When William Arkin, a veteran national security reporter with NBC News and MSNBC, wrote his resignation email last week and shared it with his colleagues. It was then leaked to other news outlets.

Among Arkin's criticisms of his former employer and other mainstream media outlets are: that by incessantly covering the presidency of Donald Trump, the network is being held hostage by Trump; that in its reflexively anti-Trump coverage, it has become even more pro-military; that NBC and MSNBC are now captives of the security state.

Among Arkin's criticisms of his former employer and other mainstream news outlets in the US is that it's become pro-military and suffers from the perils of 'Trump Derangement Syndrome', which is the impulse to oppose any and all the president's policies, regardless of their merit.

"Everything's just so anti-Trump, there's no conversation about whether or not these are actually positions that have merit," Anoa Changa, host of The Way with Anoa, points out. "There is no conversation about whether or not we should have even gone into Syria whether or not it's even legal. We don't see like actual coverage of what's happening except for to condemn the president for not wanting to be there."

Columnist Eric Alterman believes that "everything about Bill Arkin's critique with regard to the mainstream media's treatment of President Donald Trump is false. The idea that they are anti-Trump. Well, no. They are in the business of telling the truth and Trump is in the business of lies. In the past month alone, according to The Washington Post, he has told an average of 15 lies a day."

Like all three US 24-hour news channels, MSNBC hires former military and intelligence figures, many of them now employed by the defence and security industries. The networks call them 'analysts', which is misleading because many of them are advocates.

According to Arkin, the preponderance of those voices and how much airtime they are given on stories such as Trump's recent decision to pull out of the Syrian conflict, are evidence that US news networks have become captives of the security state.

In his early days on television, many commentators "were from the academic world", explains Arkin. "There were others who were activists. Now, all we hear are retired generals and admirals and high-level government officials ... And all we hear is a kind of partisan analysis of how bad Trump is because he's breaking with past administration policy or whatever. The American public suffers."

Cenk Uygur, creator and host of The Young Turks, says: "The corporate media is massively pro-war. So when you combine those two forces of being against Donald Trump and pro-war when he announces withdrawal they hate it and they fight him with a passion that you haven't seen in a long time."

MSNBC can live with the criticism and just point to the ratings, which show a clear appetite for anti-Trump TV. Viewers clearly don't mind the pro-war bias and happily take in political talking points from former Trump officials who have left the administration.

Last month, for the first time in 17 years, MSNBC won the rating war with Fox, attracting more viewers in the key demographic that advertisers want.


Eric Alterman - columnist, The Nation
William Arkin - former defence reporter, NBC News
Anoa Changa - host, The Way with Anoa
Aaron Mate - journalist
Cenk Uygur - creator and host, The Young Turks

Source: Al Jazeera