A reader writes:
Addressing your reader who compares MSNBC's lack of conservative voices to FNC, I think the difference is between an echo chamber and a propagandist.
It is one thing to not have guests of opposing viewpoints - the claim against MSNBC - but quite another to claim a balance the way FNC does. I'm sure FNC has finally stopped listing Dick Morris as a Democratic pollster on his chyron now, but they certainly did for years while he bashed Democrats mercilessly. The same is true of Pat Caddell and other Democrats who get airtime. These are not people like, say, you or David Frum, who identify as conservatives but will give honest critique. Most of the so-called liberals or Democrats that FNC brings on are people who loathe and abhor the Democratic party and presents them as counter-balance. If FNC just presented Republicans and conservatives exclusively - as MSNBC is accused of doing - it would be far less noxious than what it is doing now.
I really believe the revolt against MSNBC started when Chris Matthews embarrassed Michele Bachmann over her absurd comments about investigating members of Congress to determine whether they were pro-American. Matthews used to get more conservative guests than he does now, and I think that interview is the reason.
Rachel Maddow invited Rand Paul on and the interview went so badly that he is boycotting the network. And it wasn't because Maddow's interview was "gotcha journalism" or blatantly partisan; it was because Paul simply could not coherently explain why, in the 21st century, he still has problems with the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
You said of Maddow's show, "But the bias is pretty overwhelming nonetheless - and sometimes veers into suffocating smugness." Yes, she has strong opinions. So do you. She regularly invites people with contrary opinions to appear on her show for tough questions and debate. Isn't that exactly how it should be? People with strong, well-defined views who aren't afraid to engage with others? What you perceive as "bias" is the empty chair across from her caused by the cowardice of those with differing views. It's not she just trumpets her view while denying others the right to respond - you know, like not permitting comments on blog posts or something.
If "suffocating smugness" is bias, then so is preening self-righteousness.
Kind of tangential to the actual issue here, but I just want to say that I definitely agree with your description of Maddow. I'm pretty much in total agreement with her positions on many things, but I have a really hard time watching her show sometimes because of that smarmy, "I-can't-believe-how-stupid-these-people-are" attitude she gives off sometimes. I would expect you'll get some pushback on that statement, but there's at least one crazy-pinko-commie-leftist who totally agrees with you on that one.