As cable TV networks go, MSNBC is one of the more frequently accused of bias. Granted, they don't have an entire comedy show out for their blood the same way that Fox News does, but they still attract criticism. To their credit, their executives admit that some of that criticism is even true.
But unfortunately, if a report from the media monitoring site Mediaite published today is accurate, that supposed self-awareness may function simply as a way to hide MSNBC's more problematic news practices in plain sight.
Exhibit A in this regard is MSNBC's coverage of the Trayvon Martin case. Despite pushing the story very forcefully during the first two months that it became news (with Al Sharpton interviewing the grieving parents of the slain teen and Lawrence O'Donnell shouting insults and questions at an empty chair), now that new evidence is breaking that may lead to an acquittal of shooter George Zimmerman, MSNBC is behaving as though the story doesn't exist. In fact, not a single one of its primetime anchors has covered the story at all since the release of the pro-Zimmerman evidence. Not Ed Schultz, not Lawrence O'Donnell, not even Al Sharpton.
In March and April, MSNBC’s primetime hosts ran with nearly wall-to-wall coverage of the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. They regularly suggested that the lack of national interest in the case was worthy of outrage. Last week, when an avalanche of new evidence favorable to George Zimmerman came to light, MSNBC’s primetime lineup didn’t just bury the story, they didn’t mention Martin or Zimmerman once the week that news broke according to media monitoring service TV Eyes. [...]
On May 17, Prosecutor Angela Cory’s office released hundreds of pages of information that further shed light on the murky events that led to the killing of Martin. Also released on that day was footage from the 7-Eleven where Martin was last caught on tape just minutes before his altercation with Zimmerman. New photos of Zimmerman’s wounds were also released on the 17th.
The new documents included an assessment that charges were actively considered from the beginning. “44th page of the documents released is that Christopher Serino, the lead investigator at the scene concluded that there was “probable cause” to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter,” writes Mediaite’s Jon Bershad. “ It isn’t immediately clear why this didn’t happen.”[...]
Even 6 p.m. anchor Rev. Al Sharpton who had seemed to make his show a platform for Zimmerman outrage, made no mention of Martin last week, after months of daily reporting.[...]
To be fair, MSNBC dayside did cover the story as news according to TV Eyes but considering how often and passionately their primetime hosts focused on this story, it seems either purely ideological or beyond negligent for not a single show to have mentioned this big news.
This is an important point, not least of all because MSNBC made a point of savaging this variety of "look the other way" journalism. Consider this clip from Al Sharpton back on March 21st:
Now there's news that runs against the very narrative that hosts like Sharpton pushed, and the reaction? Crickets.