Fox's Roger Ailes, MSNBC's Phil Griffin Trade Barbs

Fox's Roger Ailes, MSNBC's Phil Griffin Trade Barbs

The New Republic published a profile Monday of MSNBC President Phil Griffin in which one of Griffin’s producers labels rival cable network Fox News “Loserville.” The piece also includes a quote from Fox President Roger Ailes who refers to MSNBC as a “mean-spirited circus.”

Ailes tells the author of the piece, “I’m fond of Phil Griffin. He’s like the guy next door who wants to borrow your lawnmower. And he does a pretty good job of managing that mean-spirited circus over there. But let’s be honest, he built his whole career out of being in Jeff Zucker’s wedding party.” Jeff Zucker is currently the President of CNN.

Earlier in the same piece, Griffin tells TNR that he expects to beat Fox in the ratings by 2014. Griffin himself is not quoted, but one of his producers refers to Fox as “Loserville” during a staff meeting.

The entire piece is an interesting read, though it falls flat when it attempts to cast Fox as somehow more politically connected than MSNBC. Author Rebecca Dana writes, “MSNBC isn’t an instrument of the Democratic Party in the way that Fox is of the GOP. Ailes has a direct line to conservative politicians and considerable influence over them. Griffin may go to the odd White House Christmas party, but he’s not talking strategy with Valerie Jarrett.”

Nonsense. Griffin may not be talking strategy with Jarrett, but his hosts have had multiple off-the-record sit-downs with the President. Rachel Maddow, who heads up the MSNBC primetime lineup, has been to the White House at least eight times, seven as of January 2012. Two of those visits were sit-downs with the President. Maddow’s most recent visit, in December of 2012, also included MSNBC hosts Lawrence O’Donnell, Ed Schultz, and Al Sharpton. Which is more important: that Griffin visited the White House or that his hosts repeatedly did so?

The New Republic piece also omits a mention of the recent Pew analysis which found that 85% of MSNBC’s content was opinion-laden vs. 15% that was strictly “factual reporting.” The figures for Fox were 55%-45%. As I wrote at the time, “MSNBC is everything that progressives imagine Fox to be.”