Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NBC Universal to be floated?

Probably the most under-reported politics storyline is the news that Vivendi may IPO its stake in NBC Universal. This is been seen as part of a larger move that is expected to see NBC spin out of GE which currently has majority control.

The political impact of this is likely to be significant. At the moment MSNBC has a bizarre status as a tabloid that changes political complexion from Conservative in the morning to Liberal at night. From a business standpoint this makes no sense, the audience for Joe Scarborough is not going to watch Rachel Maddow in the evening or vice versa.

MSNBC would surely have addressed this incongruity years ago if it had been an independent company or owned by a media combine (Comcast may acquire the majority stake). The reason it has not is that GE is an industrial combine whose management is clearly more comfortable with conservative commentators. In the wake of 9/11 the channel attempted to refashion itself as 'Fox News Lite'. The spectrum of political debate was deemed to run from John McCain on the left through Dick Cheney in the center and off into the far right. The Democratic Party, the party that had captured more votes in the 2000 Presidential election and only a few percent less in the 2004 election was to be considered an irrelevance, a party of perpetual opposition whose opinions were now irrelevant and were not worth air time.

Things look rather different now. The Democrats hold the White House, Senate and House and appear to have every chance of keeping them for the indefinite future. MSNBC has recognized this trend and has switched their programming so that they are now backing left and right approximately the same amount of time. This is what passes for 'balance', favoring the GOP when it is the dominant party and switching to 'balance' when it is not.

I expect that MSNBC will jettison its Conservative hosts soon after it changes ownership and afterward attempt to establish itself as the unabashed liberal equivalent to 'Faux' News.

That is really not good for liberals. The reason that the GOP is in the electoral hole that it is today is that it has been marinading itself in the ideological foment of Fox 24 hours a day. That is really unhealthy to say the least.

Instead of coming to terms with the fact that the Bush administration approach of executive policy made through gut level instinct was a total failure, Fox keeps telling the GOP to double down on the gut.

Historically the progressive party is the party of ideology and the conservative party the party of pragmatism. The idea being that most people will be better off with a pragmatic conservative than well intentioned liberal following some ideological program designed before the invention of the internal combustion engine. Thanks to Fox News in particular, and the Murdoch press ion general, the conservative and liberal parties throughout the English speaking world have switched roles. The liberal parties are now the party of pragmatism and the conservatives are the ones peddling the ideological drivel written by charlatans and frauds channeling pre-industrial economic sages.

Liberals have been well served by not having a Faux News of their own. Hopefully MSNBC will not become one.

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