The Occupy Wall Street protest is in its fifth day, and MSNBC has still not devoted a single prime time segment to it.
Last Saturday a protest began on Wall Street, but the three US cable news networks effectively blacked it out. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News did not even mention the protest that was happening right under their very noses. This behavior was something that was to be expected from the right wing Fox News and the now pseudo right wing CNN, but MSNBC also ignored an event that should be important to every American liberal and progressive.
MSNBC’s business model is predicated on being a 24 hour cable news network that doesn’t actually broadcast news 24 hours a day/7 days a week. The network closes shop at 10 PM Friday, and minus weekend morning programming like Chris Hayes’ new show Up, they broadcast nothing but repackaged Dateline episodes, true crime documentaries, and endless episodes of Lockup. They do this because the week end crime and criminal fest is a ratings winner. MSNBC actually wins many Saturday and Sunday time slots with their doc bloc programming.
It is a strategy that is great for the corporate bottom line, but terrible for news consumers.
Since MSNBC doesn’t work weekends, minus the above mentioned Chris Hayes, the network has a habit of not analyzing the previous weekend’s news events until Monday. With this in mind, I waited for somebody, anybody in MSNBC prime time to spend a little bit of their airtime talking about the Occupy Wall Street protests. On both Monday and Tuesday of this week, not a single segment was devoted to the protests. Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word couldn’t even spare a word for Occupy Wall Street. In fact, Glee’s Jane Lynch has gotten twice as much coverage from O’Donnell than the protests have.
The protest was mentioned on Monday’s Rachel Maddow Show, but not by Maddow herself. Guest Michael Moore mentioned the protest while discussing media bias with Maddow. (Maddow deservedly devoted her Tuesday show to the death of DADT. No other cable news show devoted as much attention to DADT as Rachel Maddow’s did, so her coverage made total sense).
What about middle class fighter Ed Schultz? Big Ed hangs his hat on a sort of working class blue collar populism, but when it comes to a protest about equality, fairness, and corruption on Wall Street, he has been unusually quiet. Instead of talking about the protest, Schultz has been devoted segments to Bill O’Reilly’s freak out over Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy.
Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Schultz each work for a corporate media giant and because of this fact they each offer a corporate sanitized of the left. Just as MSNBC didn’t break away from their Saturday Dateline/Lockup marathons to cover the Wisconsin protests live as they were happening, they are choosing to ignore the Occupy Wall Street protest. The MSNBC hosts may not be told what to cover, but there certainly exists a corporate cable news filter that decides what is and isn’t news.
For MSNBC and its corporate owners prime time progressivism is a brand not a commitment, and I wouldn’t count on the bosses at MSNBC to lean forward long enough to provide some prime time coverage of Occupy Wall Street anytime soon.
The corporate media blackout continues, but the protest goes on.