An MSNBC producer who resigned from the network a bit over a week ago wrote a blistering open letter on Monday, explaining why she quit.
Spoiler: She could not have been more spot on.
Ariana Perkary, who described herself as an “integral member” of MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” posted the letter on her personal website.
She began by sharing advice she has received from colleagues who have long been aware of her dissatisfaction with the left-wing network.
That’s the advice Alec gave a year and a half ago when I expressed concerns about my job.
“You just quit. It’s that simple.”
“Stay at MSNBC at least until the midterms,” Jeffrey said a couple years back. He advised to watch and see what happens.
“Hang in there… you’re needed,” Elizabeth recommended last winter. “I was in your shoes when I was younger but I stuck it out.”
A year and a half ago, simply quitting my job without knowing my next step sounded pretty radical. So I stuck it out a bit longer until we were in the middle of a pandemic to make a truly radical move.
Incidentally, it should be noted that Lawrence O’Donnell has described himself as a flat-out “Socialist” — no “Democratic” qualifier — and “far to the Left,” long before Socialism was cool in the Democrat Party.
MSNBC producer resigns from network with scathing letter: They block 'diversity of thought' and 'amplify fringe voices' https://t.co/ATuhE7WmW1
— Abigail Marone (@abigailmarone) August 4, 2020
Finally, on July 24, Perkary pulled the trigger.
July 24th was my last day at MSNBC. I don’t know what I’m going to do next exactly but I simply couldn’t stay there anymore. My colleagues are very smart people with good intentions. The problem is the job itself. It forces skilled journalists to make bad decisions on a daily basis.
You may not watch MSNBC but just know that this problem still affects you, too. All the commercial networks function the same — and no doubt that content seeps into your social media feed, one way or the other.
It’s possible that I’m more sensitive to the editorial process due to my background in public radio, where no decision I ever witnessed was predicated on how a topic or guest would “rate.”
The longer I was at MSNBC, the more I saw such choices — it’s practically baked into the editorial process — and those decisions affect news content every day.
Likewise, it’s taboo to discuss how the ratings scheme distorts content, or it’s simply taken for granted, because everyone in the commercial broadcast news industry is doing the exact same thing.
Perkary said a ‘high profile TV veteran” once told her, “We are a cancer and there is no cure. But if you could find a cure, it would change the world.” She added: “As it is, this cancer stokes national division, even in the middle of a civil rights crisis.”
And of course it’s always about the ratings.
“The model blocks diversity of thought and content because the networks have incentive to amplify fringe voices and events, at the expense of others… all because it pumps up the ratings.”
As noted by Fox News, Perkary used the cancer analogy to describe MSNBC’s coverage of the Wuhan virus — and she was blunt.
“This cancer risks human lives, even in the middle of a pandemic. The primary focus quickly became what Donald Trump was doing (poorly) to address the crisis, rather than the science itself. As new details have become available about antibodies, a vaccine, or how COVID actually spreads, producers still want to focus on the politics. Important facts or studies get buried.
This cancer risks our democracy, even in the middle of a presidential election. Any discussion about the election usually focuses on Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, a repeat offense from 2016 (Trump smothers out all other coverage). Also important is to ensure citizens can vote by mail this year, but I’ve watched that topic get ignored or ‘killed’ numerous times.”
How MSNBC Views Its Audience: “Context and factual data are often considered too cumbersome for the (MSNBC) audience,” Perkary wrote, while quoting a ““senior producer” as telling her, “Our viewers don’t really consider us the news. They come to us for comfort.”
Perkary included a quote from novelist James Baldwin at the top of her open letter: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” She ended the letter with this: “More than ever, I’m craving a full and civil discourse.”
Heady stuff. Baldwin was right, of course. But what about the “full and civil discourse” Perkary “craves”?
Is it possible in today’s toxic political environment of deep division, racial strife, personal attacks, and win at all cost — even if you have to destroy the other side to do so? Gleefully so, at times?
Is it possible, given that cable news networks — like all television networks — are firstly interested in ratings, and know full well that the best way to achieve those ratings is by preaching to their choir — and increasing the size of that choir as much as possible?
Is it possible, given that the various choirs dutifully flock to their respective networks of record, day after day, choosing only to be preached to by preachers they want to hear preach, who deliver the same sermons, night after night, they want to hear?
I’ll leave those answers to others. For now, at least.
And as for MSNBC, now what?
The Bottom Line: Now that Ariana Perkary has come forward and told us what we already knew, that her former network is driven by hopelessly-predisposed liberal bias, will other MSNBCers do the same?
Will CNN’s left-wing “partner in crime” change its ways, or at least pretend to do so? I’ll “go out on a limb” and suggest we’re more likely to see Michael Moore announce that he’s taking skydiving lessons.