MSNBC is built on a lie, and it's one that the cable channel is never going to be able escape as long as sticks to its leftist ideological guns.
That's what I kept thinking as I watched Keith Olbermann's strange, coded, wink-wink interview with Cenk Uygur last week on the new version of "Countdown." (That's the nightly show that is doing so well that Olbermann and Current TV have not released any ratings since the first week of July -- and those showed a 30 percent drop for Olbermann from his premiere week.)
You can see a video of the interview here, but there is not enough time left in my life to try and explain all the innuendo and nutsiness going back and forth between these two former MSNBC employes. In the video, Uygur once again lays out his paranoid charges that the political powers that be in Washington (read: White House) essentially called in his boss at MSNBC and told him to tone Uygur down.
I am also including a link to video from CNN's"Reliable Sources" today (July 24) in which host Howard Kurtz interviews Uygur and finally brings some context and perspective to the story. See that here. Compare Kurtz and Olbermann as interviewers, and you tell me who is the journalist and who is the clown-pretender in a vest.
For the record, MSNBC acknowledges that Phil Griffin, president of the channel, did meet with Uygur at one point to tell him that MSNBC producers in Washington did have some suggestions and recommendations about Uygur's arm-waving, over-heated, on-air method of presentation. That's MSNBC's Washington producers -- not White House officials. Uygur is using the term "Washington" to imply things he cannot start to prove.
But here's my point. As I was watching the Uygur-Olbermann kabuki dance, I realized that MSNBC has ironically and hopelessly painted itself into an inescapable box with its embrace of leftist ideology in recent years.
One of the core narratives of the system of beliefs to which the MSNBC hosts ascribe is that corporations are bad and most of trouble American now finds itself in is the result of evil corporations and the politicians who bow before Wall Street and the corporations -- politicians like George W. Bush. Even Barack Obama does way too much bowing to corporate America for this crew.
Ed Schultz, Lawrence O'Donnell, Rachel Maddow -- they have all espoused some version of this on-air. Schultz, with his rabble-rousing union rhetoric, espouses it with more blind and ignorant faith than anyone.
So, the chance for Uygur to use a variation of the narrative to explain why he was passed over for the 6 p.m. weeknight hosting job on MSNBC in favor of what looks to be the Rev. Al Sharpton was a no-brainer. Of course, he'd play the card and say that he was not going to bow to the powers that have tried to rein in his commitment to telling American viewers the "truth" about how the system works.
But here's the catch.
Given the confusion and anger with layoffs and job loss, it's not hard for MSNBC to find anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million viewers a night for its prime-time shows by espousing that simplistic explanation of American life. It offers a story line that helps many Americans make sense of the economic pain and fear they are feeling, while pointing them toward a not very sympathetic target for their anger.
But every so often when something like the the Olbermann or Uygur situation makes news, people in that audience say, "Hey, isn't MSNBC part of a big, fat corporation -- one the biggest and fattest in the land?"
And then, the cognitive dissonance sets in for those MSNBC viewers who wonder, "So, why should I trust Ed Schultz or Lawrence O'Donnell or Rachel Maddow when they say the unions are good and the corporations are bad if they are taking million dollar paychecks from a corporation for saying it?"
That's a good question. And hosts like Olbermann and Uygur only answer it after they have left MSNBC.
In the end, the only way for MSNBC hosts to keep faith with the ideology they espoused on the air was to denounce MSNBC.
And they say Fox News viewers are fed a pack of misinformation and lies.