A former MSNBC producer recently resigned from her job, making her the third major news personality to leave the job in the past month, and in a stinging letter explained why she refused to work there anymore.
“July 24 was my last day at MSNBC. I don’t know what I’m going to do next exactly, but I simply couldn’t stay there anymore,” Ariana Pekary wrote on her personal blog, reported Fox News. “My colleagues are very smart people with good intentions. The problem is the job itself. It forces skilled journalists to make bad decisions on a daily basis.”
Some personal news: why I’m now leaving MSNBC
It’s not the optimal time for change but the time doesn’t feel optional, anymore.https://t.co/HbZo0weiUs
— Ariana Pekary (@arianapekary) August 3, 2020
The former producer of the news-based TV channel gave some explanation on her website as to why she had resigned. “It’s possible that I’m more sensitive to the editorial process due to my background in public radio, where no decision I ever witnessed was predicated on how a topic or guest would ‘rate.'”
“The longer I was at MSNBC, the more I saw such choices—it’s practically baked into the editorial process—and those decisions affect news content every day,” Pekary said.
“Likewise, it’s taboo to discuss how the ratings scheme distorts content, or it’s simply taken for granted because everyone in the commercial broadcast news industry is doing the exact same thing. But behind closed doors, industry leaders will admit the damage that’s being done,” she wrote.
She referred to a quote from a “successful and insightful TV veteran” who said, “We are a cancer and there is no cure. … But if you could find a cure, it would change the world.”
Pekary used the “cancer” analogy to describe the station’s coverage of the CCP Virus pandemic, and also the recent riots and protests across the nation.
“The model blocks diversity of thought and content because the networks have incentive to amplify fringe voices and events, at the expense of others … all because it pumps up the ratings,” she said.
“This cancer risks human lives, even in the middle of a pandemic. The primary focus quickly became what Donald Trump was doing [poorly] to address the crisis, rather than the science itself. As new details have become available about antibodies, a vaccine, or how COVID [CCPvirus] actually spreads, producers still want to focus on the politics. Important facts or studies get buried,” Pekary explained, reported Fox News.
“This cancer risks our democracy, even in the middle of a presidential election. Any discussion about the election usually focuses on Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, a repeat offense from 2016 [Trump smothers out all other coverage]. Also important is to ensure citizens can vote by mail this year, but I’ve watched that topic get ignored or ‘killed’ numerous times.”
Ratings have become the all-important criteria for a story, regardless of the topic, occasionally something goes into print regardless of ratings, but that, said Pekary, is “the exception, not the rule.”
“I’ve even heard producers deny their role as journalists. A very capable senior producer once said, ‘Our viewers don’t really consider us the news. They come to us for comfort,'” Pekary wrote. “Now maybe we can’t really change the inherently broken structure of broadcast news, but I know for certain that it won’t change unless we actually face it, in public, and at least try to change it.”
Pekary was hoping readers would connect with her, and concluded by saying: “More than ever, I’m craving a full and civil discourse.”
Bari Weiss, the former New York Times op-ed staff editor who recently resigned from her job with the Times, was full of praise for Pekary’s “integrity” on social media.
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) August 3, 2020