It's a good news/bad news kind of thing
According to this piece in the NY Times, MSNBC is looking to liberalize their nighttime television lineup in the wake of Keith Olbermann's ratings success. The article hints that MSNBC is in talks with Rosie O'Donnell to fill the slot after Olbermann, putting her up against CNN's Larry King and Faux News's Hannity and Colmes.
Of course, in this sort of discussion, perception is everything--one person's liberal is another's raging conservative, and both can be correct in their beliefs. But it seems this piece defines liberal in another way:
But even without Ms. O’Donnell, MSNBC already presents a three-hour block of nighttime talk — Chris Matthews’s “Hardball” at 7, Mr. Olbermann at 8, and “Live With Dan Abrams” at 9 — in which the White House takes a regular beating. The one early-evening program on MSNBC that is often most sympathetic to the administration, “Tucker” with Tucker Carlson at 6 p.m., is in real danger of being canceled, said one NBC executive, who, like those who spoke of Ms. O’Donnell, would do so only on condition of anonymity.
Having a prime-time lineup that tilts ever more demonstrably to the left could be risky for General Electric, MSNBC’s parent company, which is subject to legislation and regulation far afield of the cable landscape. Officials at MSNBC emphasize that they never set out to create a liberal version of Fox News.
In this context, it seems "left" means "beats up on the White House." If that's the case, then roughly 2/3 (I'm being generous) of the US population qualifies as "left."
Let's be frank here. No objective consideration of what would be considered liberal in today's media and political playground could include Joe Scarborough, and Chris Matthews would likely be on the outside of the fence, sulking and saying "I didn't want to play with them anyway." Olbermann's not even really that liberal--he's liberal in the Howard Dean-2004 way, which means he just decided he wasn't going to roll over for Republicans, the way so many others in his line of work had done since September of 2001. So while replacing Dan Abrams with Rosie O'Donnell, and canceling Tucker Carlson's miserable show might tilt the channel to the left a bit, it's not like MSNBC has been taken over by the hippies at Pacifica. And I wouldn't be a bit surprised if O'Donnell's new show--should it happen--was closer in style to Larry King than H&C, at least at first.
The article reiterates that opposition to Bush=liberal in media eyes, though, in its later comments about Joe Scarborough.
“I’m just as conservative as I was in 1994, when everyone was calling me a right-wing nut,” [Scarborough] said. “I think the difference is the Republican Party leaders, a lot of them, have run a bloated government, have been corrupt, and have gone a very, very long way from what we were trying to do in 1994. Also, the Republican Party has just been incompetent.”....But he's been critical of Bush, and so is helping the channel lean left. Sorry, but if you have a flagpole with a 145 degree tilt, and you change it to a 130 degree tilt, it's not leaning left--it's leaning less-right. The same goes for the self-deluded Chris Matthews who claims “I really do take on people with power.” Right. As long as they're named Clinton.
On that same day last month when Mr. Scarborough spoke warmly of the Clintons, for example, he also referred to Democrats generally as “stupid people” and “morons.”
It's certainly taken MSNBC long enough to realize that there's a market out there for not-rabid-conservative news analysis, even though a lot of people have been begging for it for years. CNN still hasn't gotten the memo, it seems.