MSNBC pulls a Sinclair, compares corporate owner Comcast to Nelson Mandela
In a ‘Morning Joe’ segment presented as news, Comcast forced its anchors to read a commercial for “Comcast Cares Day,” during which Al Sharpton compared the corporate giant’s social message to that of Nelson Mandela.
“We do this as a company because as a big company, as a big corporation, we certainly appreciate that we have a responsibility to give back to the communities,” Comcast Senior Executive Vice President David Cohen said. “When we’re organized like this, we can do 17 years of this incredible day of service, which has a huge impact on one day but is really a celebration of the fact that we care every day of the year.”
Other Comcast-owned NBC affiliates parroted the same message, including NBC 5 in Chicago, NBC 10 in Philadelphia, NBC 4 in Los Angeles and the Denver Post. Journalist Glenn Greenwald described the feel-good corporate plug as “creepy and humiliating,” while Adam Johnson, a writer with FAIR Media Watch, called the message “cultish.”
This is creepy & humiliating: MSNBC devotes almost 8 minutes of airtime on @Morning_Joe to heralding the humanitarianism of its corporate owner Comcast, complete with Comcast executives touting themselves under the chyron "COMAST CARES DAY" https://t.co/J9VoR0KYbg— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 22, 2018
Comcast property MSNBC having its nominally independent analysts and hosts doing a cultish Comcast commercial was bad enough but Al Sharpton claiming Comcast was carrying on the work of Nelson Mandela was uh something else https://t.co/KrE5X5BsN4pic.twitter.com/FLI3f116vs— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) April 22, 2018
WTF?! @comcast has monopolized our airwaves and pushed war and corporate exploitation at every step. They helped crush workers & net neutrality. Now they have the NERVE to air an 8-min ad on @MSNBC comparing themselves to Nelson Mandella? JAW-DROPPING! https://t.co/ELAnSlwZgM— Lee Camp [Redacted] (@LeeCamp) April 25, 2018
Earlier this month, anchors at hundreds of local news stations owned by the conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group read verbatim a script praising the “quality, balanced journalism” of local Sinclair stations, while bemoaning the “sharing of biased and false news” by national media. Internal documents called the campaign an "anchor-delivered journalistic responsibility message."
Sinclair was criticized for the move by other media outlets. An MSNBC segment pondered whether the Sinclair promo represented a “threat,” and described the script as a “dog whistle” to Trump supporters.
“As a journalist, I would assume you don’t listen to your corporate overlord,” MSNBC anchor Katy Tur said. “If somebody at the top of NBC or Comcast came to me and said, ‘Katy Tur, I want you to read this script exactly as it is,’ I would assume, I would hope that I would say: ‘I don’t agree with this...so I’m not going to do it.’”
Seemingly none of Tur’s colleagues felt the same when they read Comcast’s script on Friday.
For a corporation that boasts that it can help “be the generation that helps improve our world one community at a time,” Comcast regularly tops the lists of America’s most hated companies, scoring terribly in cost, performance, billing, customer support and reliability metrics. In 2016, the company was forced to pay a $2.3 million fine over allegations that it charged customers for unauthorized services and equipment.