Maybe I'm just an incurable malcontent. "On three nights in a row after the election last week," writes the NY Times' media correspondent, Brian Stelter, MSNBC "had more viewers than Fox" in one prized demographic and is gaining in others. But I wasn't among them. Well, now and then, if my muted television screen was displaying the visage of a promising interviewee, I'd unleash the audibles. Otherwise I was perfectly content with being discontented with so much virtue being hurled my way.
I missed this quote at the time: "Of MSNBC, former President Bill Clinton remarked last winter, 'Boy, it really has become our version of Fox.' " Boy, was he right, even if Rachel Maddow's mitigating observation is also true: "I think that we are more information-based" than Fox. In other words, the two networks are exactly the same, except in the way they aren't.
Where MSNBC and Fox are virtually indistinguishable is in that aforementioned, insufferable virtue: Fox's comes from scolding, nihilistic hellhounds of anarchism--a kind of right-wing paradise; while MSNBC's droppeth gently like Hurricane Sandy from the self-righteous celestialism of Schultz, Maddow and Sharpton. It's inarguable the latter are "more information-based." Nonetheless piety on parade is still piety on parade. Nearly as intolerable are Schultz's nightly teleprompter-challenges; Maddow's hand-clapping and endless repeating of and riffing on the selfsame point; and Sharpton's ceaseless boom of a delivery (has no one informed him there's a mike on his tie?).
I'm not in denial. I grasp my problem, and a personal "problem" or character flaw it may well be. I don't know. But I do know I simply don't like being part of a community of passionate, like-minded people. And as Stelter reports, MSNBC sells "its audience as ... a community of passionate, like-minded people." I find this dangerously synonymous with boosterism and GroupThink. Color me Emersonian if you like, but to my mind a uniformity of behavior leads only to the conformity of thought--and both are lethal to innovation.
Put another way, MSNBC's audience awaits, perhaps, Fox's Bubble--and the ensuing popping thereof.