The more things change, the more they stay the same. In August, 2009- 17 months before General Electric relinquished majority ownership of NBC Universal to Comcast- Glenn Greenwald wrote
Having Richard Wolffe host an MSNBC program -- or serving as an almost daily "political analyst" -- is exactly tantamount to MSNBC's just turning over an hour every night to a corporate lobbyist. Wolffe's role in life is to advance the P.R. interests of the corporations that pay him, includingcorporations with substantial interests in virtually every political issue that MSNBC and Countdown cover. Yet MSNBC is putting him on as a guest-host and "political analyst" on one of its prime-time political shows. What makes that even more appalling is that, as Ana Marie Cox first noted, neither MSNBC nor Wolffe even disclose any of this.
Wolffe, who has been described by Digby as "Obama's stenographer," still is a frequent contributor on MSNBC programs. MSNBC was a cheerleader for the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama, both pre- and post- nomination. Much of the network still is owned by General Electric, whose CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, was tapped early this year to head Barack Obama's Council on Jobs and Effectiveness.
But while MSNBC is now owned primarily by Comcast, Phil Griffin (Senior Vice President at NBC News) remains its president. And now, the network's host most critical of Barack Obama, Cenk Uygur, is out. Uygur, a graduate of Columbia Law School, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the finest high school in the U.S., explained (video, below) his departure from MSNBC on his on-line outfit, The Young Turks.
Since he took over the 6:00 p.m. (Eastern) hour, Uygur argued (as can be heard on the video below) MSNBC's ratings have significantly increased in that time slot. Nevertheless, the "head of MSNBC" warned him "people in Washington told me that they're concerned about your tone" and "we're insiders. We're the establishment." Uygur stated the head honcho told him "you gotta tone it down and then he had me talk to one of their top contributors," who told him, in the host's words, to "tone it down" and have more Republicans" (which was fine with Uygur). A few months later, he was out, though he was offered "a different role."
No doubt, this came as no surprise to Greenwald or to the Daily Howler's Bob Somerby, who frequently has slammed corporate control of MSNBC. Still, pundits promoted by Fox News, CNN, and others will whine about the "liberal media." The more fair-minded of them, such as Michael Smerconish, instead will argue that there are Fox on the right, MSNBC on the left, and CNN in the middle.
But CNN, Fox, and MSNC all promote insider wisdom, whether on the need to cut those evil "entitlements," tacit support for growing income inequality in the nation, or the educational "reform" movement (a favorite of MSNBC), proxy for privatization.
MSNBC never has been a predominantly liberal network, though it always has been aggressively pro-Barack Obama. Now that President Obama has taken on the values and interests of Wall Street, it's critical that their hosts, including the well-meaning but hapless and oft-confused Ed Schultz, heed the advice to "tone it down." This isn't a matter of tone of voice. Al Sharpton currently is hosting the 6:00 p.m.-7:00 hour; a discredited (think Tawana Brawley and Korean-American shopkeepers) loudmouth, he nevertheless is practically an Obama syncophant and will not "talk truth to power" as long as the latter occupies the White House.