I hate having to agree with Fox Opinion Channel personality Megyn Kelly, but I can't dispute her point about the bizarre segment on the February 8 edition of MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry, in which Harris-Perry actually asked outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder to quack like a duck.
Granted, MSNBC's weekend programming hasn't been the same since Chris Hayes left Up in 2013 to host his weeknight broadcast All In, but this segment was just too daffy. Holder, who answered graciously nonetheless, seemed to know that something had gone off the rails; while responding to Harris-Perry, he seemed to be second-guessing his decision to participate in the interview.
Reportedly, there has been a lot of second-guessing at the network, and it's not hard to understand why. MSNBC has a credibility problem --- though its not about ducks or even Brian Williams --- but a segment on the February 9 edition of The Ed Show unintentionally highlighted its magnitude...
In that segment, host Ed Schultz discussed President Obama's remarks in a recent interview with Matthew Yglesias of Vox, in which Obama observed that the press tends to give the climate issue short shrift, while obsessing over issues such as terrorism.
Schultz, Ring of Fire radio host and attorney Mike Papantonio, League of Conservation Voters Senior VP for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld and conservation biologist Reese Halter noted that the mainstream media had indeed been negligent about covering the climate crisis, with Papantonio specifically citing the role of the Fox Opinion Channel in warping the climate conversation.
The problem with the segment was that one could not watch it without remembering that MSNBC is:
- the same network that gives former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL) and his colleagues fifteen hours a week to praise the Koch Brothers as noble players on the American political stage, and spew disinformation about climate science;
- the same network that provided little, if any, coverage of the critically important 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru (despite doing an adequate job of covering earlier conferences, such as the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark and the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa);
- the same network that openly acknowledges receiving sponsorship from ExxonMobil for its online sibling, Shift by MSNBC, sponsorship that raises obvious questions about the climate-related topics that are not covered on Shift;
- the same network whose evening host, Lawrence O'Donnell, lavished praise on David Koch for his donations to New York's Hospital for Special Surgery in a June 2014 broadcast, not acknowledging the reality that Koch puts people in hospitals --- and morgues --- due to his carbon pollution and extensive efforts to stop federal and state regulation of the same;
- the same network that aired a special, hosted by Hayes, about the machinations of the climate-denier cabal in August 2013...and then kept the special in hiding for weeks, before finally making it available online in a format of questionable convenience;
- the same network that, along with it's sister network NBC, played a "key role" in disinforming Americans about Iraq during the run-up to our disastrous war for oil there;
- and, of course, the same network that horribly mistreated Phil Donahue and Ashleigh Banfield when they raised questions about that war for oil.
As great as MSNBC hosts Hayes, Schultz, Rachel Maddow and Alex Wagner are on the climate issue, it's hard to deny that in many respects, MSNBC has itself ducked its journalistic obligation to provide comprehensive coverage of the most significant issue of our time, presumably due to concerns about offending fossil-fuel advertisers. The Fox Opinion Channel has certainly poisoned the waters of scientific discussion, but MSNBC also deserves criticism for not giving the climate crisis top billing.
D.R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer and a former contributor to the conservative website Human Events Online. He has also written for the Washington Monthly, Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe Magazine, ClimateCrocks.com and FrumForum.com, among others. In addition, he hosted a Blog Talk Radio program, The Notes, from August 2009 to June, 2010, and served as a co-host of On the Green Front with Betsy Rosenberg on the Progressive Radio Network from August 2011 to March 2014. Currently, he is a contributor to the Climate Minute and Climate Notes podcasts for the Massachusetts Climate Action Network. You can follow him on Twitter here: @DRTucker.