Huffington Post (okay I know the name changed to Huff Post two weeks ago but indulge me, because we need to consistently honor Ariana Huffington’s initial vision for this project, because when she conceived the site we didn’t have a liberal alternative to so many well-developed conservative web portals.) has an interesting in-depth look at how MSNBC has gradually converted from a progressive TV network to a mainstream one using conservative hosts. Most interesting to me is the awarding of a new show to Nicole Wallace, former George W. Bush operative and wife of south Floridian Mark Wallace, a certified neoconservative who never met a Middle Eastern conflict he didn’t want the US to play an active role in. MSNBC’s rise to prominence on the left had to do with one factor and one factor alone – Former prime time host Keith Olbermann’s opposition to the Iraq War and the impact his show had on rallying the resistance at that time and spawning new stars from his show such as Rachel Maddow and Steve Kornacki.
In the run up to the Iraq War, MSNBC like many on American TV were favorable to the neoconservative policies in the Middle East. Phil Donahue’s show was cancelled for his opposition to the war and Ashleigh Banfield was demoted for giving a speech questioning the war. But Olbermann’s tenor changed the network and sustained it as a strong voice for good through much of the Obama Presidency.
Today, CNN is borderline hysterical about anything President Trump says or does. Perhaps its that hysteria that motivates MSNBC to essentially “trade places” with CNN and occupy the space that the network of Don Lemon, Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper is vacating in the middle? Keeping an eye on these developments will be most fascinating.