Friday, September 19, 2008

MSNBC-TV: Hurricane Ike wasn't the only Damage

by Brooks Jarosz

It’s really been shaping up to be an exciting election, as the political season is in full swing. The primary elections are over; nominees have been selected and vice presidential candidates have been picked. Over the next couple of months, I’ll be taking a look at one major commercial news network, MSNBC-TV. Discussions of the best, worst and most unique stories will be the focus.

This past week, Hurricane Ike dominated the headlines. The weather pounded the Gulf coast and caused many political campaign rally to be postponed or cancelled. This is similar to the delay of the Republican National Convention in the wake of Hurricane Gustov. Toward the end of last week, the thoughts on American’s minds went from weather to the economy. With Lehman Brothers, a Wall Street institution for more than 100 years, filing bankruptcy, all of the world markets became a little uneasy.

On a recent episode of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, the anchors interviewed John McCain on his view of the economy. To my surprise the anchors joked about the Bush Doctrine and how they wanted to quiz the presidential hopeful on Washington policy. This is a slam to ABC World News anchor, Charles Gibson, who asked questions surrounding the Bush Doctrine to vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. McCain looked tired and just chuckled. It’s a shame old habits of networks slamming networks still occurs, instead of spending time getting to know a candidate’s views.

Chuck Todd is the political director for NBC. He said that in the political world, the economy played a key role in pivoting the presidential campaign strategies. He cited McCain talking about how strong the economy was and later, how the Obama campaign formulated a negative ad using that speech. Some of Todd’s analysis was one sided and opinionated. For example, he mentioned Obama was simply trying to woo women as one of his top strategies. No proof or source to back up his claim was ever mentioned.

Later during a news break on MSNBC-TV, an anchor began talking about a story involving governor Sarah Palin. The picture was painted negatively as the Troopergate scandal was discussed. The anchor said, “Palin will not cooperate…” and repeatedly mentioned that if she has nothing to hide, why not cooperate? Keith Olberman also had a negative view of Palin, ranting and raving about here past. He brought up so-called “facts” where she admitted to improperly conducting a former campaign. Whether or not Sarah Palin is ready to lead as a vice president or president is not for me to assess and frankly journalists shouldn’t either.

It seemed as though MSNBC was slanting to the left throughout the week. Putting down aspects of the Republican campaign and showing the chances Obama has to win the election come November. What really made me upset was the bantering on “Morning Joe” just a couple days ago. Using a smart board, they had states that typically could be considered swing states. The anchors then chose which states they thought a particular candidate would win. Phrases like “I think…” “I’d like to see...” and “It will go..” were used. They picked Ohio and Virginia going to McCain and Wisconsin and Michigan going to Obama. How do we know? Is that even fair to predict? I think not.

Toward the end of the week, Hurricane Ike was making its way into the MidWest region of the states. Ohio was hit hard as much of the state had down trees and power lines. I lost cable television and internet access. I then relied on NPR for my news coverage. So for this week, the weather affected not only the news, but my news watching. In the weeks ahead there will be more debates, bantering and reporting going on and I plan to criticize and critique this exciting race to the White House!

1 comment:

Stine Eckert said...

It is interesting that you did a short word by word analysis. I think it's a great idea to look closer at the language used by journalists and what it implies. (Christina also pointed out in her post about CNN-TV coverage the use of journalism lingo and its possible affect on the audience.)