Since the start of the Trump era, the term “fake news” has spread rampantly, causing many Americans to question whether the information they see is accurate, biased, or downright false. This has caused much controversy for journalists, news broadcasters, and even news outlets such as CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC.
MSNBC is one of the primary national news outlets for many Americans, beating out every other network in daytime viewership numbers during February and averaging 1.53 million viewers between 9 am and 4 pm throughout the month. As popular as MSNBC is, they’re still one of the most controversial news networks, mainly due to accusations of liberal and progressive bias.
Much of the controversy with MSNBC is not necessarily what they’re reporting, but how they’re reporting it. MSNBC is well-known for liberal bias, but they also have been accused of favoring specific candidates in presidential elections, especially during the primary season where no side has picked a nominee to represent the party in the race for President.
Lanny Davis, an advisor to former President Bill Clinton, claimed multiple times that MSNBC covered Hillary Clinton much worse than they did Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries. Davis believes that networks like MSNBC ultimately decided the Democratic nominee for President simply because of their biased coverage of the candidates, considering the network’s popularity among Democrats. MSNBC’s bias towards candidates extended into the general election where then-Senator Barack Obama faced John McCain for President.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism, a research organization that evaluates and studies the performance of the press, showed following the 2008 Presidential election that MSNBC had less negative coverage of Barack Obama than the national average among the press, and more negative coverage of John McCain than the national average.
The reporting of major news networks begs the question — does bias in reporting across news networks affect elections? It’s hard to tell, but in the case of MSNBC, it may be fair to say viewers of their network were more likely to vote for Obama through the primaries and the general election of 2008.
As previously mentioned, many Americans question the information they see from news networks, especially MSNBC. MSNBC has had accusations and moments of bias favoring Democrats, even warranting former President Trump to refer to the network as ‘MSDNC.’ But the question still stands: is MSNBC trustworthy?
Ad Fontes Media, a company founded in 2018, runs on the sole purpose of making “news consumers smarter and news media better.” Occasionally Ad Fontes will release what they refer to as the Media Bias chart, which has recently been updated to version 7.0. Finding MSNBC on this chart, their television program sits in the “hyper-partisan left” category and the “analysis OR high variation in reliability” category. On the other hand, MSNBC’s website straddles the line between “skews left” and “hyper-partisan left”, as well as the line between “fact reporting” and “mostly analysis OR mix of fact reporting and analysis.”
Based on this, it’s safe to assume that MSNBC may not be the best source for getting cut-and-dry news, but it is a good source for American progressives who want to hear analysis and opinions on trending issues or topics.