Friday, July 31, 2015

Throwing Softballs

For the past two decades, MSNBC has played off Fox News with a decidedly liberal format.  Yes, they've had Joe Scarborough ever since 2003, but he was often critical of his fellow Republicans as well, jibing them for their slip-ups and pitfalls.  Unfortunately, he has become every bit as dogmatic as his conservative brethren in recent years, especially now that he contemplates running for Marco Rubio's vacated Senate seat.  For that matter, so has MSNBC.  Watching Chris Matthews become increasingly conservative in his opinions is a very sad indicator of this network, which has long relied on him as its anchor.

Recently, Matthews had Ted Cruz on his show, and pitched nothing but softballs, allowing Cruz free reign to peddle his book with nary a challenge.  Last night, Chris asked Debbie Wasserman Schultz to explain the difference between a Democrat and Socialist, placing Bernie Sanders into the socialist camp.  The conservative media has run with this interview as they have many Matthews clips as of late.

One of the few liberal talk show hosts they had left has been dumped in favor of bringing Chuck Todd on board, who is one of those so called "moderates" who leans to the right on almost every issue.  Bernie Sanders, among many others, was disappointed with the cancellation of The Ed Show, as it cut one of the few honest liberal voices left on mainstream television.

I suppose we can look at this as just a matter of ratings, as this is what drives television networks.  However, the question then becomes how much of our politics is shaped by corporate decision making and here neither the Democratic nor Republican party is exempt.  MSNBC acts as a surrogate to Corporate America just as much as Fox News does, and Chris Matthews is obviously no exception.

Rachel Maddow tries to keep the liberal face of MSNBC, but she comes across as extremely pedantic with very little humor.  It is very hard for me to make it through one of her episodes.  However, she continues to do well in the ratings, so Comcast keeps her in the line up.  It may turn out that she is the lone remaining liberal voice on MSNBC.

Making matters worse is that Jon Stewart will be leaving The Daily Show on August 6.  We lost Stephen Colbert last year.  The new faces have yet to generate much attention on Comedy Channel.  The one bright spot is John Oliver on HBO, whose weekly show has become a big hit among liberals.

Of course, Jon loved going after his friends at MSNBC almost as much as he did those at Fox.  He could be particularly hard on Chris Matthews.  John Oliver has also had his fun with Matthews, mocking the MSNBC pundit's appalling record as political prognosticator.

Over the years, Chris Matthews has gotten very little right and no longer seems to be in step with what is going on in the Democratic Party.  Like so many who have moved to the center politically over the years, he has lost touch with the roots of the Democratic Party, which is exactly what Bernie Sanders is trying to revive.  Ever since Bill Clinton, the DNP has promoted itself as a pragmatic political party, filled with neo-liberals who in most cases look very little different from their neo-conservative counterparts.  Both represent corporate interests and rely equally on Super PACS to fund national campaigns.

With few television outlets available to liberals, they have taken to the Internet to get their message out.  Granted, sometimes it can come across as painfully naive, but at least it speaks of the once proud progressive movement that was the Democratic Party.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz shouldn't be having to defend her party's "socialist" roots.  She should be having to explain why the Democratic Party no longer is seen as particularly progressive.  But, of course, Chris is not the one to ask that question.

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