NPR Insults MSNBC: 'Brian Williams Got Sent Back to the Minors'

MSNBC knows who listens to NPR. For years, they’ve advertised their programming on the NPR website. But in a new listing of “What Mattered in Media 2015,” NPR TV critic Eric Deggans dissed the Lean Forward Network. It was a big story when Brian Williams “got sent back to the minors,” Deggans summarized.

5: The year Brian Williams got sent back to the minors. It was the strangest fall of any TV anchor in modern memory. Williams lost his job as anchor of NBC Nightly News for allowing exaggerations told outside the program to seep into one of his reports for the newscast. But by the time NBC announced a plan to feature him on MSNBC after a six-month suspension, Williams had seen his image battered by stories alleging there were other exaggerations and that he had even once lobbied executives to take over the Tonight Show from a retiring Jay Leno. After steady backup Lester Holt barely missed a beat taking over Nightly News — becoming the first black man to solo anchor a network newscast — Williams' departure was more proof that newscasts often transcend the fortunes of those who lead them.

Like a media insider, Deggans didn’t use a stronger term than Williams “allowing exaggeration...into one of his reports.” Calling MSNBC “the minors” was much harsher. Deggans went extremely easy on the new late-night comics despite their unimpressive ratings so far:

No, CBS didn't hire a woman or person of color to lead its Late Show or Late Late Show after the departures of David Letterman and Craig Ferguson — that would have really been groundbreaking. But Colbert's absurdist, geeky goodwill and Corden's cheeky British charm have recharged CBS' [sic] late-night fortunes, even as the genre is increasingly dominated by viral stunts and games in lieu of compelling interviews.

“Recharged” CBS? The Hollywood Reporter wrapped up the year by noting Colbert even lost in the ratings to Seth Meyers on NBC an hour later than his program. Deggans also gushed over “glorious glimpses” of non-whiteness on the flailing shows replacing the liberal darlings Colbert and Jon Stewart at Comedy Central:

At Comedy Central, Wilmore's Nightly Show and Noah's Daily Show are still works in progress, slowly figuring out how to lampoon the day's news in ways that best showcase the new hosts — two black men making late-night history with very different approaches. They are pioneering new voices that give us glorious glimpses of a late-night landscape no longer dominated so completely by white male sensibilities.

Deggans rightly began the list with Trump overcoverage.

It wasn't until Trump advocated halting immigration by Muslims that increasing numbers of media outlets realized how badly this imbalance of coverage has underserved the public. Now, outlets and reporters disparate as the website BuzzFeed and NBC icon Tom Brokaw have criticized Trump more directly, even as their reports added to the coverage imbalance. All this, before even considering the ways such actions help mainstream Trump's stereotyping, prejudice and misinformation. My hope for 2016 is that news outlets break their addiction to covering every outrageous thing Trump says and spend a little more time telling us about the other people running for president.

They're probably going to need an actual election result to make that turn.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis