Study: Fox & MSNBC Became More Extreme As Campaign Ended

It shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that the two cable networks known principally for being propaganda mills became more extreme in the closing days of the Presidential campaign:

Fox News and MSNBC became even more extreme in their coverage of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during the final days of the 2012 campaign, according to a new study out Monday.

On MSNBC, negative coverage of Romney jumped from 57 percent for most of October to 68 percent from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5, while Fox News’s negative coverage of Obama increased from 47 percent to 56 percent in the last week, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism survey found.

Meanwhile, MSNBC’s positive coverage of Obama grew from 33 percent to 51 percent during that last week and Fox News’s favorable Romney coverage increased from 34 percent of segments to 42 percent.

Like I said, no surprise. I spent most of the campaign, and election night, watching CNN if only to avoid the annoyances on the two propaganda channels. There simply isn’t anything worth watching on Fox, and outside of Morning Joe and Chuck Todd, MSNBC is simply unwatchable.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    I still like Chris Matthews but only because I’m an aficionado of crazy. Laurence O’Donnell is a very smart guy with deep legislative experience — who unfortunately beats things to death. Rachel Maddow is likewise very smart, but is so sold on her own gamine quirkiness that she gets in the way of her own stories. Ed Schultz is an angry liberal gasbag – the equivalent of Limbaugh. And Reverend Al? Well, he’s actually pretty smart but he remains, sadly, Reverend Al.

    I’d watch CNN more but I cannot stand Blitzer. That’s not about politics, he just bugs me. And Fox is retarded.

  2. @michael reynolds:

    CNN should make CNN International available to US cable subscribers. Of course, if they did that, then people would realize how much the American CNN stinks by comparison

  3. john personna says:

    “principally for being propaganda mills?”

    And yet OTB watches Morning Joe? Ah, but maybe I answer my own questions. I turned off Morning Joe as he became more extreme, as the campaign ended.

  4. john personna says:

    (Typically we can choose an MSNBC show which is center-ish, like the normal Morning Joe. It is not all Chris Matthews, all the time. That might be the difference between it and Fox. Or, can someone suggest a center-ish show in that venue?)

  5. Erik Berls says:

    Fox: American Dad, The Simpsons, and -3- “cooking” shows*!

    * Heh, I kid, MasterChef is probably the only one of food related ones worth watching.

  6. mantis says:

    All US cable news is crap. Don’t watch it if you value your sanity.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    CNN International is my lifeline when I’m overseas. Pretty much every hotel carries it, along with BBC.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    Oh, and we don’t get Morning Joe out here on the west coast unless you’re up at 4:00 AM.

  9. LaMont says:

    Yes, MSNBC is a liberal biased station. However, It is in no way the opposing equivalent of fox news. NO WAY!

  10. Andre Kenji says:

    The problem of CNN International is that their line up is organized around Asian and European Time Zones. Some of their best shows are aired in the middle of the afternoon in EST(it´s their European Primetime), during prime time in EST all they have to show are the morning shows for the Asian continent.

  11. mattb says:


    Yes, MSNBC is a liberal biased station. However, It is in no way the opposing equivalent of fox news. NO WAY!

    At least not yet.

    Though give it enough time, enough success, and enough competition from Current (which is far more partisan left) and there’s a good chance it will continue to shift leftward.

    What will be the real sign is what they replace Morning Joe with when he leaves the network.

  12. Todd says:

    Does anybody remember when news (even on cable) used to cover more than just politics?

  13. Gromitt Gunn says:

    BBC World FTW.

  14. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Lowest common denominator principle.

  15. Whitfield says:

    @michael reynolds: I don’t know about Chris: here lately he looks and acts like he is going to blow a gasket and go off the deep end. He needs to calm down some and cool off. All this junk isn’t worth getting upset over. I long for the days of Conkrite, Reasoner, Brinkley, Severied, and Haywood Hale Broun.

  16. swearyanthony says:

    From what I have seen of Chris Hayes show I like it. Yes he has a point of view, but he will also engage in longer discussions of policy issues, not just 5 minutes of talking points.

  17. Fiona says:

    I like Chris Hayes as well. Very smart and does tend to deal with issues in greater depth than most TV news hacks. Morning Joe has it’s moments. I’ll also watch Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow on occasion.

    I used to watch more CNN than anything else but kind of got tired of their attempts to balance one talking head against the other. Too many useless shouting matches.

  18. Tillman says:

    I stopped watching 24-hour cable news altogether about a year ago. Fox and I disagree on reality, CNN and I disagree on relevance, and MSNBC and I disagree on emphasis.

    I was briefly tempted on Election Night to tune in, but the cable box was on the fritz. This turned out to be a blessing as I got to bed early that night, and enjoyed some of the best sleep of my entire life.

  19. Murray says:

    All cable news is just pointless crap with hardly any news value. I’ll stick with the BBC and a few newspapers.

  20. ozarkHillbilly says:

    If you guys just stopped watching cable news altogether you IQ would jump 5 points in 24 hrs 😉

    As to

    Fox News’s favorable Romney coverage increased from 34 percent of segments to 42 percent.

    I did not know that was even possible.

  21. bill says:

    but who watches msnbc for news? ’nuff said!

  22. MBunge says:

    The thing that separates Fox and MSNBC is that one makes shit up and the other doesn’t. While I think we really are losing something in the decline of “objective journalism era”, the truth of the matter is that you can be biased all the live long day as long as you’re constrained by the facts. MSNBC may over-emphasize certain stories, but they have yet to start ginning up garbage out of thin air the way Fox does.