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Foxey MSNBC Still Has a Personality Problem

Just because MSNBC has finally come out and admitted what it is and wants to be, does it make it right (er, left)?

Further, does this admission impact the entire Peacock Network's newsgathering team as a whole?

The answer to both those questions is, you bet it does.

There's a story that's been heating up many of the likely media stops on the Information Highway the past couple of days. The Chicago Tribune's media columnist Phil Rosenthal gets the credit for providing the spark.

Seems that during an interview with Rosenthal late last week, Phil Griffin, the MSNBC president heaped praise on his chief rival and tormentor, Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News.

Griffin gushed that, "He's (Ailes) changed media. Everybody does news differently because Roger's changed the world. ... Roger early on figured it out and was brilliant."

Thanks to Ailes, Griffin has come around to thinking out loud that you need to curry favor to your "like-minded" viewers by talking their language, because of the "actions and passions of today, which tend to be political."

Good grief, Ailes has to be blushing candy-apple red after this sudden genuflection by a guy that up until this point had been downright contemptuous of Ailes' ways and his Fox News Network.

It was less than two years ago when Griffin was telling another print columnist, Aaron Barnhart of the Kansas City Star, this:

"They (Fox) saw an opportunity years ago to create an ideological channel. And they did. I give them total credit. I tip my hat to them. They scored. But it was ideological and opportunistic. It was a business plan."

In the same interview he said that "we're not tied to ideology the way they are." The 'we' of course being MSNBC, the 'they' Fox News.

So what the heck is going on here?

Only the pirouetting Griffin knows for sure, but it looks a lot like he has grown weary of trying to have it both ways.

While loading up his prime-time lineup with a bunch of punch-hitting, left-leaning ideologues, the guy also somehow managed to be publicly critical of Fox for doing exactly the same thing on the right side of the political spectrum.

Essentially, the guy was copying Fox's ridiculously successful model, while at the same time kicking its tires.

Well, you can see where a guy might seriously stub a toe or pull a muscle with all that kicking, and stretching back and forth.

Frankly, I say good for you and your cable-news network, Mr. Griffin. You've finally come clean. And even if you only stumbled into that bath without really aiming for it, no matter, you have finally admitted what you are, and smell a lot better for it. I bet you'll even sleep easier at night.

But before you hit the rack for that deep, restful sleep a clear conscience affords, just one more thing ...

Now that you are going to wander down this political road by overtly doing a series of hard lefts, where does that leave the the rest of the news division at NBC? You know, like Brian Williams and David Gregory, just to name two?

I ask this because while you have been covertly copying Ailes' brilliant business plan at MSNBC, you have also touted the strong synergy between NBC News and MSNBC. You certainly wouldn't want people to believe that guys like Gregory and Williams were left-wing sympathizers, right?

Whether it's warranted or not, you know damn well a number of people already have their suspicions about the "mainstream media's" lean to the left on political issues.

Perception affects credibility. Too often, it even becomes reality.

Let's face it, having Williams and the Gang slipping back and forth between the two channels just doesn't look good.

See? There's that smell again ...

But if you are having trouble picking up that odor from the inside, maybe it would help if you took a whiff of something else you said during that chat with Barnhart a couple of years ago:

"We're not tied to ideology the way they (Fox) are. We're still NBC News, best newsgathering organization in the world, we have a couple of point-of-view people, but we have a variety of opinions you don't see elsewhere.
"THEY (Fox) made the business decision to create an ideological network. We didn't. They were the ones that got in bed with the Bush Administration, so that most of the time, where did the Bush Administration officials come out and make their points? Fox News. We didn't. You brought it up, but it's a great story because you can't trust a word they say."

Good night, and good luck, Mr. Griffin.

(Got a tip, a gripe, or some kudos? Send 'em along.)