March 21, 2013

MSNBC sustained a news-cycle-spanning body blow early this week, as the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism issued a study comparing the ratio of opinion to “factual reporting” of the major cable news networks. Whereas Fox News and CNN were pretty evenly divided between these two critical categories, MSNBC appeared guilty of a massive imbalance, 85 percent to 15 percent in favor of opinion.

Oh boy, have critics enjoyed the data. On Fox News, Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer used it to fashion yet another slam on MSNBC. Twitter, as it always does, took note:

 

 

 

The study raises a pivotal question: What is MSNBC’s opinion on all of this? Does it buy the conclusions? Does it buy the methodology? Here’s how the study rated content: “An individual story was considered commentary or opinion if 25% of the time if that story included opinionated statements. Otherwise, the story was coded for being a factual reported piece.” That fair?

The Erik Wemple Blog has pushed MSNBC this week for a response to the Pew numbers. Lauren Skowronski, a MSNBC spokeswoman, e-mailed us this afternoon: “We don’t (haven’t and don’t plan to) comment on Pew reports.”

Sounds like a policy. And every policy has an exception. Last November, Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism published a study concluding that MSNBC and Fox News had intensified their respective political tilts in the critical weeks just before the 2012 presidential election.

So that was a Pew report. MSNBC President Phil Griffin commented at length about the study in a chat with the Erik Wemple Blog. “Seriously, seriously,” scoffed Griffin. ”They do their studies….Whatever metric they use for this study is absurd.”

Probably safe to conclude that those words pretty well sum up Griffin’s feelings about this latest Pew report.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.