Here's a little blip I read at the doctors office today from Business Week that I thought was relevant to the whole discussion of Chris Mathews.
This could be the end of MSNBC as we know it. A decade after Microsoft (MSFT ) and NBC co-created the cable news service, General Electric's (GE ) NBC Universal unit announced on Dec. 23 that it's buying majority control from its partner. MSNBC runs third in the cable news race, behind Fox News (NWS ) and CNN, a (TWX )nd is neck and neck with CNN Headline News. NBC executives say that GE CEO Jeff Immelt has often compared MSNBC unfavorably to Fox's hard-edged cable channel and will press it to forge more of an identity. The deal marks Microsoft's second exit from the news business in a year. It sold e-zine Slate to Washington Post Co. (WPO ) in late 2004.
Does this explain Mathews' seemingly sudden hard turn right? Maybe, maybe not. (Microsoft's influence may have added a more left leaning bent to msnbc)
In focusing on this issue however, the above quote makes clear that GE is actively guiding the news organzition that it owns. Therefor, we need to be clear about the corperation we are dealing with. It is GE, not MSNBC that we are dealing with.
I belive in confronting Mathews and others in MSNBC, the community is doing the correct things, however two things could be emphasised more:
1) The fact that GE's own political interests likely trump any kind of market forces at work for a show like Hardball. In other words, a left leaning show may bring in more viewers, but if it goes against the greater GE political bent, it will not get aired.
2) the meta issue of media ownership needs to be addressed along with one off calls for people like Mathews to resign or appologize. We need to get back to at least 80's fairness rules, if not push for stronger measures in the long term like separating news organizations from non-news parent companies.