It isn’t just the left that is cheering Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly this morning, a day after she gave former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz Cheney a sound grilling over Iraq, many on the right suspicious of an interventionist foreign policy are cheering her as well.
On Wednesday night, Kelly hosted the Cheney’s for what was billed as a discussion about their new political initiative aimed at crafting criticisms of President Barack Obama’s present approach to foreign policy. While there is much that is worthy of criticism in Obama’s handling of foreign affairs, some, including AllahPundit, wondered if the Cheneys could serve as helpful messengers.
Kelly brought those concerns directly to the Cheneys. After reading a portion of a brutal op-ed which essentially accused Cheney of setting in motion the events which have led to the present chaos in Iraq, Kelly voiced her own criticism of the former vice president.
“Time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir,” she said
That’s a little harsh, and it’s certainly a debatable point, but the substance of this interview is not what struck me. What was important, and is frankly undervalued by the rest of the political press, is how frequently the supposedly conservative news network veers off what many believe is their script. What’s more, when this sort of contentious interview with a prominent Republican occurs, Fox is rewarded for it by their core audience.
The opposite is not the case, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey on cable news viewers’ satisfaction with the product they are consuming:
One thing that differs when it comes to MSNBC is that it does not draw the same uniformly positive reviews from consistent liberals that FNC does from consistent conservatives. While nearly half (45%) of consistent liberals view MSNBC favorably, that’s not much better than how MSNBC rates among those with mixed ideological views (38%). Nearly half of consistent liberals offer no opinion of MSNBC. By contrast, the vast majority of consistent conservatives offer an opinion of Fox News, with 74% favorable and just 5% unfavorable.
“When MSNBC President Phil Griffin decided to turn his network into a liberal answer to Fox News, he was betting that there was a progressive audience out there to match the conservative faithful on the other side,” Politico’s Dylan Byers reacted. “But people don’t simply watch opinion channels because the programming matches their partisan views. The programming has to be compelling.”
Yes, but it’s more than that. Having watched MSNBC evolve as a network over the last two years, it seems to me that their every answer to ratings challenges is strive to be even more predictable. It has become increasingly rare for an MSNBC host to go off the reservation of progressive thought.
Kelly’s interview of the Cheneys was compelling, but it was also contentious and tension makes for good television. It is possible that MSNBC’s core audience simply does not appreciate having the members of their “team” challenged by those who are supposedly on their side. When was the last time you saw Chris Hayes or Rachel Maddow interrogate a Democratic officeholder from the right?