The FOX News – MSNBC Taste Test : Part II


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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48 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    I told you Maddow was good. You deserve many many drinks.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    You just like Maddow because she’s the first woman you’d seen in hours that doesn’t look like a car-show model.Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      It also doesn’t hurt that Rachel is smarter than all of the other five commentators together.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I think O’Reilly is far more intelligent and insightful than the character he plays, even if he can’t tell a president from a talking dog.Report

        • Avatar karl says:

          He certainly used to be. Even I watched his show occasionally back before 9/11/01 (after which he went off the rails) — it was entertaining and only moderately partisan.Report

      • Avatar Scott says:


        Sorry, Maddow’s participation in the silly “lean forward” propaganda campaign confirms to me that she isn’t that smart. She wears a hard hat and talks about big govt projects like dams when her liberal friends would never allow dams that big to be built today.Report

  3. Avatar tbar says:

    Not only is that sexist as hell, it’s borderline mouth breathing stupid too. Rachel and Tamron are the only good news people on MSNBC. That said, 24 hour news is a great reason to cancel cable. If only you could buy HBO online and skip subsidizing all that horseshit.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    What happened to Maddow’s segment five?Report

  5. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    In what might be my favorite pickup ever, this post just got tweeted by FOX Breaking News.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy says:


    What do you think would happen if Schultz and Hannity or O’Reilly were locked in an empty room together?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      They’d have a few drinks and chuckle about how as long as the rubes eat their stuff up, they’ll never have to get real jobs.Report

    • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

      Some years ago, I frequented a restaurant whose owner had a right-wing talk show on local radio. We used to (good-naturedly) argue about politics and culture; if the argument was particularly fruitful, he’d waive my bill.

      One day, he proudly introduced me to a “friend” of his–a man who was one of the prototypical right-wing commentators of my youth, with both a local (L.A.) and national reputation. We joined up for dinner, and I found, to my surprise, that this professional firebreather was funny, wry, erudite, and not at all dogmatic. He confessed that, in his real life, he would have to call himself a “Roosevelt liberal.”

      I was flabbergasted–when I was growing up, at the tail end of the Vietnam era, this man represented the fascist, reactionary right. I certainly didn’t expect to like the man. And I sure as hell didn’t expect him to be middle-of-the-road and nuanced in real life. I expressed my surprise.

      “There’s no market for middle-of-the-road,” he told me. “When I started my radio career, I could have done Left or I could have done Right. It seemed at the time that there were fewer conservatives on the radio, so I picked Right.”Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I’ve long theorized this to be the case. Savage might be the one I make an exception for, as he often seems generally unbalanced. Or he’s just that damn good at it. But that just might be me being overly optimistic.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          There’s a guy who’s gone now named Pete Franklin, who pretty much invented today’s version of sport talk radio. He was quite knowledgeable, and could have interesting, thought-provoking conversations about pretty much every sport you can name, but every so often he’d pick a fight with a caller and shout him down. And once a show, he’d pick a huge fight, shout the guy down, hang up on him, and cue the toilet sound effect to flush him away. This was always right before a commercial break, so clearly staged.

          When Savage started on as a local Bay Area radio, I got the same vibe from him. He was clearly opinionated — hated anything counter-culturish, didn’t like gays, but generally seemed rational, except when he went after a caller to “liven up the show”, generally right before a break. But the hysteria got to be more of his act, and by the time he poisoned his TV career I wondered whether the character had raken him over.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            By the way Mother Night is an unjustly neglected book.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            I mentioned this elsewhere, but it probably bears repeating…

            I once attended a taping of Stephen A. Smith’s television show. For those not in the know, Stephen A. Smith has made his living yelling about sports with his eyes bugging out of his head. He generally focuses on basketball, but offers opinion on all sports on various ESPN platforms. During the commercial breaks, Smith would take questions from the audience. And he was a COMPLETELY. DIFFERENT. PERSON. He was incredibly knowledgeable (which was always evident when you cut through the yelling), but was also nuanced and restrained and engaging and… it just became so clear what a shtick the yelling and the verbal stylings were. I remember thinking, “I would be twice as interested in this guy if he just acted like this the whole time.” Unfortunately, that’s not the case for most folks, who want the yelling and want the “personality”. I wouldn’t be shocked if this was not the case for most, if not all, of these guys and gals.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I actually have a story along similar lines. A guy high-profile enough that he got EDK’s attention once, though I think he’s still mostly local. Anyway, when he was a politician, I was a part of his brain trust. After his political career petered out, he took to the radio and became… unrecognizable. Completely.

        I can’t decide whether he’s just doing a persona or whether the little goblin has taken over.

        Have you seen The Last Supper (the 1995 one)? It involves a right-wing television personality of a similar ilk.

        (It has to be said, in some ways, the insincerity makes it worse.)Report

  7. Avatar Sharon Taysi says:

    Thanks for the interesting analysis. By the way, I am sure you meant “driver’s” license, not “diver’s”.Report

  8. Avatar b-psycho says:

    Geez, for a self-identified socialist Lawrence sure loves him some Obama…Report

  9. Avatar Michelle says:

    I don’t watch Rachel all that often anymore but she’s always struck me as head and shoulders above the rest of her ilk. She’s smart, funny, and passionate. She’s also quite civil when interviewing and debating folks with opposing opinions, which definitely goes against the cable news grain.

    I can watch Chris Matthews every now and again, but I’ve yet to make it through an hour of Ed, Lawrence, or Al Sharpton. Too shrill, too bombastic, and rarely informative.Report

  10. Avatar Anderson says:

    Just read both parts of this piece–super interesting, I enjoyed it. As someone who rarely frequents cable news (don’t even have MSNBC), it’s good to see I’m not missing much, Maddow notwithstanding. Although, all things considered, my ignorance is cold comfort given the high ratings these shows garner.

    I think it would be cool if you (or anybody else) did a similar exercise for the Sunday shows on Fox and MSNBC at some point. Both networks say they have serious news at this time and–again, as someone who doesn’t watch cable news–I have limited opinions. I liked the Chris Hayes bit about veterans that got alot of controversy a few weeks ago, though, thought it was refreshing to hear anything but the proverbial kowtowing.Report

  11. Avatar Rod says:

    So you compared three right-wing opinion shows against three left-wing opinion shows and discovered that… they’re opinionated? And mostly repetitious and boring? Coulda told ya that going in.

    What I would find interesting would be a comparison of their purported news segments. A criticism of Fox from the Left is that their news coverage is just an extension of their opinion shows. I don’t know if this is true and can’t do the research personally; I live on the road and don’t even have cable at home. On the other hand I’ve heard that their news division is actually pretty good when not covering political subjects.

    But that would require a more extensive data set; probably randomized sampling and proper coding for statistical analysis. No, I’m not sure how to do that either.Report

  12. Avatar James Vonder Haar says:

    Why is it such a breach of decorum to bring up racism when talking about voter restricton bills? Do poll taxes ring any bells for you? Literacy tests? Do you know how many whites stand be be disenfranchised by such bills, and how many of each minority group? Putting accusations of racism outside the bounds of respectable political commentary given this context is being willfully ignorant of history in order to claim the center and appear “open-minded” to both sides. It also does significant harm to our ability to address the racism that still plagues the body politic.Report

  13. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    So, is there a conservative on national TV or radio who is the equivalent of Maddow?Report

    • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

      Well, it’s not a complete parallel, but Joe Scarborough, also of MSNBC, is a conservative who provides a civil respectful forum for all viewpoints, and who “speaks the truth” even when it puts him in opposition to his own party.Report

  14. Avatar Maribou says:

    Huzzah! This was a hoot to read. Looking forward to Monday.Report

  15. Excellent analysis of both channels (I refuse to call cable channels “networks”). I’m a longtime MSNBC watcher, but I get the critiques of Big Eddy, he’s a bit of a blowhard. And if you didn’t take in the gist of his argument, it’s really his fault for his presentation style. Lawrence is a bit of an aquired taste, and is better some nights than others. But I adore Rachel Maddow, and have since her earliest national radio days. And I appreciate any article (and comments section) that isn’t going off on three topics: 1)”This guy, Rachel,” 2) “Madcow” or 3) any and all homophobic slurs. It is very, very rare on the internets these days to NOT see one or all three of those. Anyway, excellent job, and I feel for you, especially on Hannity.Report