Our Boss Is Great! How MSNBC Covered Comcast Merger

MSNBC-TimeWarner-ComcastThe news that cable giant Comcast would swallow up  Time Warner Cable, its largest competitor, was big news almost everywhere. But not on Comcast-owned MSNBC

According to a  search of the Nexis news database–which captures much, but not all, of the channel’s programming–the big news was only mentioned once in passing, a February 13 CNBC Market Wrap newsbreak on the Ed Show

But it wasn’t completely ignored.  The February 13 broadcast of Morning Joe featured both sides–meaning the CEO of Comcast and the CEO of  Time Warner Cable.

The news segment was more PR than journalism, with hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough offering up softballs. Scarborough actually prefaced one question by  saying, “It’ll sound like a softball question”; his question to Comcast‘s Brian Roberts was, ‘”Comcast seems to be doing everything right over the past four or five years.” Brzezinski closed the segment by congratulating the CEOs. 

The merger also came up during a brief chat with Scarborough and business pundit Donny Deutsch. “We know Brian,” Scarborough explained.”We get our paychecks from Comcast. Obviously we’re not sort of cool and detached from this news.”

He added:

Even if I weren’t working here…I would be saying, “It’s a pretty stunning story about how successful Comcast is right now.”

Deutsch concurred: “Everything they’ve done is right.”

It’s hard to know what’s worse: Ignoring this rather major news story, or treating it as an occasion to flatter your boss. 

Interestingly, CNN covered the merger news pretty widely. (CNN used to be part of the same conglomerate as Time Warner Cable, before Time Warner spun off its cable operations into a separate company.)  CNN‘s media show Reliable Sources (2/16/14) featured Free Press CEO Craig Aaron,  an outspoken critic of the proposed merger. CNN host Brian Stelter added: “Now, Comcast, we asked them to come on this week–they declined.”

Make sense–when they could choose to appear on a much friendlier cable channel. 




About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.