A former MSNBC producer slammed the cable news network for its deference to the Obama administration Monday, calling it the “official network of the Obama White House” in an op-ed posted on the Huffington Post.
Jeff Cohen served as a senior producer on Phil Donahue’s MSNBC show from 2002 to 2003, when it was canceled for being overly critical of the Bush administration’s case for war in Iraq. Cohen went on to support a variety of liberal causes, including the 2004 Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign.
The cable news veteran excoriated the network, which has fallen to last in the ratings, for muzzling its criticism of recently revealed government surveillance programs.
“When it comes to issues of U.S. militarism and spying, the allegedly ‘progressive’ MSNBC often seems closer to the ‘official network of the Obama White House’ than anything resembling an independent channel,” Cohen said.
Cohen blasted MSNBC for hypocritically defending the same abuses it once criticized President George W. Bush for committing, most grievously in the case of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Cohen pointed to Snowden as the latest example in a long trend of extreme prosecution of whistle-blowers by the Obama White House.
“Had McCain or Romney defeated Obama and implemented the exact same policies, treating whistle-blowers like Manning and Snowden as foreign espionage agents, one would expect MSNBC hosts to be loudly denouncing the Republican abuses of authority.”
The reality has been far different, however. While the White House has gone after whistle-blowers on a scale never seen before, according to Cohen, MSNBC pundits have either been silent or vigorous supporters of the policy.
From Rachel Maddow to Ed Schultz, Cohen called out a who’s who of MSNBC talking heads for their White House friendly rhetoric on the Snowden case. While Schultz simply labeled the leaker a “punk” and a “coward,” host Melissa Harris-Perry claimed Snowden proved he didn’t “love [his] country” when he failed to give himself up for trial.
“The Snowden/NSA story proves once again that — especially on so-called ‘national security’ issues — we need strong, independent media not enmeshed with the corporate/political power structure and not allied with one of the two corporate parties.”
Cohen closed his assault on the network with the warning, “all governments lie and nothing they say should be believed.”