I don't think I need to explain why I think Fox News is an insult to the very concept of journalism. There is no reporting they offer, just poorly presented propaganda. I have written about Fox News before and don't find it necessary to repeat myself. Today, however, I caught myself in a realization that I dislike MSNBC just as much and for the same reasons.
As a progressively-minded individual I am supposed to like MSNBC and use them as one of my main news sources. And I honestly tried to join my fellow liberals in their love for this channel. Of course, there is no doubt in my mind that Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, Keith Olbermann and Co are better human beings and more intelligent journalists than Brit Hume, Bill O'Reilly, and all those other screamers from Fox News. But the journalism these people with opposing political views end up producing is, in my opinion, of equally low quality.
I can't applaud any journalist who faithfully reiterates the party line with a single-minded abandon of a religious fanatic and without questioning any part of said party agenda. I can't do it even when the party line in question coincides with my own political beliefs. "The-Democrats-are-the-anti-Christ" agenda of Fox News is just as disappointing in its simplistic attitude to reality as the MSNBC's "the-Republicans-are-the-anti-Christ" spiel.
Let's take Rachel Maddow, for example. I admire her a lot because it's impossible not to when seeing somebody so talented, beautiful, charming, and articulate. But has anybody noticed how much she has in common with Bill O'Reilly? Their politics are as different as night and day, of course, but their journalistic methods are eerily similar. It took me a while to notice this because as somebody who agrees with Maddow's politics, I am very inclined to admire her no matter what. Still, the more I watched her show on MSNBC, the more convinced I became that I'd already seen all these tricks somewhere else: the endless repetitions of very simple sentences of undisputed ideological power, the body language, the raised voice that keeps going up and up to accompany statements that become more simplified with each reiteration, an unwavering, fanatical party allegiance*. I knew I'd seen all that before. Finally, I couldn't keep hiding this from myself much longer: Maddow and O'Reilly have a lot more in common than their differing political view-points might lead us to expect.
I am convinced that progressive fanaticism is just as dangerous and scary as its conservative counterpart. There is nothing more terrifying than an unthinking agreement with any political agenda, irrespective of how attractive this particular agenda might look. Any thinking individual will unavoidably find him or herself in disagreement over a variety of subjects even with their closest allies. Intelligence always looks for its own way. Conformity is an impossible proposition for anybody who values their own intellectual independence. No promise of future political change can justify renouncing the right to one's own point of view.
This is why it's sad to see that these two major news stations have abandoned any attempt at real journalism in favor of spreading propaganda and ideological simplifications. Of course, that's easier than offering profound analysis, original thinking, difficult questions. Who needs to go to all that trouble when you can just repeat the same tired old mantras that the public is likely to eat up for lack of anything better anyways?
* Yes, this is just my opinion, like everything else on this blog (see the blog's header.) It will be fantastic if people avoid stating this very obvious fact of objective reality in the comments.