MSNBC Reaps the Radicalism it Sowed
The price of cashing in on extremism.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Andrew Yang, the candidate of Silicon Valley bigwigs who believe that all of the country’s problems can be solved by replacing people with machines and forcing what’s left of the middle class to write welfare checks to everyone else, will boycott MSNBC for not giving him enough time to say stupid things on TV.
"They’ve omitted me from their graphics 12+ times, called me John Yang on air, and given me a fraction of the speaking time over 2 debates despite my polling higher than other candidates on stage," Yang tweeted, declaring that he wouldn't go on MSNBC until the lefty news network apologizes to him on the air. "They think we need them. We don’t," he concluded.
MSNBC apparently tried to apologize, but none of their emails to John Yang got through.
Andrew Yang needs MSNBC a lot more than MSNBC needs John Yang. But who knew that Yang’s math pin referred not to his inability to understand that his free money plan would bankrupt everything, but to the Yang Gang maintaining a spreadsheet of speaking times and chyron appearances.
A small carefully curated group of Yang supporters did show up to protest outside the MSNBC debate by chanting, "M-S-N-B-C, hands off our democracy!"
That was followed by hashtags such as, #Boycott MSNBC, #YangMediaBlackout and #MSNBCFearsYang.
The Yang Gang is late to the party. Sandernistas have been circulating a #BernieBlackout hashtag since at least 1922. The main target is MSNBC, which apart from NPR and High Times is the only media outlet that potential Sanders supporters are likely to consume between marijuana brownies laced with Geritol.
Even while Yang was throwing his tantrum, anti-Semitic thespian John Cusack tweeted his own call for a boycott of MSNBC. “Be clear MSNBC You did this to yourself no one made you parade neocons & neoliberal pundits to slander & smear a people’s movement that you KNOW is not radical but a return to FDR politics,” he ranted.
It’s true that between an economic program inspired by Mussolini, and schemes to pack the court and replace the Bill of Rights with the Four Freedoms, FDR makes Bernie Sanders look like a moderate.
The pretext for Cusack’s call for a boycott of MSNBC was a highlight reel of pundits dissing Sanders. And in a people’s movement, no one may diss the commissar. That gets you gulaged on Fifth Avenue.
Where Yang might have legitimately fussy grievances, the Sandernistas are just violently intolerant of any criticism of their people’s movement and its $100 Artists for Bernie jacket. Back in the summer, his national co-chair had whined that MSNBC “commentators are injecting their opinion without any policy discussions.” And when Bernie comes to power, that sort of thing will be punished with a double gulag.
Meanwhile on MSNBC, a guest on Joy Reid’s show suggested that Kamala Harris was tanking because of white execs on cable news networks. "editorial decision-makers," she objected, "are not very diverse, and I think that reflects in the coverage, unfortunately." Like, say, MSNBC.
Tulsi Gabbard is also unhappy with MSNBC. But these days everyone hates MSNBC.
Bernie supporters typically refer to the lefty news network as the “corporate media”. As opposed to, say Mother Jones, The Nation, Jacobin, and the Daily Worker.
Krystal Ball, who used to be on a cancelled MSNBC show, declared that, “MSNBC has officially lost the left.”
When you’ve lost the lady who tried to run for Congress before photos came out of her performing inappropriate acts on a man in a reindeer costume, before transitioning to a cancelled MSNBC show, and the People’s House Project, which raised $445,000 and paid her $174,000, you’ve lost the Left.
Ball denounced MSNBC as “a corporate capitalist enterprise that happened to stumble on Keith Olbermann and find that rage against the Bush administration made for a successful business model.”
For the first time in her sad life, Ball has a point.
MSNBC didn’t decide to become the home of tendentious radicals in hipster glasses. It just happened. The news network created as a joint project between Microsoft and NBC, for reasons no one can quite explain, didn’t set out to host hipsters explaining how the Russians used microwave beams to hack all the country’s microwaves to vote for Donald Trump. Other models were tried. They all failed.
Now it’s got Rachel Maddow, who in between explaining how the Russians made her wear those glasses which make her look like a butch Keith Olbermann, also stands accused of dissing Commissar Bernie.
But it’s hard to feel sorry for MSNBC which is just reaping the radicalism that it so profitably sowed.
MSNBC’s viability comes from catering to the crazies, the grifters, and the radicals. But it’s run like a conventional news network, and that means inviting Democrat establishment people to explain that the Sanders plan to take away everyone’s health care and replace it with copies of Mao’s Little Red Book won’t play well in Iowa. It’s had Michael Moore on to promote Bernie, but that’s not enough.
And it won’t be.
Much of the outrage is less about Bernie, who has become a façade for a motley assortment of agendas, from socialists to Islamists, than about radicals who want to discredit MSNBC for self-serving reasons. The claims that MSNBC is biased against Bernie Sanders keep coming from Jacobin’s people. And Jacobin is the home of fulminating Sandernistas who would love to get a fraction of MSNBC’s traffic.
In becoming the face of lefty media, MSNBC has also become a target of anyone leftward of it. And considering the onion layers of radical insanity that begin with socialism and end with guys Lyndon LaRouche thinks are too crazy, that’s a vast territory whose expanses are as infinite as the universe.
One distinction between radicals and extremists is that the former attack their opponents on the other side of the spectrum while the latter target more moderate people on their own side. You can build a corporate business model by monetizing radicals, but trying to monetize extremists is suicidal.
The Left is slipping past mere radicalism into the red shores of extremism. And all that fury is catnip for everyone who wants a totalitarian socialist state and/or is angry that MSNBC hasn’t hired them.
Ball claims that MSNBC owes its success to Keith Olbermann. And Olbermann famously burned through his time at MSNBC before slipping lower, down to Al Gore’s Current TV (later to become a failed Al Jazeera venture), an angry GQ vlog, The Resistance, and then, inevitably, back to ESPN.
Most of MSNBC’s enemies have come from within. Or would like to be within.
The Sandernista demands that MSNBC bring on more pro-Sanders people are self-serving. But so is MSNBC.
MSNBC is paying the price for cultivating radicals and extremists. And, like the Saudis, it keeps failing to learn that the extremists you cultivate are going to be the ones to bomb and behead you. But without cultivating them, MSNBC can’t maintain a working business model as the Democrats go leftward.
The problem it faces is the old familiar one of tiger horsemanship. The radicals are right that MSNBC is a corporate enterprise. But its corporate enterprise is in the business of radicalizing Democrats.
That’s how MSNBC ended up with the Sandernistas at the gates.
You can only ride the tiger for so long until it realizes that instead of chasing down its natural prey, there’s a tasty snack sitting right between its shoulders. And lefties are nothing if not lazy. That’s why they form circular firing squads so readily. After a while it’s easier to just shoot the people you know.
MSNBC’s backlash does offer an important lesson for corporate America. Trying to build a business model around catering to radicals doesn’t work. At some point the radicals stop being entitled millennials who just want to buy vegan burgers and tiny electric cars, and become extremists who want to abolish capitalism and gulag everyone who doesn’t agree with them about personal pronouns.
The lefty news network can’t appease all its lefty critics. But it can always serve as an object lesson on the folly of major corporations trying to ride the red tiger.