Alex Pareene asks a very good question!


We’ll ponder his question next week: We think Alex Pareene has asked a very good question.

“What’s wrong with MSNBC?” the headline atop his piece inquires. To read Pareene’s answer, click here.

We’ll examine his question next week. In the meantime:

For starters, you may not think there’s anything wrong with MSNBC. In the main, Pareene’s question was prompted by the channel’s ratings, which have flagged substantially since last autumn, especially when compared with Fox.

A channel could have superlative programs and mediocre or lousy ratings. That wouldn’t be our analysis of MSNBC. But we’ll put that off till next week.

For now, take a look at Pareene’s piece. We think he raised a very good question about an important new institution—an important new institution which we think is largely failing to serve.


  1. One reason it might have low ratings is that most people just don't find daily politics that interesting. Fox does well in the ratings, but they aren't doing news--they're doing ginned up phony stories that outrage their chosen audience in predictable ways MSNBC tries to do that too, but speaking for myself (and apparently a lot of other potential liberal viewers) I find that boring.

    Of course I also find Benghazi boring--I know someone has to wade through all the nonsense, but there just doesn't seem to be a story worth pursuing there. Embassies get attacked by terrorist groups sometimes, and sometimes the initial details are wrong, and sometimes there's spin.
    I find some of your own work boring, Bob--again, someone has to do it, but I just don't find the typical DC scandal interesting even if taken at face value. If it had really been true that the Obama Administration initially downplayed what happened at Benghazi, that'd be wrong, but in the grand scheme of things it seems like pretty small potatoes compared to torture, ginned-up excuses for war, drone assassinations and lies about civilian casualties and so forth. I know the Republicans are making mountains out of molehills and this matters because it might influence votes, but I don't have to watch TV shows about it.

    Now who at MSNBC actually talked about important issues, at least when he had his Saturday/Sunday 2 hour show? Chris Hayes. I don't watch the 1 hour version as much--from what little I've seen it's gotten more trivial, more focused on the daily nonsense in DC. Boring, in other words. You also think he does a crummy job. Probably so. He should be doing shows on subjects that interest him, not daily political crap that bores the hell out of most people.

  2. I was never a fan of special Ed, but he did supply plenty of red meat for the family hour. Taking him off the air kind of made the network look like the East coast snobs they're accused of being. By comparison, Chris Hayes gives the impression of being a know-it-all lecturing, hectoring 34-year-old brat. Ed brought us anger on behalf of the working class; Hayes is more like Rachel's sensitive male counterpart, more in tune with issues that give liberals a bad name among the masses, like men helping with housework.

    I agree with Anonymous. Chris's version of Up was better than All In has been. For reasons I can't quite put my finger on, the whole nighttime line up has grown stale of late. Three not exactly electrifying hosts sermonizing along party lines to an embarrassing degree aided by the usual gang of commentators, each of whom seems to have his own show in some other time slot (do these people have a home?). I can't help thinking this is what news would look like if a totalitarian government were in charge.

    I don't feel improved, edified, or educated, or even entertained after watching these shows. I feel indoctrinated. Propaganda slips into the unconscious that much more easily when the critical mind has been lulled by boredom and exhaustion.