First Things: The Problem With MSNBC and The House That Olbermann Built


Some insightful analysis of MSNBC and the culture it caters to:

The problem was that the old Hardball with Chris Matthews was the same problem with the old MSNBC. It had no identity and low ratings. That changed with Keith Olbermann. Olbermann’s combination of liberal anger and smug self-righteousness gave MSBBC an identity as the network for liberal self-congratulation. That didn’t mean news and analysis produced by mostly liberal journalists who were trying, even with all their biases, to tell the story straight (most of the time). The old networks and CNN were already doing that. MSNBC found a business model appealing to that sliver of the left that wanted to spend its evenings being told how today’s conservative was the “worst person in the world”.

Let’s be very honest about it.  MSNBC caters to probably the most hateful, unintelligent, mean-spirited, and closed minded of the American left.  The smugness and arrogance of the blathering idiots are perhaps only punctuated by the occasional bright light offered by Rachel Maddow, but beyond this are nothing but the vapid darkness of a fanatic who won’t change their mind and rarely changes the subject.

…but it’s the hate that irks the mind of non-political and conservatives viewers.  I mean, they really do hate us.  It’s the perfect caricature of what liberals think Fox News must be.

Of course, the folks swirling in the MSNBC punch bowl (it is a punch bowl, right?) aren’t really original.  They’re caricatures of the man who knew it was a game all along — Keith Olbermann.

Olbermann was an entertaining performer and he was probably blinkered enough that he believed most of the stuff he said about conservatives. Matthews is a wised-up political operator. He knows better. While Olbermann had better comic timing, more creativity and more genuine off-his-meds rage, it is Matthews that is still on MSNBC. Olbermann was a difficult employee and MSNBC became another place that he left on bad terms, but Olbermann left behind a cable channel made in his image. Matthews is still doing his Olbermann-influenced act (even if it is humorless and the hostility is forced). Matthews knows it is his job to feed his audience’s hate without crossing his corporate bosses – and so Chris Matthews still has a job in the House That Olbermann Built.

Of course, Charlie Cook over at NRO has perhaps the most convicting lines of the rap sheet against MSNBC and their troop of useful idiots:

To watch MSNBC for an afternoon is not so much to be given a slanted account of what is happening here in America, but instead to witness a series of discussions about current events in parallel America II — a rather silly place in which the political center of gravity and all things Good are defined by the preferences of the faculty at Berkeley and the comments section of the Daily Kosand in which anyone who dissents from this position is believed to possess two heads, a black heart, and a pocket copy of Mein Kampf.

Conservatives… is this not the experience you have felt from progressives?  Is this not how middle America is portrayed?  Clinging to guns and religion?

The greater question is whether or not American public discourse deserves better.  Even more than that, where would we even find this sort of intellectual give-and-take on the mainstream left nowadays when everything outside of the pale of acceptable nee leftist opinion is considered either reactionary or borderline fascism?

Look around the Virginia blogosphere.  Where is the left-wing equivalent of Bearing Drift?  It doesn’t exist… you don’t find it.

Meanwhile, we continue to slouch and earn the government we deserve, filling our stomachs with junk food and our brains with junk news, and demand that we must have 100% agreement or else become hostes humanis generis worthy of the fate Olbermann and others have decreed for all evil non-conforming fascist libertarian Christianist corporatist Nazi jack-booted police state racist anarchist women-hating Rethugs.

Does it get old?

  • Jim Portugul

    Are we to believe that if Albert Einstein were alive, he would not doubt be listening to the “Fuhrer” of the Republican party on AM hate radio?

    • Britt Howard

      Who would that be, Jim?

      • Alex70

        Well, sir, I guess Mr. Portugul is referring to Mr. Limbaugh. Please correct me if I’m wrong, Mr. Portugul.

        True story ladies and gentlemen, on my absolute word of honor—cross-my-heart-hope-to die: as an impoverished graduate student studying at Indiana University in 1992-93, I was taking a shower, with my radio on in the background. The station transitioned to a new program. Although I couldn’t hear the words the announcer was speaking, I could hear his inflection and cadence as he ranted and raved. I recall thinking, “I must be hearing a documentary or news report on Hitler.”

        As I stepped out of the shower and began drying myself off, I realized that I was listening to Mr. Limbaugh, then—for me—a new phenomenon.

        I remarked on my observation, later that day, to my future wife.

        My good friend Mr. Kenney, should also—in the interest of fairness—direct his concern to the inanity propagated by misters Ailes, Murdoch, and Limbaugh.

        Best wishes,
        Alex Leidholdt

        • BrianKirwin

          Any guy who thinks of Hitler while in the shower has more problems than can be addressed here.

          • Not Harry F. Byrd

            You just crushed the soul of some poor programmer at the History Channel.

          • Alex70

            Dear Mr. Kirwin,

            That comment is representative of your intellect, sensibility, and of the quality of the contributions you make to Bearing Drift. Thinking yourself clever–but stuck in a perpetual adolescence–you’ve embarrassed yourself repeatedly on this blog.

            Yes, Mr. Kirwin, I have—after being prompted by Mr. Limbaugh’s ranting–thought of Hitler in the shower. And at various times, with water running over me, I’ve thought of the inverse square law, the perfect harmonies of Four Tops, the perfection of Claudia Cardinal, and whether I should have beaten that goofy kid up in the fourth grade.

            That’s it for me tonight.

            Best wishes,

          • DJRippert


            It was a joke and a pretty funny one at that.

          • Alex70

            Dear Mr. Kirwin,

            That comment is representative of your intellect, sensibility, and of the quality of the contributions you make to Bearing Drift. Thinking yourself clever–but stuck in a perpetual adolescence–you’ve embarrassed yourself repeatedly on this blog.

            Yes, Mr. Kirwin, I have—after being prompted by Mr. Limbaugh’s ranting–thought of Hitler in the shower. And at various times, with water running over me, I’ve thought of the inverse square law, the perfect harmonies of Four Tops, the perfection of Claudia Cardinal, and whether I should have beaten that goofy kid up in the fourth grade. (I shouldn’t have.)

            That’s it for me tonight.

            Best wishes,

        • Jim Portugul

          I doubt that your skill with a pen knows few equals.

          Many thanks for the sharing of your wisdom.

          • MD Russ

            “I doubt that your skill with a pen knows few equals.”

            That is a double negative, you know.

    • Not Harry F. Byrd

      Seriously, Jim, Nazi references? Tisk, tisk.

      • Jim Portugul

        Well, look at the picture for this article?

        Would you be so kind as to describe the origin of the salute being given?

        Is that not a Nazi salute being given? Has the picture been altered to make it look as if O’Reily is giving a Nazi salute?

        Perhaps you should ask the author of the blog his intentions?

        The use of the word “Fuhrer” simply means “leader” or “guide”, in German of course.

        But that salute?

        • Markos_Anderson

          “Has the picture been altered to make it look as if O’Reily is giving a Nazi salute?”

          No, that’s Keith Olbermann giving the Nazi salute covering his face with O’Reilly’s back in 2006.

        • MD Russ


          I suggest that you Google “Godwin’s Law” before making any more Nazi allusions.

  • Not Harry F. Byrd

    Once upon a time, long long ago, Chris Matthews was actually appointment viewing for me. There was a time when he was actually somewhat reasonable (late 90’s early 2000’s maybe). Hell, there was a period when he almost seemed to lean right, mainly out of hatred for Bill Clinton. Matthews even claimed to have voted for George W. Bush in 2000. But the Bush Administration changed Chris. If ever there was a good example of BDS it would be Chris Matthews. He then fell in love with Barack Obama in a way I’m not sure I’ve seen of any other major media figure. From the Democratic primary on, the guy was unhinged.

    On MSNBC more generally, the network is overall unwatchable, but being the RINO dude I am, I admit I occasionally tune into Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow, mainly because I like seeing what the prevailing argument on the Left is. Also, I find many FOX programs to be unwatchable. You can only hear Mr. Great American Sean Hannity repeat so many warmed-over talking points before you’d rather listen to someone you don’t even agree with over the monotony. Morning Joe can also be rather enjoyable. No, it’s not right leaning, whatever Joe might claim, but there is definitely room for debate on that show, which is better than what you see on a lot of cable TV.

    And I also agree with the premise that MSNBC’s overall problems stem from the cultivation of Olbermann, a dude who was so over the top and so predictable that he annoyed even those who agreed with them (including his own co-workers).

  • I watch MSNBC in the morning. After around noon or so, it becomes unwatchable until Matthews gets on.

    • I will admit — I own a copy of Hardball. Matthews has slowly gone downhill… and of course, since I killed my TV, well… I don’t have to subject myself to MSNBC unless at the very utmost of need.

    • midwestconservative

      Depends on which Matthews you watch. The sober thoughtful, “perhaps Democrats are going about this wrong” or the spittle flying “Everybody south of the Mason-Dixon clearly wants to reinstate Slavery”

    • midwestconservative

      I actually liked the Cycle a little when S.E. Cupp was on and Kornacki, not so much now with Huntsman, and Toure’ and Crystal Ball are unwatchable.
      4:00 PM was also pretty brutal.
      Morning Joe can be okay, depending on who’s the guest.

  • Chip Tarbutton

    I always chuckle a bit when the left throws out the Hitler bomb against Conservatives. Hitler used concentration camps…so did FDR (although he didn’t mass murder the Japanese-Americans in said camps). Hitler believed in a tightly controlled state run economy (National SOCIALIST party was the NAZI party BTW. Read the Arms of Krupp by William Manchester for a good example of corporate cronyism) and was anti-Christian, pro-gun control and loved eugenics.
    Sounds a lot more like the left in our society than the right. Think about that in the shower some time.

  • John Ub

    Fluff. Must be a very slow news week when this is a topic.

    Fox News is the most watched news program over all the cable news networks combined. Conservative radio – Limbaugh, Levin, Hannity, Plante, etc is more listened to than any other talk radio. Makes one wonder where all these Conservatives get the time to watch all this TV and listen to all this Radio. Most of the rest of us are busy doing other things that are more productive than watching TV like spending time with our families.

    What often is most troublesome on all these stations is that debate is very limited to the time limit between ever increasing commercials and the invited experts (can we call them experts) are cut off before they make any real discussions points at all. Hannity is the poster child at this.

  • Jim Portugul

    For one to believe that either Fox or MSN
    BC, along with hate radio, are anything but gardens where hatred is grown for the other side is disturbing.

    For nationwide accurate weather, did hurricane Sandy not prove we need to get our weather forecasts from Europe?

    With Fox and MSNBC “entertainment”, do we now have to watch AL JAZZERA for news?

    Is any news business such as the one who owns Fox, that is reported to have paid two ex-employee’s over $25 million dollars in hush money to be believed?

    To the best of my knowledge, MSNBC has not paid any hush money.

    George Bush showed us what he and his party are all about when the Republican Party “Fuhrer” was invited to the White House just as Bush was ending a Presidency that did more damage to the middle-class than any in history.

    The damage Bush did to the middle-class may only be equaled by the damage he and his party “Fuhrer” have done to their own Party.

    For the author to blog against MSNBC, and one of it’s anchors who left years ago, is nothing but preaching to his own parties choir. Why don’t you take your message on the road Mr. Kenny?

    It also shows his intense fear and hatred of Olbermann and MSNBC. Is not this fear and hatred being generated by the believing of his own party propaganda?

    What do these attacks on “us ” do other than justify our understanding of the Right, and provide fuel and motivation to walk into a voting booth and vote Democrat?

    If someone has a better word than “Fuhrer” to describe their Parties hate radio leader, I would like to hear it?
    The tone, the false promises, the lies, the constant attacks over and over on one segment of society? A better word simply cannot be found.

    • Markos_Anderson

      “The tone, the false promises, the lies, the constant attacks over and
      over on one segment of society? A better word simply cannot be found.”

      Sorry, your side goes after babies with Down’s syndrome.
      Your side wants to defecate into Sarah Palin’s mouth.
      Your side cheered when 9/11 happened.

      Evil perfectly describes the Far Left.

  • DJRippert

    OK. Into the abyss. I have routinely written articles for BaconsRebellion. Jim Bacon runs the show over there and he solicits authors from all sides of the political spectrum. This year I decided to start posting comments on both BearingDrift and BlueVirginia. I thought they represented the two best blogs on the right and on the left.

    The simple truth is that BearingDrift is much more tolerant of dissenting opinions than BlueVirginia. If Jim Portugul had an alter-ego who was as conservative as Mr. Portugal is progressive his alter-ego would be banned from BlueVirginia.

    Now, I don’t begrudge any blog-master from running his or her blog however they choose. The guys here at BearingDrift have their approach, the folks at BlueVirginia have theirs.

    Now, let’s move into the comments section. Here. the conservatives tend to get the AWOR award (Angry WithOut Reason). Lots of personal insults. Lots of venom. Almost always from behind a pseudonym. The progressive commenters tend to be more dismissive and less prone to enter into full fledged hissy fits.

    Finally, I have come to conclude that BearingDrift is probably closer to BaconsRebellion in tolerance. BlueVirginia would be better compared with BVBL (Black Velvet Bruce Li). Some at BlueVirginia may have started to wonder if they are becoming too much of an echo chamber. Recently, Andy Schmookler, a very progressive fellow, reposted an Op-Ed entitled, “Would You Want to Know? A Question for Republican Supporters”. In this posting Mr. Schmookler specifically solicits conservative feedback. Hopefully, this is the start of a more open dialogue over at BlueVirginia.

    I hope you guys at BearingDrift keep up the good work. I appreciate reading the conservative perspective.

    • MD Russ


      I must agree with you whole-heartedly. But you need to stratify the AWOR conservatives from those on BD who do not belong to the Straitjacket Caucus. Most of the contributers here post reasonable comments without being insulting and argumentative. Others, not so–and they know who they are. Like Lowell Feld and the other managers at Blue Virginia (are there any?) they cannot tolerate a differing point of view. But at Bearing Drift they can show their ass at will and no one gets banned.

      • Jim Portugul

        How productive would it be for a Party to claim to be Pro-Constitution, and yet ban someone for a “Free Speech” infraction?

      • DJRippert


        In reality, the venomous comments on blogs from the right and the left are reasonably rare. Most comments are just fine. However, it remains my observation that conservative blogs has a slightly higher prevalence of hostile comments than progressive blogs.

        The blog masters at some progressive blogs do seem very focused on attracting readers who almost totally agree with them. That’s a shame since there are many areas of commonality between conservatives and progressives that could be explored if people just took down their rhetoric a notch.

        • Warmac9999

          I suspect you have never talked to a conservative who blogs on the Huffington post. I ran an experiment for about a year on that site and actually became a pundit. Nevertheless, I was subject to constant vulgarities, constant censorship, and now banishment because I refuse to comply with their latest signs-up tactics which would expose me to further vitriol.

          You come to this site and are generally treated civilly even though you do not support this community.

          • DJRippert

            I was focused on Virginia – centric blogs with my comments. I generally don’t bother commenting on national blogs. Sometimes I read the articles but I rarely read the comments or post comments. The Huffington Post is the online equivalent of MSNBC. However, there are plenty of national conservative blogs where the commentary runs from insulting to openly racist.

            I am treated civilly on this blog and have never stated otherwise. There has been the occasional vulgarity hurled my way on this site but it is the rare exception rather than the rule. However, the same cannot be said of another conservative blog – BVBL.Net. That blog is more an echo chamber for the right than BlueVirginia is an acho chamber for the left. And that’s a shame because BVBL.Net is one of the few blogs that makes a concerted effort to cover local politics in Northern Virginia. Like other blogs, I read the articles but don’t generally read the comments or post comments.

            As for supporting “this community” – you might be surprised. I vote for Republican candidates about 2/3 of the time. I voted against Obama twice. I did vote for Terry McAuliffe this year but I voted for Bob McDonnell in 2009.

            Interestingly, the folks over at BlueVirginia don’t feel that I support their community either. At this very moment I am engaged in a civil debate with two of the regular authors on that blog regarding what, if any, actions should be taken in Virginia in 2014 regarding global climate change. Basically, I want less and they want more.

          • MD Russ


            You sound a lot like me, a confused mushy middle voter as I have been described right on this blog, or an independent thinker who carefully evaluates the issues on their own merits instead of according to some party-line checklist. Good for you.

            BTW, if anyone thinks that the conservatives have a monopoly on vitriolic hatred, then cruise on over to Blue Virginia and read Andy Schmookler’s latest tirade about how Obama hasn’t been enough of a bully and beaten up the mean, nasty Republicans who are only seeking to destroy our democracy because of greed, self-interest and to protect the evil corporations.


        • MD Russ


          I believe that the reason you see more hostile comments on the conservative blogs such as BD than on the liberal blogs is because as soon as a hostile comment is posted on a liberal blog it gets deleted and the commenter banned. That is certainly the case at Blue Virginia. BTW, I refuse to use the term “progressive” to describe a liberal. That is the weasel-word equivalent of calling gun control “gun safety.” And if the liberals find the term liberal offensive or misleading, then perhaps they should consider dropping the usage of wingnuts and worse to describe conservatives.

      • Tis true… we have a very high latitude for people who “show their ass” in the comments section — especially if they are willing to put their name behind it.

        The further away you get from ownership, the less the trolls are tolerated.

        As for diversity of opinion here, we certainly run the gambit from conservative to libertarian to moderate, from fiscal and social conservatives to Tea Party conservatives to even tolerating some of my more “Catholic social justice” moments.

        It’s a wide net. One that I really don’t see on many progressive/liberal blogs anywhere. Daily Kos? Blue Virginia? it’s not there… heck, you see more variety at NRO and at First Things in the articles than you do in the comments section on many left-leaning blogs. A good sign for the future, IMO.

        • DJRippert

          No sooner do I write my comment then you apparently ban comments from Jim Portugul. It’s certainly your blog and you can do as you wish. However, in my mind the banning of all comments from Jim Portugul was a bit extreme. Let me say that Mr. Portugul may have posted some comments that I didn’t read which were offensive. The comments of Jim Portugul which I did read were often hyperbolic but never patently offensive. I urge you to reconsider the ban or, alternately, describe the situations which cause you to take this action.

    • Jim Portugul

      Frankly, I consider myself to be a good candidate for the most conservative person to comment in Bearing Drift.

      Now, if you consider Bush 43, John Chichester, Bob McDonnell, Ken Cuccinnelli, hate radio, and many like them to be Conservatives, that is where we differ.

      Some of the proof? I believe that the Right, who consider themselves Conservative, also believe that the Left is anti- religion. Again and again the right attacks the Left on religion, does it not ?

      Then when the Pope uses what as far as I know are Biblical principals that come out against what the Right is trying to achieve, he is immediately attacked by the Right. The same Right that calls the Left anti-religion???

      Which one of you so called Conservatives. or. which one of the Right Wing leaders has supported what the Pope wrote?

      Now. the right claims to be against higher taxes, and bigger government. There is simply no proof that is even remotely true .
      Bush 43, Bob McDonnell, John Chichester, Speaker Howell, and many other Republicans are all responsible for massive increases in the size of government, and massive tax increases.

      Your definition of a Conservative is far different than mine. I could easily tell you what your definition is, but what good would it do?

      If you throw your Pope under the bus with vicious attacks for telling you the truth, then certainly you are not going to listen to me. Or. anyone else.

  • ghostofteddalton

    Eh, let’s be honest…..the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times do a good job of presenting the best voices on the right and left. If you read both of them, you’ll have plenty to think about. The WSJ Weekend is a really good publication and it’s balanced by the Sunday Times.

    Talk radio, cable news, etc…….is just preaching to the choir. The only show that is bearable (and most of the time it is not) is Maddow’s and that’s only b/c she can be clever/funny on occasion. The rest of them are simply ideologues. In earlier times, when he was on CNN, Glenn Beck used to be a little more like Maddow and could mix in some funny lines. As time’s progressed, he’s simply gotten more and more ideological and lost a lot of his comedic touch.

  • midwestconservative

    Shaun, not to be picky, but it’s Cooke, not Cook.
    Charlie Cooke is the NRO writer
    Charlie Cook is the Political Analyst.

  • Pingback: Virginia Political Blogs | Foggy Bottom Line()

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.