A new study by the Pew Research Center shows that while all of the big three cable news networks are increasingly focused on partisan talk and debate, MSNBC far outdistances both Fox News and CNN when it comes to commentary.
The Center’s 2013 State of the News Media report found that opinion accounted for 85 percent of MSNBC’s content, compared to 55 percent at Fox News and 46 percent at CNN. CNN was the only one of the big three cable news networks to have more straight reporting than opinion, despite cutting back on story packages and live event coverage by more than half between 2007 and 2012.
Overall, Pew found that on cable news in 2012, commentary and opinion was “far more prevalent on the air” than straight news reporting, with 63 percent of all air time dedicated to commentary, and just 37 percent to straight news reporting.
Reporting was definitely not big at MSNBC, with only 15 percent of its airtime devoted to news.
In 2009, then-White House Communications Director Anita Dunn created some controversy when she told Time magazine that Fox News is “opinion journalism masquerading as news,” and followed that up on CNN by saying that the network “often operates as the research arm of the Republican Party.”
It wasn’t true then and based on the Pew study, it isn’t true now. But what is true is that with MSNBC devoting nearly all of its airtime to commentary and opinion, they are acting more like an arm of the DNC than a legitimate news operation.