These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward liberal causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage liberal causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy. See all Left Bias sources.
- Overall, we rate MSNBC Left Biased based on story selection that consistently favors the establishment left. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to news hosts and the website producing 3 pants on fire claims.
Factual Reporting: MIXED
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
Founded in 1996 and based in New York City, MSNBC is an American basic cable and satellite television network that provides news coverage on current events. They are owned by NBCUniversal News Group, a division of NBCUniversal, which is both owned by Comcast. Outside of news reporting, MSNBC features hosted news programs such as “All In with Chris Hayes”, “Hardball with Chris Matthews”, “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell”, and “The Rachel Maddow Show”, hosted by liberal pundit Rachel Maddow. MSNBC also has moderate conservatives, namely Morning Joe’s, Joe Scarborough, co-hosted by liberal commentator Mika Brzezinski.
Funded by / Ownership
The MSNBC news outlet was established in 1996 by a merger between Microsoft (MS) and NBC. In 2005, Microsoft ended their partnership with MSNBC TV, but the web partnership remained until 2012 when Microsoft and NBC completely separated from each other. NBC was owned jointly by Comcast and GE until 2011, at which time Comcast completed its merger with NBC Universal, becoming sole owner. The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Comcast is Brian L. Roberts, which was founded by his father, Ralph J. Roberts. MSNBC is funded through advertising and cable/satellite broadcasting fees.
Analysis / Bias
In review, MSNBC uses strong emotional loaded headlines such as this “GOP senator says he’s ‘concerned’ Trump was ‘involved in a crime” and “Cohen gets 3 years in jail for covering up Trump’s ‘dirty deeds’”. Generally, story selection favors the Left, however, they are also occasionally criticized by left-leaning organizations. For example, according to Fair.org, MSNBC did not dedicate much airtime to the West Virginia Teachers Strike until after the fair.org article was published. Further, Salon published an article criticizing MSNBC for employing “Republican Never Trump” type of conservatives. According to the article, they are “Loading up on semi-repentant conservatives and ignoring the activist left, MSNBC is doing the nation a disservice.” In other words, MSNBC is so focused on negative coverage of President Trump, that they are ignoring the progressive left and actually moving right. However, as a whole, according to Pew Research Center, MSNBC is favored by a liberal audience, which indicates content and story selection tends to lean left to appeal to their core viewers. Further, MSNBC frequently reports negatively on progressive candidates. Lastly, in a 2018 survey conducted by the Knight Foundation/Gallup, they found that the public rates MSNBC the 3rd most biased media source (left) behind Fox News and Breitbart (right).
When reporting news, MSNBC mainly provides video clips from reporters in the field. Text-based news comes directly from the Left-Center NBC News website. When reporting straight news stories MSNBC is highly factual and well-sourced, as they use NBC News as their primary source, however, due to some of the guest political pundits spreading misinformation on their daily programs, we cannot rate MSNBC High for factual reporting on a whole.
A 2014 Pew Research Survey found that 48% of MSNBC’s audience is consistently or mostly liberal, 33% Mixed and 18% consistently or mostly conservative. This indicates that MSNBC is preferred by a more liberal audience.
A factual search reveals that MSNBC has failed fact checks, however, most of these come from Political Pundits who appear on their various TV Shows and not related to straight news reporting. News anchors and the website have also failed fact checks such as these:
- Says Walmart is “one of the largest sellers of assault-style weapons.” – False
- Says Charlie Crist’s campaign bashed Sen. Bill Nelson’s “big-government solutions.” – False
- Says President Donald Trump is “talking about exterminating Latinos.” – Pants on Fire
- “Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. The U.S. population is 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million and still have money left over.” – Pants on Fire
- Joy Reid claimed the pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer “were not involved in Operation Warp Speed.” – False
- “The Rachel Maddow Show,” MSNBC and the show claimed achieving herd immunity would kill roughly 6.4 million Americans. – False
Overall, we rate MSNBC Left Biased based on story selection that consistently favors the establishment left. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to news hosts and the website producing 3 pants on fire claims. (5/13/2016) Updated (M. Huitsing 03/10/2020)