The public reaction to the recent NSA revelations has been notable for the political alliances it’s formed, with people on the left and right both praising and condemning the leaks. MSNBC’s coverage has ended up in this same quandary, and a former producer for the network bashed hosts from Ed Schultz to Melissa Harris-Perry for their unquestioning loyalty to Obama, even with many progressives angry at the president, leading him to call MSNBC “the official network of the Obama White House.”
The media’s coverage of the NSA leaks and whistleblower Edward Snowden has been… interesting, to say the least, especially on MSNBC. In primetime alone, you have Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow approaching the news with varying degrees of curiosity and skepticism, and then Lawrence O’Donnell sweeping aside the scandal and defending the NSA’s surveillance programs.
Jeff Cohen, who worked as a producer on the short-lived MSNBC show Donahue, delivered a blistering critique of his former employer and the hosts it’s put on the air. He says he considers every word out of Obama’s mouth to be a lie, and goes after MSNBC for not being at least a little more skeptical of the president.
When it comes to issues of U.S. militarism and spying, the allegedly “progressive” MSNBC often seems closer to the “official network of the Obama White House” than anything resembling an independent channel. With a few exceptions (especially Chris Hayes), MSNBC has usually reacted to expanded militarism and surveillance by downplaying the abuses or defending them.
Had McCain or Romney defeated Obama and implemented the exact same policies, treating whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden as foreign espionage agents, one would expect MSNBC hosts to be loudly denouncing the Republican abuses of authority.
But with Obama in power, a number of MSNBC talking heads have reacted to the Snowden disclosures like Fox News hosts did when they were in hysterical damage control mode for Bush – complete with ridiculously fact-free claims and national chauvinism that we’ve long come to expect from the “fair & balanced” channel.
He singles out Schultz for his “O’Reilly-like blissful ignorance” in attacking Snowden, Harris-Perry for her bizarre rant saying Snowden should be more like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, and even Maddow, whom Cohen says he’s “disappointed” in for more subtle biases in the way she’s covered the story.
Cohen’s whole piece is worth a read, and you can find it here.