An MSNBC producer is blowing the whistle on the network’s agenda to divide the nation. Ariana Pekary penned a damning resignation letter Monday comparing broadcast news to a “cancer” that is stoking national division and risking people’s lives.
Pekary, one of the network’s top producers and primary producer on “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” explained that she “simply couldn’t stay there anymore” due to the journalistic failures that plague the network.
“The problem is the job itself,” she wrote on her website. “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
“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,’” she continued. “The longer I was at MSNBC, the more I saw such choices — it’s practically baked in to the editorial process – and those decisions affect news content every day. 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. ‘We are a cancer and there is no cure,’ a successful and insightful TV veteran said to me. ‘But if you could find a cure, it would change the world,’” she wrote.
“As it is, this cancer stokes national division, even in the middle of a civil rights crisis,” she wrote. “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.
“This cancer risks human lives, even in the middle of a pandemic,” she added. “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 actually spreads, producers still want to focus on the politics. Important facts or studies get buried.”
Pekary was apparently referring to media attacks on Trump and his support of treatments that media outlets and Facebook deemed “harmful” even as doctors across the nation support the treatments.
Pekary ended her letter by calling on journalists to acknowledge the “inherently broken structure” of broadcast news and to tackle it head-on and in public.
She then encouraged critics to reach out to her, adding, “more than ever, I’m craving a full and civil discourse.”