MSNBCPOLITICO: A commanding presence for Politico on the left’s favorite cable news channel

Jeff Poor | Media Reporter

Has MSNBC opened a bureau in Arlington, Virginia?

Watch the assertively liberal cable news channel on an average day, and you’re likely to see someone from Politico appearing on-screen with the publication’s newsroom and logo in the background — perhaps on multiple occasions.

An analysis of one week of MSNBC’s broadcasts, starting at 6 a.m. Monday, Nov. 7 and ending Sunday, Nov. 13 at 12 p.m., identified at least 24 appearances by Politico reporters and editors. MSNBC has allotted regular segments to Politico during its broadcast day, including the “Political Playbook” segment on “Morning Joe” and the “Political Briefing” segment on “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”

But even without those two regular segments, the newsroom studio in Politico’s suburban Virginia headquarters is a regular fixture on MSNBC’s air. Over the course of last week, the majority of MSNBC’s daily shows — nine out of 16 — showcased at least one Politico employee.

The relationship between the two media outlets extends beyond merely inviting Politico’s reporters on MSNBC. On March 30, during an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated radio show, Politico editor-in-chief John Harris defended NBC News, MSNBC and “Hardball” host Chris Matthews against charges that the cable channel’s left-leaning hosts could unfairly influence his organization’s news coverage, particularly because Politico and MSNBC co-hosted a Republican presidential debate.

“Well, I just don’t accept the premise and I don’t accept your premise about Chris Matthews, who I admire,” Harris said. “In any event, Chris Matthews is not the moderator of this debate — Brian Williams, who is going to be bringing his journalistic reputation, his journalistic values to bear, just as I will be, Hugh, as the other moderator.”

Not exclusive to MSNBC

Despite the close ties to MSNBC, Politico reporters do appear on other cable channels. Politico’s Kenneth Vogel, for example, is a regular guest on Current TV’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” Politico national political reporters Alexander Burns and David Catanese, and Politico White House reporter Joe Williams, have also appeared on that effervescently left-wing cable program.

Other Politico reporters have appeared on CNN, especially in the weeks since Politico first reported sexual harassment allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

No Politico reporters on Fox

One network that does not host Politico reporters is Fox, the largest cable news network. A search of Fox News Channel transcripts indicates it has been 18 months — going back to May 2010 — since a Politico reporter or editor has appeared on its programs. The reason? According to a Fox News representative, Politico reporters do not appeal to Fox’s audience. “We try to book guests that make for compelling TV; Politico reporters tend not to rate well,” a Fox News spokesperson told The Daily Caller.

Fox News hosts have also openly criticized Politico. “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy has attacked the news outlet on multiple occasions, calling Politico a “left-wing blog” in December 2010.

Allegations of liberal bias

Others outside of Fox have charged Politico with having a left-of-center bias as well, especially in the wake of its coverage of the Cain scandal. Politico published more than 90 stories on the topic in the first five days of the story. By the end of the first week, according to one online count, Politico had published a total of 138 Cain-related stories; during the same period, the publication ran only nine stories about the Solyndra loan-guarantee scandal that has dogged the Obama administration, and just three about the equally contentious Operation Fast and Furious.

“Sadly, Herman Cain’s predictions have come true,” Media Research Center Brent Bozell said in a statement last week. “In May he stated that he was ‘ready for the same high-tech lynching that [Clarence Thomas] went through — for the good of this country.’ That’s what Politico is doing with its unsubstantiated and thoroughly hypocritical hit piece against him.”

Even before the Cain sexual-harassment story, critics accused Politico of sympathizing with liberal causes. In 2009, then-Politico media reporter Michael Calderone wrote that Ben Smith, Mike Allen and Lisa Lerer — all Politico news personnel — participated “with several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics” in the liberal JournoList online discussion forum.

Despite these and other allegations of bias, Politico has continued to insist that its coverage — and that of the mainstream press more generally — is non-ideological and non-partisan.

“Yes, in the closing weeks of this election, John McCain and Sarah Palin are getting hosed in the press, and at Politico,” Politico co-founders John Harris and Jim VandeHei wrote during the 2008 presidential election. “We’d take an educated guess — nothing so scientific as a Pew study — that Obama will win the votes of probably 80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election. … [But] of the factors driving coverage of this election … ideological favoritism ranks virtually nil.”

Politico did not respond on Friday afternoon to The Daily Caller’s questions about its relationship with MSNBC.

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