You know my general feelings about MSNBC. It has become too much of a mouthpiece of the Democratic Party. And like the Democratic Party, it lacks backbone and shows no loyalty whatsoever. This was clear when they fired Alec Baldwin, whose show wasn’t all that good anyway, but it was certainly better than Lockup that it replaced and was replaced by. Then there was the totally unacceptable firing of Martin Bashir. The network has the same non-offensive air that many people hate about the Democratic Party. It is also the reason that politicians like Ted Kennedy and Alan Grayson stand out.
Well, it would seem that MSNBC does have a backbone after all. It is just the backbone of top management and what they really care about. This was totally on display with the firing of MSNBC commentator Rula Jebreal. Her firing was the result of attacking the network’s biased coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. What’s shocking is that she said it on Ronan Farrow’s show—who would have known anyone actually watches that show? This immediately caused her booked appearances on a number of upcoming shows to be canceled.
Max Blumenthal at AlterNet has all the details, “Witch Hunt”: Fired MSNBC Contributor Speaks Out on Suppression of Israel-Palestine Debate. Jebreal said that she has been complaining in private to the network for the last two years with no change. What she said on the air was not different than what she has been saying privately. Blumenthal continued:
When Chris Hayes had her on to discuss the firing, he did not do himself proud. He defended the network and said that of course it was going to protect its “stars.” This is in reference to Jebreal specifically mentioning Andrea Mitchell. But as Blumenthal noted, “MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough has publicly attacked fellow MSNBC hosts and slammed the network for its support for the Democratic Party.” Of course, I’m sure that gold ol’ Joe speaks for the top management at MSNBC. They have a quasi-liberal network because there is an audience for it; it doesn’t make them liberal. And clearly Rula Jebreal got too far outside their comfort zone.
My experience with MSNBC’s recent coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict is that at its best, it is even handed. It’s usual coverage is highly biased toward Israel. What’s especially terrible about this coverage, however, is that it is better than the networks, not to mention Fox News. What is considered balanced coverage in America is that this all started with some extremists kidnapping three Israeli kids and killing them. This eventually led to Hamas firing rocks into Israel, who had to respond and ain’t it sad that so many Palestinians are getting killed. So the start of the narrative is arbitrary and picked to favor Israel. And in a horrific irony, the people who killed those kids either did it hoping for financial gain and not as a political act (and thus weren’t extremists but just criminals), or did it as a political act hoping it would lead to what is happening right now.
Regardless of any of this, the firing of Jebreal shows a fundamental weakness in MSNBC. She was a commentator, not a reporter or an anchor. She’s supposed to have opinions. And she’s the only one that was willing to voice this particular opinion. It was a great opportunity to address the issue. But MSNBC, because it is both timid and disloyal, just shut down the conversation. But if you want good coverage on just about anything, but especially the Israel-Palestine conflict, you should be watching Al Jazeera America.
See also: Dehumanizing Iranians and Jews.