MSNBC, Current TV compete to cover Occupy Wall Street protests

Keith Olbermann was the first cable news anchor to cover the anti-corporate protests, and he appears to be enjoying the moral high ground from which he preaches to — among others — his old bosses, Keach Hagey reports.

Behind Olbermann’s media critiques is a bit of rivalry with his former employer MSNBC, which a revamped Current TV is now competing directly against for progressive viewers at 8 p.m. Olbermann has lured several former MSNBC hosts to his new home, including Cenk Uygur and David Shuster and has been forthright about wanting to beat them.

Ed Schultz anchored his Wednesday program from the protests, after hearing populist critiques similar to his own from the growing crowd, his producer told Hagey.

The enthusiastic coverage from Current and MSNBC at times has seemed like a mirror image of Fox News’s cheerleading for the early tea party rallies, giving credibility to those who argue that the movement could be the left’s tea party. But those who are running the coverage deny that they have stepped over the line from journalism to activism.

“We were there covering the event to find out what the story was all about, not to promote a specific agenda that any of the protesters had last night,” said Rich Stockwell, the executive producer of “The Ed Show.” …

The conservative media watchdog the Media Research Center has been critical of how these stories were framed, pointing out that they didn’t label the protesters as “liberal” in the way that the mainstream media labeled the tea partiers as “conservative.”

MSNBC’s ratings have declined since Olbermann’s departure. | Arrests at OWS protest raise questions about NYPD press credential process (CJR) | Related: A Citizen’s Guide to Reporting on #OccupyWallStreet

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  • Anonymous

    MSNBC’s coverage of Occupy Wall Street doesn’t even come close to the media blitz that Fox News orchestrated  for the Tea Party. From the moment Rick Santelli’s rant first aired, Fox News became the Tea Party channel with almost 24/7 coverage of the Tea Party and endorsements from all of its prime time talking heads. OSW is still lucky if someone mentions them much less talks to them. 

    Don’t buy into the false equivalency that the MRC is throwing out into the mediascape like they always do and to which the Villagers always seem to fall prey. 

  • F. Douglas

    Sam Well’s description of what happened is not really accurate. Wells is trying to imply that the Fox producer was leading the tea party protesters in a chant as if she was endorsing their message. What she was doing was trying to rouse the crowd to cheer when her reporter went live on air to lend some excitement to the broadcast. Still, what she did was wrong, and Fox reprimanded her, as it should have. Accuracy is important, even in describing what happened at that event.

  • Sam Well

    The second someone catches a Current TV or MSNBC producer leading the OWS protesters in a chant the way Fox was busted this comparison will be valid. Until then, not so much.

  • Gabriel Sistare

    I’m not sure that a journalist or news outlet advocating for either the Tea Party or the #occupywallstreet protesters is responsible. The job is to just explain and illustrate each group and what they are trying to do. I would disagree with the Media Research Center’s complaint–that MSNBC didn’t label the protesters as liberal. To describe the protesters as just “liberal” is reductive. It seems more descriptive to exclude the label of liberal and to just explain the dimensions of the protest.