A News Empire Bows to Trump and the GOP

You know it’s only a matter of time, don’t you?

The news that NBCUniversal is bringing Fox News Channel refugees Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren on board means only one thing: the expedited elimination of any NBCUniversal media voice that displeases Republicans.

Just because Kelly had that little squabble with Donald Trump a while back doesn’t mean that, in her new position, Kelly will not show shameless bias towards the Republican worldview, the same shameless bias she exhibited during her ignoble tenure in the House that Rupert and Roger Built. (Note that Kelly claims she’s now on good terms with Trump.) Van Susteren may be viewed in some quarters as a figure who has exhibited less inanity than Sean Hannity, but there’s no question where her sympathies ultimately lie as well.

The hiring of Kelly and Van Susteren is a clear signal by NBCUniversal management that in their view, Democrats don’t watch their network and cable outlets, and that money and prestige can be found in flattering GOP power players, something these Fox figures are experts at. As progressive radio star Thom Hartmann has noted, over the past year or so NBC Universal’s cable-news channel, MSNBC, has been turning itself into what he calls the “cloth-coat Republican network”; with the hiring of Van Susteren at MSNBC, that cloth coat will be a deep, dark shade of red.

I wouldn’t bet against MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Joy Reid being purged from the network by year’s end. (I’m surprised that as of this writing, Trump has not yet attacked Maddow on Twitter for her outstanding coverage last night of the intelligence report on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to secure Trump’s success in last year’s presidential election, or Michael Moore’s call for an anti-Trump resistance on O’Donnell’s program.) Their accomplishments will not protect them: after all, it was six years ago this month that Keith Olbermann, MSNBC’s franchise quarterback, was unceremoniously cut from the team after reportedly running afoul of management. Hayes, Maddow, O’Donnell and Reid simply don’t fit into NBCUniversal’s apparent game plan; when Maddow laments the fact that Republican main-eventers are reluctant to appear on her show, one can envision NBCUniversal execs saying, “Well, there’s one way to remedy that…”

Salon’s Heather Digby Parton recently noted that Hayes and Maddow “…take an adversarial position against right wing [nonsense]”; I would argue that it is precisely because they take an adversarial position against such nonsense that they may not be around much longer. When Maddow interviewed Van Susteren on Thursday, viewers witnessed a symbolic changing of the guard; though Maddow was gracious as always, and clearly has respect for Van Susteren, it was also unnerving to realize that Van Susteren will never scrutinize Trump and the Republican Party the way Maddow has.

Trump may profess to be angry with NBCUniversal’s news outlets now, but that anger will quickly subside, because with its recent hires, NBCUniversal has chosen sides. They will be sure not to offend King Donald or his party again anytime soon. To quote that old Waitresses song, these executives “know what guys want” on their cable and broadcast news: nothing but blonde, bland Republican fans.

I’ve noted previously the wisdom of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 suggestion that Democratic donors should invest in a cable network that does for the Democratic Party what Fox did for the GOP. NBCUniversal’s embrace of these de facto GOP operatives validates Sanders’ point–that if Democrats don’t tell their own stories, nobody will. We have seen US broadcast and cable media entities embrace madness before–let’s not forget that David Rhodes, the president of CBS News, is himself a Fox refugee–but never quite like this. US broadcast and cable media entities seem fixated on becoming another propaganda arm for the Republican Party. The question is: what the hell do Democrats plan to do about it?