The Columbia Journalism Review has a great piece on the business decision Fox News has made investing in adding liberal commentators to its staff, despite its viewership being overwhelmingly conservative.
A big part of the decision is obviously ratings. On-air conflict always draws viewers. So what of MSNBC, always rife with controversy and combative content? Their ratings are generally not even close to those of Fox.
While MSNBC’s docket of shows contains the occasional conservative guest, they appear without the bluster and hyperbole of the typical Fox News debate—an aesthetic that MSNBC courted from its earliest days, when it aimed to resemble the amicable banter of a coffee shop. While the liberal hosts of MSNBC often skewer conservatives, the debates happen with villains who are not in the studio: lambasted, by proxy, in news clips. At Fox, they happen in person, with a real-live liberal who is often on staff.