Phil Griffin was only promoted to president of MSNBC last week, but he's already escalated the cable news network's feud with competitor Fox News Channel. That probably shouldn't be surprising given that Griffin is the chief patron of Keith Olbermann, the antagonist most detested by Fox. But Griffin's swipes at his competitor in the Kansas City Star are still startlingly raw: "You can't trust a word they say," Griffin said of Fox News. "THEY made the business decision to create an ideological network. We didn't. They were the ones that got in bed with the Bush Administration, so that most of the time, where did the Bush Administration officials come out and make their points? Fox News." Well, OK then! But isn't MSNBC adding a lot of left-wing opinion to its own newscasts, via Olbermann and others? Totally different, said Griffin:
They saw an opportunity years ago to create an ideological channel. And they did. I give them total credit. I tip my hat to them. They scored. But it was ideological and opportunistic. It was a business plan.
"We didn't do that. We go out and hire the best people that we can and give them freedom. Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann were arguing in point-of-view programs against the war when the war was popular. This wasn't a business decision. .... We're not tied to ideology the way they are. We're still NBC News, best newsgathering organization in the world, we have a couple of point-of-view people, but we have a variety of opinions you don't see elsewhere.
"But we're more fun. We're more interesting. We're smarter. We don't talk down to the audience...
I don't care if Obama wins or McCain wins, because I know we're in such a strong position we're going to continue to have success with whatever administration goes in there in 2009. I think they care."
So, in summary, MSNBC is different from Fox News because, while it has opinionated shows, there is no one opinion that pervades the network. Also, MSNBC is smarter and more fun, and also way hotter in a bikini, and more popular with the cool kids. Also, more mature. Better dresser.
But what's this about Fox deploying opinion as part of a "business plan?" So MSNBC is the one cable news network that acts independent of the ratings? The fact that Olbermann's "special comments" spiked viewership had nothing to do with that they got more frequent, and longer? Right.
In any case, something tells me a certain person is going to start appearing in Page Six a lot more often. And MSNBC may get a lot more interesting!