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MSNBC, Lifted by War, Works to Keep Its Gains (Sorensen Admits CNN is leftist)
The Wall Street Journal ^ | April 21, 2003 | Joe Flint

Posted on 04/21/2003 9:05:37 AM PDT by Timesink

Edited on 04/22/2004 11:48:44 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

Perhaps the high point of cable-news channel MSNBC's war coverage came when a newspaper photo depicted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld working in front of a television tuned to the network. For an outlet whose small audience until recently seemed to comprise mainly the joke writers at "Saturday Night Live," who relished poking fun at the troubled channel, it was something of a validation.


(Excerpt) Read more at interactive.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cablenewsnetwork; cnn; eriksorensen; fox; foxnews; foxnewschannel; joescarborough; keitholbermann; msdnc; msnbc; nbc; nbcnews; televisedwar
I strongly disagree with the hoary old "there may not be enough viewers to support three news channels" canard. We could have TEN if they were programmed correctly. The only problem is that the channels usually haven't been programmed well at all, so people ignore them.
1 posted on 04/21/2003 9:05:37 AM PDT by Timesink
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: Timesink
I find MSNBC to be an acceptable alternative to FOX.
3 posted on 04/21/2003 9:12:35 AM PDT by Steve_Seattle
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To: StarFan; Dutchy; Gracey; Alamo-Girl; RottiBiz; lonevoice; bamabaseballmom; FoxGirl; Mr. Bob; ...
FoxFan ping!

Please FReepmail me if you want on or off my infrequent FoxFan list.

4 posted on 04/21/2003 9:13:04 AM PDT by nutmeg
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To: Timesink
The "Fading Story" graph tells a striking tale overlooked by Nielsen: Fox News retained 85% of its primetime viewers "after the war," compared to CNN's 49.3 and MSNBC's 47.1. Fox News more than doubled CNN's primetime viewers during the most recent period.
5 posted on 04/21/2003 9:13:27 AM PDT by Interesting Times
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To: Timesink
Where is Imus?
6 posted on 04/21/2003 9:14:00 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: HAL9000
Wasn't Imus on this morning? He was sick with pneumonia last week.
7 posted on 04/21/2003 9:15:52 AM PDT by aristeides
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To: stanz
FYI
8 posted on 04/21/2003 9:16:19 AM PDT by nutmeg
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To: Steve_Seattle
I find MSNBC to be an acceptable alternative to FOX.

I agree, in fact, I found their coverage to be better. I really enjoyed Bob Arnot and David Bloom. MSNBC's coverage was surprisingly good, without being "over the top" as I sometimes felt that Fox news was.

9 posted on 04/21/2003 9:16:25 AM PDT by Paradox
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To: Steve_Seattle
Me too. Scarborough is pretty much OK. And I think MSNBC's coverage in general has become less lib-baised. Beats the heck out of CNN.

Prairie
10 posted on 04/21/2003 9:16:48 AM PDT by prairiebreeze (My dad, a WW2 vet, always said "America's best and most loyal ally is....Britain". He was right.)
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To: Timesink
It really hurts to say this, but MSNBC generally did the best and most lively field reporting while Fox relied too much on studio chatter (and -- yikes -- Geraldo). Lester Holt was excellent much of the time whereas Shep Smith was off-puttingly hammy (and those cataracty eyes of his are weird).

MSNBC still let a bit of lefty editorialism leak in, but who would have thought they would be, basically, fair & balanced!

11 posted on 04/21/2003 9:17:49 AM PDT by dodger
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To: Paradox
Err, I meant thats I found MSNBC's coverage to _sometimes_ be better than Fox.
12 posted on 04/21/2003 9:17:55 AM PDT by Paradox
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To: HAL9000
Where is Imus?

I've been watching the trade papers, and haven't seen anything to indicate MSNBC is planning to permanently dump Imus. Perhaps later this week?

13 posted on 04/21/2003 9:21:02 AM PDT by Timesink
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To: Timesink
I prefer MSNBC to Fox.

Fox has too much opinion and not enough news. But at least unlike CNN or the NY Times, Fox is upfront that their fare is opinion. Fox likens its prime time schedule to the op/ed page of a newspaper. CNN and the NY Times claim that their opinion is "news".
14 posted on 04/21/2003 9:21:15 AM PDT by SolidSupplySide
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To: Paradox
I agree, in fact, I found their coverage to be better. I really enjoyed Bob Arnot and David Bloom. MSNBC's coverage was surprisingly good, without being "over the top" as I sometimes felt that Fox news was.

I still definitely prefer FNC, but MSNBC does pretty well. Those are my two TV news sources, and I avoid CNN and ABC News like the plague.

15 posted on 04/21/2003 9:21:17 AM PDT by Coop (God bless our troops!)
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To: dodger
I second your thoughts entirely. If Fox didn't have their embeddeds, especially Ollie North, I would have rarely watched them. MSNBC proved to be the best cable news network for "hard news".
16 posted on 04/21/2003 9:22:57 AM PDT by JmyBryan
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To: Timesink
I won't give Sorenson and MSNBC any slack.

http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030417.asp#2

MSNBC Chief Goes from Scorning Patriotic
Coverage to Hyping It

In a remarkable transformation, upon figuring out that appearing patriotic helps in the ratings, MSNBC chief Erik Sorenson has gone from disdaining pro-American patriotic programming to championing it.

In November of 2001, Sorenson grumbled that if you make “any misstep...you can get into trouble with these guys and have the Patriotism Police hunt you down." In a New York Times story he ridiculed those concerned about the tone of post-9/11 coverage: “These are hard jobs. Just getting the facts straight is monumentally difficult. We don't want to have to wonder if we are saluting properly. Was I supposed to use the three-fingered salute today?"
Jump ahead to Wednesday's New York Times this week and reporter Jim Rutenberg noted, the MRC's Rich Noyes observed, how MSNBC now “has patriotic flourishes throughout the day,” including “the regular screen presence of an American flag” and “an 'America's Bravest' studio wall shows snapshots of men and women serving in Iraq.” Sorenson acknowledged that he's realized that “after Sept. 11 the country wants more optimism and benefit of the doubt.”

Excerpts of the two New York Times stories:

-- November 7, 2001 story on coverage of the war on terrorism:

....Much of the criticism comes from a group of conservative media voices and outlets, including Rush Limbaugh's radio talk show, The New York Post's editorial page, The Drudge Report and some commentators on the Fox News Channel. Much of the information for their critiques has been assembled by a conservative media watchdog organization called the Media Research Center, which hires full-time monitors to watch the network newscasts.

These outlets have kept tabs on the media for some time and were on the opposite side of the White House for the Clinton presidency.

How their criticism will affect coverage of the war is an open question. But news executives at CNN, ABC and MSNBC said they were conscious of the criticism while making their day-to-day decisions about coverage.

“Any misstep and you can get into trouble with these guys and have the Patriotism Police hunt you down," said Erik Sorenson, president of MSNBC. "These are hard jobs. Just getting the facts straight is monumentally difficult. We don't want to have to wonder if we are saluting properly. Was I supposed to use the three-fingered salute today?"...

-- April 16, 2003, “Cable's War Coverage Suggests a New 'Fox Effect' on Television,” by Jim Rutenberg:

....MSNBC has patriotic flourishes throughout the day. Along with the regular screen presence of an American flag, Mr. Bush's portrait is featured on MSNBC's main set and an "America's Bravest" studio wall shows snapshots of men and women serving in Iraq.

Neal Shapiro, the NBC News president, said MSNBC hired Mr. Scarborough and Mr. Savage to add political equilibrium to its lineup of hosts. Before the war, Mr. Shapiro said, all of them -- Chris Matthews, Phil Donahue, Bill Press and Pat Buchanan -- opposed the war. Mr. Donahue's program was canceled in February.

"If you have a range of opinion that leaves out a whole part of the country," Mr. Shapiro said, "you're unintentionally sending a message that 'you are not welcome here.' "

Erik Sorenson, MSNBC's president, said it was trying to differentiate its report from what he called a mainstream style of automatic questioning of the government.

"After Sept. 11 the country wants more optimism and benefit of the doubt," Mr. Sorenson said. "It's about being positive as opposed to being negative. If it ends up negative, so be it. But a big criticism of the mainstream press is that the beginning point is negative: 'On Day 2, we're in a quagmire.' "

MSNBC's programming moves were welcomed by L. Brent Bozell III, founder of the Media Research Center, a conservative media analysis group. "What Fox is doing, and frankly what MSNBC is also declaring by its product, is that one can be unabashedly patriotic and be a good news journalist at the same
time," Mr. Bozell said.

END of Excerpt

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/16/international/worldspecial/16FOX.html


17 posted on 04/21/2003 9:25:35 AM PDT by JoJo Gunn (Help control the Leftist population. Have them spayed or neutered....)
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To: DigiLinus
CNN. All the lies and half-truths fit to print.
18 posted on 04/21/2003 9:31:53 AM PDT by RetiredArmy (We'll Kick Em in the Ass, it's the American Way! Toby Keith)
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To: dodger
I stumbled on MSNBC when I turned off Fox' coverage of the Challenger distaster in disgust..they were clowns that morning..and I've checked out some of their war coverage...it's been pretty good.....Scarborough it excellent....though Greta is really pulling in some huge ratings.......I'd suspect thatMSNBC's big bump in the ratings during the war came at CNN's expense..that's where they got the viewers from..not Fox..
19 posted on 04/21/2003 9:36:34 AM PDT by ken5050
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To: Steve_Seattle
I find MSNBC to be an acceptable alternative to FOX.

So do I.  CNN doesn't rate consideration, but when I tire
of watching the Fox talk crew, I try MSNBC .  Unfortunately
for MSNBC, I have grown so accustomed to the Fox folks
that I don't tire of them.
20 posted on 04/21/2003 9:59:36 AM PDT by gcruse (Saddam's last words. "I can see them. I can see 72.................VIRGILS???!!!?!?!")
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To: Timesink
I think MSNBC really came into their own during this war coverage. They really have found a pretty impartial balance to their news as well as a good balance between in studio punditry and in the field reporting. I think they had the best overall coverage during the war.

What was the story with Ashleigh Banfield? I never regarded her as a serious reporter or a particularly engaging personality. In fact, it always seemed to me that MSNBC's effort to promote her as some rising star seemed a bit contrived. I've noticed she's had a much lower profile lately, along with assignments with less gravitas. Was there a public falling out or something that I missed?

21 posted on 04/21/2003 10:14:27 AM PDT by tdadams
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To: Steve_Seattle
I find MSNBC to be an acceptable alternative to FOX.

True, but prior to the ascendency of Fox, MSNBC had lots of lefy commentators like Jonathon Alter, and Eric Alterman filling up air time. Fortunately the desire by GE to actually earn a profit on MSNBC has forced management to try to compete for the conservative viewers who have deserted the alphabet networks and CNN. I find it encouraging that MSNBC has given Joe Scarborough a slot opposite Greta Van Susteren.

22 posted on 04/21/2003 10:19:18 AM PDT by Paleo Conservative (Rest in pieces Saddam!)
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To: Interesting Times
The "Fading Story" graph tells a striking tale overlooked by Nielsen: Fox News retained 85% of its primetime viewers "after the war," compared to CNN's 49.3 and MSNBC's 47.1

That was my favorite thing as well. It confirms something I thought — and hoped — would happen... that wartime "channel flippers" who had never even seen Fox News before would think, "Wow! Where have these guys been?" and never go back to CNN.

Next thing we know, those folks will be showing up on Free Republic.

Every million helps :)


23 posted on 04/21/2003 10:31:16 AM PDT by Nick Danger (The liberals are slaughtering themselves at the gates of the newsroom)
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To: Timesink; Grampa Dave
The FNC/MSNBC competition may mark the future of cable news, both steadily sucking viewers away from ABCNNBCBS. ABC & CBS were especially hard hit recently and CNN will fail to sustain its Gulf War II numbers. Not surprisingly, MSNBC has benefitted by its partnership with NBC and could, if managed correctly, become the primary news outlet by combining the network and cable operation and sharing resources and personnel.

Since they finally recognized that conservative shows win the ratings (and therefore ad revenue) game, they bear watching. FNC had better not sit on its laurels. Their lineup isn't all that strong and to date, their competition has been willing to be a cluelessly and repulsively liberal mouthpiece of the New York Times. I think that's coming to an end with the NBC/MSNBC setup.
24 posted on 04/21/2003 10:59:16 AM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: DigiLinus
Keith Olberman:"I've really reformed, I'm not a complete jackass anymore."

Capy: Yes you are.

25 posted on 04/21/2003 11:05:32 AM PDT by capydick (The triumph of evil is short)
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To: George W. Bush
MSNBC may suck viewership away from Fox. The winner will be conservatism as non-lib channels proliferate. This is good news!!
26 posted on 04/21/2003 11:07:45 AM PDT by winner3000
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To: Timesink
CNN has someone in Syria, and it really seems when you listen to her, she is spouting propaganda as much as the CNN Iraq bureau was.

Eason Jordan has not changed a thing.

27 posted on 04/21/2003 11:09:35 AM PDT by Benrand
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To: George W. Bush
Make me wonder how much impact the New GE top management is having on NBC?
28 posted on 04/21/2003 11:10:44 AM PDT by Grampa Dave (Being a Monthly Donor to Free Republic is the Right Thing to do!)
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To: Timesink
MSNBC hopes to play off the perceptions that CNN bends leftward and Fox News rightward. "I want MSNBC to be known as the 'straight shooter' news channel," Mr. Sorensen says

Those in the "middle" generally get run over. Besides, the middle to liberal news stations means liberal. They will fail.

29 posted on 04/21/2003 11:12:36 AM PDT by 1Old Pro (The Dems are self-destructing before our eyes, How Great is That !)
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To: Timesink
I've been tuning to PMSNBC more often and think that had very decent war coverage. I don't much care for Olbermann's smarmy delivery, but Scarborough is a fairly fresh breath of air so far.
30 posted on 04/21/2003 11:16:12 AM PDT by Fred Mertz
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To: Steve_Seattle
I like MSNBC, too. But I'm not happy that they moved Hardball to the same time slot as Fox News Hour.

Matthews can be frustrating, but I consider him at least a "serious" democrat and he gets great guests. But, I'll miss his show if I have to choose between him and Brit.
31 posted on 04/21/2003 11:20:15 AM PDT by Timeout ("They have not led. We will."---George W. Bush, 2000 GOP convention)
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To: Benrand
Yes, and if you watch the CNN fn reports from that brit journalist 'catherwood' it seems the US can do no right, everything is a terrible crime and shame and the poor iraqis are suffering...

CNN back to old tricks.
32 posted on 04/21/2003 11:22:56 AM PDT by WOSG (All Hail The Free Republic of Iraq! God Bless our Troops!)
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To: Timesink
Bill O'Reilly wannabe Joe Scarborough has launched the 10-11 p.m. slot

Scarborough is better than O'Reillly.

33 posted on 04/21/2003 11:26:29 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: aristeides
Although they've covered it over the last couple of years with stories that he's fallen off horses, had pneumonia, and the like, Imus appears to me to have a chronic breathing problem that may be emphysema or something comparable. He seems genuinely ill and fragile health-wise, often needs oxygen close by, and his voice sounds weak and breathy. All signs of someone with a chronic breathing problem. Whatever it is, it seems to have either started or worsened a couple of years ago, just before the incident where he supposedly fell off a horse and had to be hospitalized for awhile.
34 posted on 04/21/2003 11:44:49 AM PDT by Wolfstar (Now to turn our attention to the reelection of a great President.)
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To: Steve_Seattle
Well ... Joe Scarborough is great - but I'd rather see the upbeat style of FOX any day.
35 posted on 04/21/2003 11:52:02 AM PDT by CyberAnt ( America - You Are The Greatest!!)
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To: dodger
Lester Holt was excellent much of the time whereas Shep Smith was off-puttingly hammy (and those cataracty eyes of his are weird).

I agree on Lester. Smith is so in love with his pretty-boy image he trips over the story and his own tongue. Disgust with him moved me over to MSNBC fairly often, even though their news and commentators were not as much to my liking. Fox should fire the wimp and hire Lester. Lester doesn't have to run over women in parking lots to prove his manhood.

36 posted on 04/21/2003 11:57:34 AM PDT by jimt (Is your church BATF approved?)
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To: Timeout
I've given up on Mathews. The last few times I've seen him, he doesn't even let the guest start answering the last question before he starts the next question, which is really Mathew's opinion with a question mark at the end.
37 posted on 04/21/2003 12:04:20 PM PDT by Bernard
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To: Timesink
I like quite a bit of what I see on MSNBC and also some of what I see on CNBC (e.g., Kudlow and Kramer (sp?)). My cable company has all 4 lined up. I tend to scan MSNBC, CNBC, (skip CNN), Fox to see who is talking about something that interests me at night. CNN is just awful.
38 posted on 04/21/2003 1:20:46 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Timesink
Keith Olbermann sucks
39 posted on 04/21/2003 1:50:11 PM PDT by orbitboy
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To: jimt; ken5050
I agree MSNBC mostly pulled from CCN for a brief bump, but Fox missed the mark more than Roger Ailes usually does. In any event, Shep lacks substance while Greta strikes me as little more than a goofy Scientologist who can read a teleprompter. One could make a passable jack-o-lantern from opalescent eyes & her serpentine mouth!
40 posted on 04/21/2003 7:40:48 PM PDT by dodger
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To: Timesink; capydick
Keith Olbermann: "I've really reformed, I'm not a complete jackass anymore."

"Anymore," Keith??

Actually it's a toss up as to who was the bigger obnoxious @sshole from ESPN -- Olbermann OR Craig Kilborn.

41 posted on 04/21/2003 8:03:10 PM PDT by F16Fighter (Democrats -- The Party of Stalin and Chiraq)
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To: Fred Mertz
"Scarborough is a fairly fresh breath of air so far."

He sure is, ain't he? The guy's no-holds barred, and if MSNBC gives him a chance, he'll be lights-out with liberal "guests."

42 posted on 04/21/2003 8:07:21 PM PDT by F16Fighter (Democrats -- The Party of Stalin and Chiraq)
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To: F16Fighter
Libs are experiencing the backlash of polarization they so loved to foment.
It's the ol' be careful what ya ask for syndrome, kicking in.
43 posted on 04/21/2003 8:12:26 PM PDT by ALS
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To: nutmeg
Thanks for the heads up!
44 posted on 04/21/2003 11:06:15 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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