychologically conditioned to greet everything Robert Gibbs says with skepticism.

And will someone please tie down his hands? He’s going to knock somebody out with those hand gestures.


Coming Tomorrow: Thirty-Seven Signs Your Favorite Media Source Is Emulating BuzzFeed in an Effort to Increase Traffic

ADDENDA: You remember what day today is, right?

Tags: Something Lighter , MSNBC

A Brief Defense of This Town From This Town


The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features a look at some of the potential primary challengers to South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, Congress waking up and objecting to Obama’s effort to arm the Syrian rebels, and then this hot topic in the nation’s capital . . . 

A Brief Defense of This Town From This Town

I’m eager to read Mark Leibovitch’s This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital. The reviews make it sound like an utterly delicious dissection of the clubby, incestuous ways of Washington D.C.’s most powerful figures. As the Washington Post review summarized, “His tour through Washington only feeds the worst suspicions anyone can have about the place — a land driven by insecurity, hypocrisy and cable hits, where friendships are transactional, blind-copying is rampant and acts of public service appear largely accidental.”

But as I see reviewers tripping over themselves to salute the book as the Necronomicon of Washington Insiders, I’m left wondering who, exactly, is still surprised by a description of powerful D.C. officials being ambitious and eager to trade favors and jockeying for status . . . and how, exactly, one would cultivate a culture significantly different from this in the capital city of a democratic republic.

Isn’t any one-industry town a combination of clubby shared interests and quiet competition for superiority? Certainly Hollywood is. Don’t all the big shots in Silicon Valley run into each other at the same parties, eat at the same restaurants, meet at the same conferences, and so on? I realize J. R. Ewing is a fictional character, but I am to believe that Dallas and Houston don’t have their share of ambitious, sharp-elbowed energy-industry executives competing for the corner office? Aren’t most state capitals the same cultural dynamics as Washington, on a smaller scale? And you’re telling me that Manhattan isn’t just as bad or worse when it comes to giant egos, conspicuous consumption, fierce competition, less-than-genuine social-based friendships, and so on?

Any city with a lot of power (political, economic, cultural) and money is going to attract a lot of folks who want to get a part in it. Some will be brilliant, some will be craven, and a lot will be somewhere in between or both.

The ambition, desire for power, and temptation of lies that Leibovitch describes is more or less the human condition, and I’m skeptical that the culture of today’s Washington is significantly different than a generation ago, when Clark Clifford scoffed that Ronald Reagan was an “amiable dunce” at a party while working for the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, and Sally Quinn enjoyed her era of “five-course dinners a couple of nights a week, with a different wine for each course, served in a power-filled room of politicians, diplomats, White House officials and well-known journalists.” Want to go back further, to the era of Pamela Harriman’s Georgetown parties? The grand gatherings of Marjorie Merriweather Post? There was no golden age when Washington didn’t have folks who wanted to be thought of as the smartest, the most powerful, the most well-connected, the funniest, and so on.

(If you want to find something likeable about those past eras, let’s note that Washington’s role as “Hollywood for ugly people” meant you were less likely to be judged by your appearance. Henry Kissinger said power was the ultimate aphrodisiac, not his rugged good looks or rumbling baritone.)

Anyway, back to This Town. From the Washington Post’s review:

First, there is longtime NBC news reporter Andrea Mitchell — a conflict of interest in human form. Married to former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, Mitchell has specialized in covering administrations and campaigns that “overlapped considerably with her social and personal habitat,” as Leibovich puts it.

There are those weekend getaways at George Shultz’s home. And dinner with Tipper and Al. And that surprise 50th-birthday party for Condi. And what do you do when you’re reporting on the 2008 financial crisis and many people are pointing at your husband as a chief culprit? NBC tossed up a fig leaf: allowing Mitchell to cover the politics of dealing with the financial crisis, but not the conditions that gave rise to it. Such hair-splitting becomes inevitable, Leibovich writes, because Mitchell trying to avoid conflicts of interest is “like an owl trying to avoid trees.”

I can hear you cheering the public flaying of Mitchell for being too clubby with the officials she covers, but let me ask you this: If Andrea Mitchell had been a college professor or worked in some other non-media jobs, would Greenspan be widely sneered and spat upon and put in public stocks to have rotten fruit hurled at him? Does anybody feel like coverage and public discussion of Alan Greenspan — and the resulting public opinion of him — was/is significantly altered by Mitchell’s role at NBC News? Greenspan’s had his defenders and critics hashing it out in the public square for years. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here…)

I need to read This Town to see if Leibovitch finds Mitchell to be the figure at NBC/MSNBC who most deserves a public dressing down. But don’t her offenses seem mid-level at best? In the end, which is more damaging to journalism — Mitchell’s marriage to Greenspan and friendships with elected officials, or MSNBC determining its market role is to be the Obama administration’s in-house network, showcasing the likes of (at various times) Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann, Lawrence O’Donnell, Melissa Harris-Perry, etc.? How about the hiring of Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod as “political analysts”? How about the president of MSNBC declaring, “we’re not the place for breaking news”?

Ahem. Some of us noticed this a long time ago.

Clubbiness between government officials and those who cover them is a legitimate issue to discuss, but the Greenspan-Mitchell marriage feels like a rather dated issue to find objectionable…

Then there’s this, from the New York Times review . . . 

He opens with an account of the 2008 funeral of the NBC Washington bureau chief and “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert, and as a quarter-century resident now in happy exile, I suppose I should stick to form and mention, hideously, that we — Tim and I — came to Washington at the same time and were friends, although mostly because I had a wife from Buffalo, and he delighted in teasing her about her bowling. The people at this funeral (and as I recall, this was an invitation-only rite) adhered to what Mr. Leibovich calls “the distinctive code of posture at the fancy-pants funeral: head bowed, conspicuously biting his lips, squinting extra hard for the full telegenic grief effect.”

How does Leibovich know they’re mugging grief for the cameras? How does he know this isn’t how these people look when they’re actually grieving?

Then there’s this litany in the Times review:

So, striding self-importantly through these pages are the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (“harshly judgmental of fat people”); Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican (“a blister on the leadership of both chambers, or sometimes something more dangerous”); Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York (“lens-happy, even by senatorial standards”); the lobbyist and former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour (“looks like a grown version of Spanky from the Little Rascals”); the former House minority leader Richard Gephardt (“whose willingness to reverse long-held positions in the service of paying clients was egregious even by D.C.’s standards”); and the modern super-flack Kurt Bardella (possessed of “a frantic vulnerability and desperation”).

Lest you’ve forgotten, here’s Spanky. Yeah, yeah, “ha ha ha.” We can all see Barbour. He’s fat. Round face. Double chin. A lot of folks have that. Is making fun of Haley Barbour’s appearance . . . edgy? Daring? Some sort of great, witty insight that reveals the ways of American politics?

Finally, there’s this detail in a long excerpt that ran in the New York Times this weekend:

Robert Gibbs announced that he would be leaving as White House press secretary . . . he was a journeyman flack who struck gold with the right patron and wound up talking at the lectern at 1600 Pennsylvania. Gibbs’s time at the White House had been a mixed bag, which included internal West Wing clashes, strained relationships with reporters and a few mishaps that resulted from excessive candor. But he was nonetheless set for life as a professional “former.” That is, a former official who can easily score a seven-figure income as an out-of-office wise man, statesman or hired gun. “Formers” stick to Washington like melted cheese on a gold-plated toaster, and Gibbs would be no exception. He could move seamlessly into the news media (MSNBC) at a time when punditry replaced reporting as journalism’s highest pursuit. (Since leaving the White House in 2011, Gibbs has made about $2 million in paid speeches alone.)

Cue the outrage that Gibbs has made $2 million in paid speaking gigs in about two years. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Just keep in mind that unless you’re a member of an organization that paid Gibbs his unspecified fee — like the Traffic Club of Pittsburgh, National Ocean Industries Association, Union College, American University in Dubai, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, United States Travel Association, Premier Health Alliance, Citigroup Latin America, Saint Xavier University — he didn’t take your money.

Speaking gigs are pretty much the only way a guy like Robert Gibbs is ever going to make a million a year. If you give a man an opportunity to make oodles of money giving speeches . . . he’s going to take it. Tears for Fears didn’t quite have it right; Lots of folks don’t want to rule the world; they just want to live well while somebody else rules the world.

Tags: Alan Greenspan , MSNBC , Andrea Mitchell , Haley Barbour , Robert Gibbs

Priebus on Chris Matthews: ‘He Made the Case for Us.’


Shortly before our chat, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus held a brief press “gaggle” in the media center, and briefly talked about his exchange with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning.

(Video can be found at Hot Air here; among Matthews’s accusations was: “This stuff about getting rid of the work requirement for welfare is dishonest, everyone’s pointed out it’s dishonest, and you are playing that little ethnic card there. You can play your games and giggle about it, but the fact is your side is playing that card. When you start talking about work requirements, we know what game you’re playing, and everybody knows what game you’re playing, it’s a race card.”)

“When someone wants to grab the flag and try to be the biggest jerk in the room, sometimes you just let them go,” the chairman said with a laugh.

“We shook hands, but I will tell ya that someone from MSNBC, I don’t know if it’s a producer or somebody, has been trying to call us all day — I’m sure it’s to make amends, but there’s nothing to make amends [about]. When somebody wants to take the prize of being the biggest jerk in the room . . . I mean, he made the case for us. This is the Barack Obama surrogate of 2012. This is what they’re all about. They’re going to be about division, they’re going to be about distraction. And I’ve got to tell you, the brand of Barack Obama, hope and change and bringing us all together, it’s completely broken. When people come to realize that you’re not real anymore, you’re not who you said you were, that’s a big problem for Barack Obama.”

Asked if he would go on MSNBC again, he said, “I’m happy to go on MSNBC. Joe and Mika, they weren’t too happy about it. The feeling in the room was clearly there was a lot of unhappiness directed at Chris. I don’t really care. If more than 10 people actually watched his show, I would actually care, but they don’t, so, whatever.”

Tags: MSNBC , Reince Priebus

MSNBC: Using the Flag in Political Advertising Is Criminal!


MSNBC’s Martin Bashir goes into high dudgeon, accusing Sarah Palin of violating federal law by displaying the flag on her bus.

“The whole thing could be in breach of a federal law,” he ominously intones. “The United States flag code establishes important rules for the use and display of the Stars and Stripes, the flag of the United States.* Under standards of respect and etiquette it is made clear that the flag of the United States should never be used for any advertising purpose whatsoever. Yet that’s precisely what Sarah Palin is doing.”

I await his furious denunciation of President Obama for using the flag in the first ad of his 2012 campaign, as we see at the 5 second mark, the 25 second mark, and the 50 second mark.

Oh, wait, it’s only an outrage when Sarah Palin does it.

For that matter, round up almost every ad from every presidential candidate for the past few decades! Round up almost every car commercial in the same period! Round up all of the Memorial Day and Fourth of July circulars!

* Note that when addressing an MSNBC audience, Bashir felt the need to explain that the Stars and Stripes is the flag of the United States. I’m going to guess that for a lot of viewers, that’s a given.

Tags: Barack Obama , MSNBC , Sarah Palin

Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review