A former MNSBC producer said she left the network last month because it consistently aired news reports lacking context and too often focused on President Donald Trump.
“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,” Ariana Pekary, who helped produce “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell,” said in a blog post explaining her move.
The open note is unusual in the broadcasting world, where employees who leave jobs typically stay silent.
MSNBC and other cable news networks are hyper-focused on ratings, which drives decisions on what to cover and how to cover them, adding that “it’s taboo to discuss how the ratings scheme distorts contents.” The result is a “cancer” that “stokes national division, even in the middle of a civil rights crisis,” Pekary alleged.
“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.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, MSNBC continues focusing on Trump instead of scientific updates, causing “important facts or studies” to get buried, Pekary continued.
Producers will the vast majority of time choose what to run based on what’s trending or what rated well the day before, according to the former producer.
MSNBC, which is owned by NBCUniversal, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Sasha Walek, a former producer for MSNBC and CNN, said on Twitter that she wished she was brave enough to write something like what Pekary did when she left cable news.
“While many smart & well intentioned people work in news, nuanced discourse & reporting has been sacrificed for ratings. Sowing division & hyperpartisanship is highly profitable,” she said.
Author and reporter Matt Taibbi, who in his book “Hate Inc.” delved into issues with the media in the current era, shared the blog post, adding that it mirrored what he wrote about.
The news business is “now designed to ‘comfort’ and retain audiences, not inform them,” he said.