A FAIR question: Why is MSNBC silent about Obama’s kill list?

MSNBC: No Time for Obama’s Kill List
Dispatch from FAIR (Fairnes & Accuracy in Reporting)
Thank you, FAIR. With original comment thread. Note: We indicate our approval of comments by bolding them in green.)

Posted on 06/01/2012 by Peter Hart

The New York Times‘ lengthy report (5/29/12) on Barack Obama’s drone “kill list” should provoke serious questions: Is such a program legal? How does it square with Obama’s criticism of the Bush administration’s “war on terror” policies? What does it tell us about how the administration identifies “militants” who are targeted for assassination?

But those questions have been raised only in fits and starts–and are basically absent from the liberal cable news channel MSNBC. In fact, a far more interesting discussion of these questions can be heard on Fox News Channel.

It’s not all good on Fox, naturally. Host Bill O’Reilly and guest Dennis Miller (5/29/12) joked about  whether they were on the kill lists . Geraldo Rivera defended the program on Fox & Friends (6/1/12). Fox “liberal” Bob Beckel did the same on Fox‘s The Five (5/29/12):

To even suggest that somehow there is something wrong with a kill list, for you to suggest that shows you how rabidly anti-Obama you are.

Part of that discussion focused on what the reaction would be if we were reading about George W. Bush’s drone kill list–a contrast that was raised on other Fox shows, and a legitimate one.

That wasn’t just that angle that Fox covered, though. On Special Report (5/30/12), James Rosen looked at the White House’s “fuzzy math” at counting civilian deaths from drone strikes. A Special Report panel (5/29/12) used a soundbite from the ACLU to illustrate criticism from the left.

But what about the channel that would seem the natural place for some of that left-leaning analysis? MSNBC has been mostly quiet. A search of the Nexis news database turns up nothing on Obama’s kill list. The program Morning Joe had one discussion (5/29/12) where the panelists mostly supported the program, though host Joe Scarborough expressed some reservations.

What was more newsworthy? MSNBC‘s prime time shows seemed to have plenty of coverage of “birther” Donald Trump.

And it is worth noting one left-leaning TV host who did present a critical take on the Obama drone program was Current host Cenk Uygur (5/29/12). Some might remember that he briefly hosted a show on MSNBC but left amidst disputes over whether management wanted him to tone it down. Draw your own conclusions.

*Also: Kevin Gosztola has a good piece about drones and media coverage at FireDogLake (6/1/12). And it should be noted that ABC correspondent Jake Tapper (5/29/12) asked some strong questions to White House press secretary Jay Carney, particularly about civilian deaths and how the administration was defining “militants.” As best I can tell, Tapper’s exchange with Carney was not included in any ABC broadcasts, but can be viewed at the link above (starting around the 13:00 mark)

17 Responses to MSNBC: No Time for Obama’s Kill List?

  1. Karl Radek says:

    ..It is certainly permissible to be disgusted by the ceremony in the White House May 29 during which President Barack Obama, most notably, bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on singer Bob Dylan, but to borrow Spinoza’s phrase, it is perhaps better “to understand.”

    Dylan (born in 1941), a significant and oppositional cultural figure in the early and mid-1960s, along with novelist Toni Morrison and eleven others received the medals at Obama’s hands the same day the New York Times reported the president’s personal and apparently eager supervision of a “kill list,” a regularly updated chart of those to be illegally assassinated by the US military or CIA.

    Would this further and appalling confirmation that Obama was a war criminal have deterred Dylan, Morrison or any other of this year’s honorees from appearing at the White House? Most likely not. Administration officials no doubt make certain that those slated to receive the awards can be counted upon.

    No one in Obama’s entourage would care to see a repeat of the 1968 incident in which singer Eartha Kitt, invited to a White House luncheon, told Lady Bird Johnson—the president’s wife—to her face, “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed [in Vietnam]. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot.”

    Of course, among the recipients of the Medal of Freedom this year, in any case, were the current president’s fellow war criminals former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Israeli President Shimon Peres (not in attendance)…–David Walsh

  2. Well, it would be a bit jarring to juxtapose the moral turpitude of the Obama regime with the tsunami of “Hope and Change, the Sequel” adverts that will swamp MSNBC over the next few months, wouldn’t it?

    It was fun to play faux populist with the Occupy meme – ask MoveOn – and pretend to be miffed at Dear Misleader, but there’s a White House to win, and if truth is the first casualty of war, facts get offed off the bat come election time.

  3. Wortmanberg says:

    There is some validity to the charge that there is an official left or liberal intelligentsia which with varying degrees of bad faith works to vindicate the Democratic Party no matter what it or its members may do. MSNBC is in that camp, unfortunately.

  4. edwardh says:

    “And it is worth nothing […]

    What a nice little Freudian slip.
    Although one really should give Cenk credit for that. Because it is worth something, even though amidst a huge pile of bullshit, it may appear like almost nothing…

  5. fcfcfc says:


    You must remember that the whole Red- Blue “thing” is just an illusion put fourth to give people the idea that there is a difference. As I have said many, many times in recent history, it is all an illusion to give the masses the perception of choice for HOPE. The big “H” that is necessary to keep the big “R” from happening. When the masses finally catch on that the Red and Blue marionettes are all controlled by the same puppeteers, the worm will turn….


  6. Is this supposed to be surprising? All of the TV “news” stations are hawkish. We’re only seeing any push back on this from conservatives because it is politically convenient. More and more I think “liberal” in the MSM just means “socially liberal.” People like Rachel Maddow are pro-choice and pro-gay rights, but otherwise pretty happy with the installed power structure. All hope is lost, but that too should come as no surprise.

    PS: I like Cenk Uygur, be he too is surprisingly conservative. The fact that he is considered some kind of radical tells you all you have to know about modern America.

  7. richard barr says:

    I mostly feel that the MSNBC weekday evening shows, and to some degree the weekend morning shows, the ones on which the purportedly progressive hosts are supposedly freest to express opinions, are primarily about an endless “Republicans bad” mantra. Where it is possible for them to add “Democrats good” they will, otherwise they just won’t get into it.    The goal of exploring what ought to be the best policies, regardless of whether either of those two parties is pursuing them, is certainly not of primary importance to these hosts, particularly if that discussion makes the Democrats appear lacking. These folks would much rather keep ridiculing Republicans endlessly, something I would regard as going after low-hanging fruit.

  8. krissy says:

    MSNBC doesn’t want to confuse the voters before the election… they just want us to line up against romney. Obama was very irresponsible to do this because he knows more than anyone else what a republican will potentially do with this power. The least he can do is reassure Americans by reminding us that he currently holds the reins.

  9. ajamu chaminuka says:

    i’ve been living in europe for a year now and as i look across the water, i can’t believe how sick america is. my question is how long can the patient survive in that condition?

  10. Bonnie says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who noticed MSNBC, at least Rachel and Lawrence, the only ones I watch, has just become basically liberal outrage porn. Look what the stupid republicans did today. That’s IT. The exception is Chris Hayes. He talks about the drones, has Jeremy Scahill and Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald on and lets them criticize outside the lines. He also has on reasonable intelligent people from the right who present their actual side of things without getting yelled at and interrupted and asked the same leading question over and over.

  11. Pingback: Anti-America disillusioned with MSNBC?: No Time for Obama’s Kill List? « Simon Studio Analysis

  12. Doug Muder says:

    This would be a powerful election issue if Mitt Romney would come out and say that he won’t have a kill list, and that he’ll curtail drone strikes. But of course that won’t happen.

  13. Rafael says:

    Yeah, I noticed as well: on The Five that they weren’t so much aghast that Obama had a ‘hit list’ as they were aghast [supposedly] at his hypocrisy on the matter. Unfortunately I can only watch about five minutes of that program before I note the pressure building inside my head……

  14. Eli Stephens says:

    Alyona nailed it (as she so often does) on her “What the media chose to miss” segment on The Alyona Show on RT a few days ago, noting their obsession with Trump/birtherism and their pass on the kill list story: http://youtu.be/zkvFolTGwXE
    If you’re not watching The Alyona Show, you’re not watching the best news/commentary show on the “air” ( http://rt.com/on-air/rt-america-air/ )

  15. Pingback: Killing Me Softly With His Drone « The Confluence

  16. Martin Bring says:

    I suppose it is not for nothing that some journalists have referred to Obama, sometimes critically, sometimes fawningly, as Machiavellian.

  17. Vic Anderson says:

    Time to Re-define Obama then: What a Halfascist ASSASSOUL; der FUEHRERWARD Believes he can effect his FINAL SOLUTION to his Moslem problem One at A TIME! FOOL!!


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