The Daily Banter

There Is No Pro-Obama Bias on MSNBC

My Tuesday column continues a topic from last week with a new twist -- Greenwald has weighed in.

Glenn Greenwald wrote a response to the Michael Calderone Huffington Post article from last week about MSNBC's so-called "pro-Obama bias." (My response to the Calderone piece is located here, and here's Ben Cohen's excellent response to the Greenwald piece.)

Predictably, this new Greenwald rant is a continuation of his ongoing crusade to badger progressives who don't make it part of their daily routine to screech at the president regarding Greenwald's preordained three or four pet issues. Greenwald operates under the mandate that because drones are his primary concern and the prism through which he evaluates the president, so it should be with everyone else. The slightest deviation from that narrative in lieu of delivering news of a presidential success is a punishment-worthy trespass.

But of course, with regards to the alleged pro-Obama bias of MSNBC and the progressive media, he misses several major points. [continue reading]

  • Victor_the_Crab

    I did this to Greenwald’s Wikipedia page last week. I don’t know if it’s still there or not.

    • nicole


      • Kerry Reid

        Honestly, as someone who has been fighting in feminist and other social-justice issues for decades while Greenwald was not voting and indeed seemingly congratulating himself for his too-cool-for-school insouciance (“I never voted for George W. Bush—or for any of his political opponents. I believed that
        voting was not particularly important. Our country, it seemed to me, was essentially on the right track.Whether Democrats or Republicans held the White House or the majorities in Congress made only the most marginal difference”) — Greenwald can bite my fat aging ass.

        Where the hell was he as as SCOTUS moved to the right? (Oh wait — he defends Citizens United.) Where the hell was he as America grew even more openly xenophobic? (Oh wait — he was calling undocumented immigrants “illegals”). WTF was he doing about the widespread attempts to deny women access to basic and life-saving medical care? AWOL.

        Of course, for Glenn, everything probably WAS going well, and since he is the measure of all things, nothing is a problem until GLENN decrees it as such. So he goes to law school, starts getting paid (defending white supremacists — which is his right, but calling Matt Hale’s victims “odious and repugnant” was pretty creepy, IMO.)

        So all is well on Planet Glenn. And then 9/11 came along, he lost his fudge and somehow thought Daddy George and Papa Dick would do the right thing (based on what evidence, god only knows) and protect Little Glennie from the Bad Men. A few years go by and then and ONLY then did Lil Glennie wake up and realize “Wow, this country abuses civil rights — but it only just started yesterday!”

        Because apparently torture and extrajudicial executions that are covered under the umbrella of “lynching” somehow don’t register with him. Because apparently all the people of color who are brutalized and killed by badge-wearing authorities within the United States aren’t on his radar. (I already pointed out the sheer jaw-dropping idiocy of him positing Jose Padilla as the Firstest Ever Person in the U.S. to be denied due process — which frankly is SO fucking tone-deaf and idiotic that I think it’s enough to deny him any further credibility on the history of civil rights and their abrogation in this country.)

        He may believe what he wants and behave as he wants and say what he wants, of course. But if he thinks he has enough skin in the game and credibility to tell people who have been slogging it out for years what they REALLY ought to be worried about vis a vis government control and civil liberties., he’s as feckless and tone-deaf as the GOPers who parrot the talking points about how women and minorities just need to stop being so focused on THEIR petty little issues and focus on the “real American” stuff, like tax breaks for the uber-wealthy.

        Go home and get your shine box, Glenn.

        • Kerry Reid

          And one last thing and then I’ll stop (don’t know why the Greenwald button was particularly incendiary tonight): as always, if he is going to insist that lefties in America can only be measured as sincere if they oppose Obama on the grounds of drone strikes, then I reserve the right to view Greenwald as a hypocritical imperialist opportunist who takes full advantage of the economic and social advantages of Brazil while turning a blind eye to the many official human-rights abuses of the poor and young that are going on there. (

          Or does it only count if they are killed by drones?

          • nicole

            It only counts if they’re killed by US drones.

            Agree with everything you typed, Kerry.

            Greenwald (whom I can’t stand & who blocked me on Twitter for getting too loud about it) usually gets me going too, but I am too laid back today (unusual for me).

          • Kerry Reid

            I think it’s hilarious how soon he blocks people. Again, that is his right – but it sure adds to the “thin-skinned clueless weenie” portrait.

          • nicole

            “thin-skinned clueless weenie”

            Perfect. :)

  • Kerry Reid

    See, I view Greenwald through the prism of the guy who admits that he gave George W. Bush the “benefit of the doubt” in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. (

    And those invasions have killed a LOT more people than drone strikes. I don’t like drones either, don’t get me wrong — but I still don’t see how a guy who supported Bush while the current president was running for the U.S. Senate and speaking out against the war has greater moral clarity.

    Of course, in the same link above, alleged Con Law expert Glenn writes:

    “What first began to shake my faith in the administration was its conduct in the case of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen arrested in May 2002 on U.S. soil and then publicly labeled “the dirty bomber.” The administration claimed it could hold him indefinitely without charging him with any crime and while denying him access to counsel.

    I never imagined that such a thing could happen in modern America— that a president would claim the right to order American citizens imprisoned with no charges and without the right to a trial. In China, the former Soviet Union, Iran, and countless other countries, the government can literally abduct its citizens and imprison them without a trial. But that cannot happen in the United States—at least it never could before. If it means anything to be an American citizen, it means that we cannot be locked away by our government unless we are charged with a crime, given due process in court, and then convicted by a jury of our peers.”

    Which is, I suppose, his long-winded way of saying he never heard of Executive Order 9066 — that thing most of us learned about in high school history class whereby over 100,000 Japanese-American citizens were interned without due process.

    Yes. He’s just that smart.

  • bphoon

    First, I agree completely with your article of today as well as your column on this topic of last week. I watch MSNBC with some regularity–it is by no means my only source of news and other current affairs or political information–and have found them, with some exceptions, to be fair and intellectually honest especially when compared with the likes of Faux News.

    But, Greenwald…man…when Ben Cohen characterizes his column on pro-Obama bias as an “incredibly long winded and monotonous rant” he ain’t shittin’. What a self-styled demigod–a condescending, pompous pontificator of the first order. When I finally got to the end of his rant my first question to myself was how many times can someone say the same damned thing? Insufferable.

  • MrDHalen

    Greenwald has become unhinged in my opinion. When your passion for a subject becomes so warped that you can no longer see the realities of the larger world around you, it’s time for a box, a sign, and a street corner.

  • nicole

    I agree that the “pro-Obama bias” doesn’t exist on MSNBC. Nor do I see it anywhere else in corporate owned media.

    Greenwald……..we need to ask ourselves what his true intent is. I am more than halfway convinced that he is a Republican operative using the issues that are triggers for the left in order to win left wing approval at the same time that he tries to do harm to Obama.

    • incredulous72

      I personally don’t give a shit what Greenwald’s intent is because he barely lives here anymore and doesn’t seem to give a kitty what regular folks in this country are going through.

      So he, Hamster and Nada can go jump in a lake. Privileged lil’ biddies looking for attention.

      • nicole

        Incred, I do only to the extent that I would like to see him exposed for what he really is (and I am so damn tired of his attacks on the Pres).

  • GrafZeppelin127

    One more quick comment on the article:

    If the news of the day involves drones or indefinite detention, and the host of the show has something to add, then absolutely include it. But to artificially shoehorn a drone story into a show just because Greenwald demanded it is not unlike shoehorning a pro-conservative viewpoint into a commentary for the sake of appearing balanced when such balance might not exist.

    That’s a good point. The article makes the distinction between the news of the day, and things that are just generally going on in the world that may not be particularly relevant to that day’s news. It’s always the latter that pundits, reporters, news organizations, etc. are accused of “not talking about” or “refusing to cover.” Yes, there are drones flying around Pakistan and Afghanistan, as they were yesterday, as they will be tomorrow, but nothing happened today with respect to drones that is of any particular interest, let alone more important than [X], [Y] and [Z] that did happen today.

    In the early 2000s, during W’s first term, I had a right-wing acquaintance cite as “proof” of “liberal media bias” the “fact” that the broadcast networks’ evening news programs “refused” to run stories about what an awesome president Ronald Reagan was. Really.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    I don’t know if I would go so far as to agree that there is “no pro-Obama bias on MSNBC.” There is some, but whether or not that bias is bad, is unreasonable, is detrimental to its news coverage, results in dishonest or misleading reporting, &c. is a separate issue.

    I think maybe the dual question is (1) what constitutes bias? and (2) how does one detect bias?

    I’ll use an example I wrote extensively about recently. I read a comment on Facebook by a friend of a friend accusing Obama of having “tried to force veterans to pay the bills for their own war injuries” (hereinafter, the “Meme”). I did about 30 seconds of research and discovered that what really happened (hereinafter the “Explanation”) was far more benign: some unnamed people in the administration had at some indeterminate time floated the idea in some unspecified fashion, of having veterans with private coverage bill their private insurers for all of their medical needs, including service-related injuries, instead of billing the latter to the V.A. and everything else to their private carrier, and at no additional cost to the veteran (i.e., requiring the insurers to cover them), with the V.A. continuing to cover veterans without private insurance.

    OK, so we have the Meme, and the Explanation. I think it’s pretty obvious to most people reading here that the Meme is, and can only have been, the product of anti-Obama bias (in addition to being a gross distortion of the truth, it’s completely unreasonable to believe), and the Explanation is simply what happened, irrespective of whether it was a good idea or not. The question is, does reporting the Explanation instead of the Meme constitute “pro-Obama bias”?

    If MSNBC reports the Explanation as news, contemporaneously with the event itself, irrespective of whether anyone is reporting the Meme, does that demonstrate pro-Obama bias?

    If MSNBC reports the Explanation contemporaneously, at the same time Fox is “reporting” the Meme, does that demonstrate pro-Obama bias?

    If MSNBC reports the Explanation in response to Fox’s “reporting” the Meme, does that demonstrate pro-Obama bias?

    Moreover, does my assumption that the Meme can’t be true, my immediate, automatic desire to research the issue and find out what actually happened, and accepting of the Explanation as the truth instead of the Meme, demonstrate pro-Obama bias?

    • Bob Cesca

      There’s *some* bias like there’s *some* voter fraud.

      • GrafZeppelin127

        I think my point is that reporting on facts and events that incidentally happen to make the President look good may be taken as bias, even though it really isn’t. A lot of what we see on the pundit shows there involves the hosts defending the President against the nonsense coming from the Fox paracosm; it could be argued, and disputed, that the inclination to do so in the first place constitutes “pro-Obama bias.”

        Then again, maybe this is part of Fox’s Secret Evil Master Plan. They say so many outrageous, ridiculous things about the President that are so egregiously false or misleading that legitimate journalists feel compelled not only to tell the public the truth but to spend an awful lot of time doing it. Fox tries so hard to portray anything and everything the President does and says in a negative light, and everything that happens in the world as reflecting negatively upon him, that anything anyone else says has to seem “pro-Obama” by comparison. Thus Fox and the rest of the paracosm-dwellers can point to anything outside the paracosm and go “See??!?! See?!!?! Pro-Obama bias!!! See?!!?!” MSNBC achieves “pro-Obama bias” simply by virtue of not being irrationally biased against him.

  • Tom

    Greenwald is concerned about all sorts of unconstitutional and illegal activities by this administration including torture, warrentless wiretapping, and extrajudicial executions.

    • ranger11

      That’s so sad.

    • nicole

      You need to get away from Greenwald and learn to think and research on your own.


    • D_C_Wilson

      Greenwald doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about this country. He just wants people to do what he says.

    • Spenser Dettwyler

      Then he’s one administration late