Feature

Rachel Maddow and the news war

How MSNBC’s promotion of a liberal host changes the cable-news ratings fight with Fox and CNN

The partisan lines in cable news have “never been drawn” more neatly than they are now, said Brian Stelter in The New York Times. With the promotion of Air America radio host Rachel Maddow to a prime-time slot, MSNBC, home of Bush administration critic Keith Olbermann, is now a clear liberal foil to the conservative Fox News, and the independent-aiming CNN.

“I really like Maddow and have found her thoroughly compelling throughout this latest campaign season,” said Sacha Zimmerman in The New Republic’s The Plank blog, “but I am not so thrilled about this trend toward partisan networks and news.” The split on TV and the “near perfect red-blue divide nationwide” is only encouraging Americans to retreat more and more “to our comfortable trenches and refusing to acknowledge anything but spite, paranoia, and conspiracy theory when it comes to the other side.”

“The reaction to Maddow's show highlights just how suffocatingly narrow, and right-wing, the spectrum of mainstream political discourse in America is,” said Glenn Greenwald in Salon. Where was the outrage when MSNBC gave conservatives Joe Scarborough, Tucker Carlson, and Michael Savage microphones? Giving Maddow, who is one of the smartest commentators around, a chance to counter Fox News’ right-wing ideologues is not going to destroy the “principles of Journalism.”

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