Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Post About Media Matters

No, I'm not very good at coming up with titles, am I? Anyway, I got an e-mail from Media Matters for America asking me to sign a petition to MSNBC's president, Steve Capus, telling him to basically do something about the sexist statements that have been made lately. As much as I hate sexist statements (especially when the apology for said sexist statements is used in an advertisement), I'm not going to sign this petition. This is some of what Media Matters said to persuade people to sign their petition:

During the past year, three MSNBC commentators have been suspended, reprimanded, fired, or forced to apologize for their sexist and/or racist comments . . . The pattern of sexism at MSNBC doesn't stop there. Last year MSNBC canceled its simulcast of host Don Imus' show for his racist and sexist comments targeting the Rutgers women's basketball players. It was only after a widespread outcry by individuals, employees of the network, and many organizations, including Media Matters, that the network took action.

MSNBC did the right thing by holding Don Imus, Chris Matthews, and David Shuster accountable for their statements. Media Matters even claims some responsibility for these small victories.

But am I the only one who thinks that MSNBC is being held to a higher standard than other news outlets, like FOX News and CNN? When were Bill O'Reilly, John Gibson, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck suspended or forced to apologize on air for any of their disgusting comments? What about Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Michelle Malkin? I know that Media Matters spends plenty of time exposing these commentators, but these commentators are never held accountable by their networks' presidents, they are still contaminating our airwaves, and I'm not flooded with e-mails from Media Matters asking to sign petitions about firing them. I think that's the difference between media outlets who take responsibility for what their analysts and reporters say and media outlets who don't. MSNBC is at the very least succumbing to the pressure from viewers, Media Matters, and advertisers by disciplining those who do the wrong thing.

Media Matters, however, wants us to tell MSNBC's president to make sure derrogatory language is never used on the network, which is a promise no one can make. Nobody, not even the Media Matters staff, can promise to completely censor their language. Making this language rare and making sure some action is taken when it happens is the only promise anyone can make. Media Matters isn't asking for too much. They are asking for the impossible.

I can only speculate on why Media Matters is asking more of MSNBC than of other networks. It could be to be fair, that they are not only trying to censor hate speech by conservatives. Of course, hate speech doesn't show party lines, so everyone should be held accountable. However, how one responds to hate speech does cross party lines: Moderates and liberals take responsibility, and conservatives cash checks. Or, because MSNBC has listened to Media Matters in the past, MSNBC might again listen to Media Matters, even their demands are impossible to achieve. Either way, I don't think Media Matters is being fair.


Erin said...

Thanks for putting to words something I've been thinking for some time now. Even though I'm still waiting for someone to point out that "uber liberal" Keith Olbermann has like never gone a day in his life without using the word "slut" on the air.

But then seriously, I turn on CNN or Fox and their political coverage is like the day the Idiot Circus came to town so clearly MSNBC has good producers/station managers at work.

FEMily! said...

I never heard Keith Olbermann say "slut." I only watched him on Countdown, but perhaps he has said it when he does the Sunday football or when he was on ESPN. Not that it makes a difference, it would just explain why I never heard him say it.