It happened yet again this week. Even as a former Governor tried to make his case by using factually incorrect statements, Joy-Ann Reid shut him down without hesitation. Not only did she have the inherent background knowledge to spot his misinformation, she had the fortitude to jump in and cut him off and set him straight. This was even better than when Reid had dropped “No ma’am!” on a guest a few weeks ago who thought she could get away with similar disinformation. Joy’s approach on MSNBC has been stunning, if only because it’s been happening on cable news.
Whether those involved want to admit it or not, cable news loves the idea of finding a way to cover their bases with the various segments of their audience. And for networks like MSNBC and CNN, that means selling out to those in the middle who believe every story should be treated as if it were 50-50 whether it is or not.
If the facts of a particular news story happen to heavily side with one candidate in an election while making clear that the other candidate is simply making things up, there are those viewers who simply don’t want to hear it. If you report the factually supported truth, they view you as biased in favor of whichever side the truth happens to support on that issue. If you merely relay what both sides have to say without bothering to poke holes in the side that’s lying, that’s what the false-equivalency viewers want to hear. But it appears Joy Reid simply has no interest in allowing that to happen.
In the past week a number of on-air personalities on CNN and MSNBC have finally begun at least mildly pushing back against what is now a nearly nonstop parade of factually false claims coming from the Donald Trump surrogates who appear on air. I’m relieved that they’re finally doing their jobs for the first time in this election, but I’m not impressed. Now that the majority of Americans appear to have concluded that Trump and his people are full of it, it’s become safe for reporters to hit back.
In contrast, Joy-Ann Reid has been pushing back against the false claims of the guests and surrogates on her show for as long as she’s had a show. And it’s not specific to the Trump campaign’s lies. There’s no way a Hillary Clinton surrogate would be able to get any disinformation past her either. Reid has become the new standard bearer for hard hitting cable news journalism, not in the “in your face” kind of way, but more like a friendly mild mannered referee who doesn’t hesitate to throw a flag as needed.
So what now? As the election seems to be entering a stage where real-time fact checking of guests by cable news reporters appears to be increasingly smiled upon, one can only hope that Reid’s brand of journalism takes hold. Her stock at MSNBC appears to be rising, as she was recently tapped to fill in for one of its prime time shows. My readers at Daily News Bin keep telling me they hope to see her in a more prominent role. I’m inclined to agree.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report