The folks at MSNBC are for some reason still under the impression that they are anything but a far less successful liberal alternative to Fox News.
The former channel's president, Phil Griffin, tried to perpetuate that delusion in a blog post by New York Times media blogger Brian Stelter on Sunday. Griffin claimed that MSNBC, unlike Fox News, does not help guests who are political candidates solicit funds on air.
In fact, MSNBC talker Ed Schultz has done just that on multiple occasions. “Show me an example of us fund-raising,” Stelter quotes Griffin as saying. Perhaps he should have reviewed his own channel's coverage before making that challenge.
The exchange on Fox that spurred Stelter's report took place on an episode of Hannity last week. Host Sean Hannity had the following exchange with John Kasich, the Republican candidate for governor in Ohio:
KASICH: People can come on our website at KasichforOhio.com. Sunday night at 6:30. We're going to talk about the damage the Obama agenda has done to us. And if you have extra nickels or dimes please send it our way.
HANNITY: Well, I --
HANNITY: I want to put this -- put some emphasis on this because this is really important. Explain to people why -- we cannot afford to lose that race?
The usual suspects at various Soros subsidiaries were up in arms over the fundraising plug. Stelter's piece on cable news's role in the political process seems inspired by the exchange.
Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik claimed the incident "crosses the line as to what's acceptable for any news organization" and demanded that Fox "publicly put an end to such partisan on-air fund raising now." But Zurawik also penned a follow-up post contending that "Fox and MSNBC are exactly opposite sides of the same coin."
Zurawik has a firm grasp on what most critics - and Griffin himself - are either oblivious to or are willfully ignoring: MSNBC is just a less popular, liberal alternative to the Fox News Channel. Griffin is tossing stones inside a massive glass house. Liberals Fox-haters - ostensibly concerned with journalistic ethics, but who save no disdain for MSNBC - are, quite simply, hypocrites.
Here's an excerpt from the September 8 episode of the "Ed Show":
SCHULTZ: And finally tonight, the Kentucky State Senate race, well, it‘s neck and neck. Tea Party nut job Rand Paul could actually be a senator, a poll just out shows Rand Paul and democratic opponent Jack Conway are deadlocked at 46. Joining me now is Kentucky‘s attorney general and State Democratic nominee for Senate, Mr. Conway. What do you make of the poll? Good to have you with us tonight.
JACK CONWAY (D), KENTUCKY SENATE NOMINEE: Well, it‘s good to be with you this evening. Look, the race is a dead heat. And I‘m focused on putting Kentucky first and I‘m here fighting a bunch of special interest money that‘s coming through Karl Rove‘s American crossroads group. Then we had a great internet fund-raising bomb yesterday that raised about $300,000. So, if your viewers want to help us, they can go to Conwayfightfunds.com and help us fight back some of this Karl Rove money.
This, of course, is the same Ed Schultz who proposed that MSNBC's new slogan, "Lean Forward," be adopted as an official Democratic campaign line. And Conway was not the first "Ed Show" guest to solicit campaign contributions on air. Here's Alan Grayson on September 23:
That‘s why 50,000 people have come to the website, congressmanwithguts.com and made a contribution to our campaign.
And here's Grayson again, this time on the October 15 episode of the "Ed Show":
20 percent of all of the money that‘s been spent by these outside right-wing forces in the entire country has been spent against me.... But luckily for us, we‘ve had people come to our Web site, congressmanwithguts.com. Over 80,000 contributions so far -- 80,000 people have contributed to our campaign.
And in case you thought this was some special arrangement between Ed and his favorite legislator, here's Schultz talking with another Democratic congressional candidate, Justin Coussoule of Ohio, on October 4:
SCHULTZ: I say tonight that the DNC needs to filter money into Justin Coussoule‘s race to go after John Boehner. The Republicans have done a great job taking down leaders in the past like Tom Daschle. They got a lot of national money in South Dakota on that one. Thune beat him. I don‘t know why, we don‘t do the same thing on our side, we‘ll going to have you on again, Mr. Coussoule. Good luck to you. What‘s your website?
COUSSOULE: Coussouleforcongress.com, Ed, or beatboehner.com, that will get you to us.
SCHULTZ: Beatboehner, I like that one. Good to have you with us.
Neither have Scultz's fundraising plugs been restricted just to the candidates themselves. Here's Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee on September 15:
I would point out that tens of thousands of people went to our Web site, boldprogressives.org, nearly 10,000 people contributed through our web site to [New Hampshire Democratic congressional candidate] Ann McLean Kuster and others signed up to do phone banking from their homes to key target voters.
These excerpts speak for themselves. Until Griffin terminates Ed Schultz's contract, he has absolutely no grounds to criticize Fox for supposedly boosting candidates' fundraising efforts.
As for the ubiquitous Fox-haters, their hypocrisy is nothing new. Still, watch for claims that Fox is unique in this respect. The narrative tends to trump the truth.