I’ve had an epiphany lately. A few months back, MSNBC honcho Phil Griffin declared that MSNBC is no longer a breaking news channel. The MS used to stand for “Microsoft,” but it’s only vestigial now, as the partnership went away years ago. The original idea of MSNBC was to use the latest technology to enable its reporters to break news and to enable its viewers to get access to that news more quickly. But it’s clearly not about either thing anymore.
So if it’s not about taking advantage of technology to break news, what is MSNBC?
I submit that MSNBC is the left’s version of religious TV.
Religious TV channels don’t exist to entertain or really inform or break news. They don’t really exist to challenge the beliefs of their viewers. Think slick-haired televangelist here — what does he do with his broadcast time?
There’s good religious TV and bad religious TV, so I’m not lumping them all together. Yesterday’s anal jihad post was a product of bad religious TV. When Rev. Billy Graham conducts his televised crusades, he is leading the very best of religious TV. Just so no one mistakes what I’m saying here.
Religious TV exists to exhort the faithful, spread the faith, and to raise money to keep it all on the air. Depending on the figures involved, those priorities can be flipped around. Billy Graham is definitely on the “spread the faith” side and has conducted himself honorably on and off the air for decades. Others over the years have pursued less holy ends, and in the Holy Land, religious TV includes everything from ridiculous copyright infringement to training children how to murder Jews and infidels. Sometimes, both of those happen in the same show.
Now look at MSNBC. Fundraising really isn’t its goal, as it’s a loss leader for the massive Comcast communications empire. So what’s its purpose?
MSNBC doesn’t break news, but it does make news, primarily by giving leftwingers messages to inhale, interpret, and impart to others. Such is the case in this segment, in which the network’s faithful gather ’round to come up with a canonical account of Barack Obama’s sojourn to Africa.
Mediaite gives us a play-by-play, the gist of which is that criticizing Obama’s behavior likens him to the “stereotypical oversexed black man,” while noting the first lady’s apparent scowl plays into “stereotypical” “angry black woman” images.
Most just thought the whole thing was unbecoming of a president of the United States, for the narcissism, the juvenile behavior, and for the playfulness at a funeral. Five year olds get scolded for playing around at funerals. Had that been Bill and Hillary Clinton, well, the photo would still have got a reaction. It just would have been a very different reaction. Swap in the Bushes, and media including MSNBC would still be bringing that photo up 20 years from now. If Andrea Mitchell’s staff got ahold of it, they would have cropped the photo to somehow smear Mitt Romney with it.
But back to MSNBC’s reaction. Does anyone there challenge any of the ridiculous assertions they’re leveling at negative reactions to POTUS’ funereal selfie? Do they just mock the photo for its own sake? Do they just report the photo because it’s making news?
No, here’s what they do. They take turns one-upping each other on the I’m-a-more-faithful-leftist-than-you scale. These segments are like the competitive memory verse drills we used to do as Baptist kids, only in our case, we were actually learning something useful as we looked things up and memorized them. MSNBC’s lights are neither there to learn nor to instruct. They’re there to buoy the faithful and give them verses about their messiah to spread. They’re doing what much of religious TV does.
Now it may seem far-fetched that MSNBC is religious TV for leftists. Until you take a glance at its primetime lineup and looky there, the network even has its own featured preacher.