Denying a fearful symmetry: We’ll be reviewing Chris Hayes’ new book all week. For that reason, we greedily read his interview with TPM’s David Taintor.
We were struck in a minor way by something Hayes said about his book. That said, we were gobsmacked by this Q-and-A:
TAINTOR (7/21/12): Do you feel MSNBC is moving closer to mirroring Fox News on the opposite side of an ideological scale?Is MSNBC moving closer to mirroring Fox? We’d say the obvious answer is yes.
HAYES: It’s very important that we’re clear about what it is that we find objectionable about Fox, or objectionable about the model. The first thing that I think is important is transparency. If you found out that a mainstream news anchor at a major network was secretly emailing with a political operative, scheming on how to best present their case, you would be furious. The reason is there’s fundamentally a fraud being done, there’s a betrayal. Someone’s saying, “I’m a neutral, good-faith arbiter of these things, when I’m not. I actually have skin in the game.” That’s the greatest betrayal. That’s the most objectionable thing about Fox, is its claims to neutrality. The whole “fair and balanced” thing. Because that is fundamentally a misleading way of advertising themselves. Fox is a conservative network. It’s more than that. It’s a partisan, Republican network. And I think a multiplicity of voices is great. So let there be a conservative network or a Republican identified network.
The other thing we have to realize is that there is an impossibility of any symmetry between Fox and MSNBC. And the reason is because of the two men who run the networks. Roger Ailes is a lifetime, hard-right, conservative ideologue and Republican partisan. He worked in politics. He helped get Nixon elected. This is his vision. If he wasn’t doing this, he probably would be doing something else that would be furthering those goals.
Our network is run by someone who worked in TV. And he wants to make a TV network that performs well, that gets viewers, that attracts advertisers, that lives up to certain standards. There’s such a big difference in that.
That doesn’t mean that MSNBC is “as bad as” Fox. It doesn’t mean it’s “just like” Fox. That said, even Fox has never pulled a scam any more egregious than the scam MS ran, for more than a month, with respect to the killing of Trayvon Martin. In our view, that was the horrible formal debut of a negative long-standing trend at The One True Liberal Channel.
In our view, a fearful symmetry took its debut as The One True Channel churned reams of disinformation. (Everyone agreed not to notice.)
Is MSNBC moving closer to “mirroring” Fox? To Hayes, the answer seems to be no. But good God! Look what he said:
To Hayes, there is “an impossibility of any symmetry between Fox and MSNBC.” Like you, we aren’t quite sure what that means. (Reason: We’re speakers of English.) But he seems to be denying any possibility that MSNBC could be anything like Fox.
Certainly, you can parse Hayes’ words to make them say something different; jargonized statements are like that. But in our view, you’re looking at some form of deep True Belief—if you believe Hayes really believes the remarkable thing he said.
Ailes is a former political operative; MSNBC’s unnamed head is not. This eliminates any possibility of symmetry—if you’re a 3-year-old child.
Do you believe Hayes believes whatever he said? If so, would that be a good thing?
Optional essay question: Compare and contrast these two statements:
The Fox News Channel is fair and balanced.Please answer with very long words in unfamiliar combinations.
There is an impossibility of any symmetry between Fox and MSNBC.