Shakeup Coming At MSNBC
Analysis you'll never hear on MSNBC
by Gaius Publius
I don't know what to make of this news — in the sense that I don't know for sure what it augurs — so I'll just present it. I do know what to make of MSNBC — it's the Party-first equivalent of the Movement-first Fox News (note the difference) — though that varies from host to host. That is, some hosts will be more aggressive in criticizing Democrats than others, but only on narrowly selected topics. Ed Schultz, to my knowledge, is the only one covering the biggest billionaire-fueled wealth-transfer story of the day — TPP — though if I'm wrong, please do send me links.
Maybe if the geniuses at MSNBC are wondering why people like me are less eager to tune in, it's because when it comes to coverage of the Democratic Party, mostly what you get is the party line (literally), and that's as predictable as the taste of your morning coffee, and a lot less necessary in daily doses.
As ratings plunge, MSNBC faces shakeupStop briefly and reread the first paragraph. Does Griffin, or Politico, really not know why Democrats aren't tuned to MSNBC for Clinton email news? Does anyone really expect anything but Dem-protection (and in this case, Clinton-protection) in their coverage of the story, especially with Republicans on the attack? There is a scandal there, several of them, just as there's a scandal in the Loretta Lynch nomination (see video at the top). But I could write MSNBC's coverage of the email news in my sleep, just as I could write their throaty praises of Loretta Lynch. I just wouldn't publish them as analysis.
Insiders say to expect more news, less bombast, and fresh voices.
It would be hard to imagine a news event better tailored to MSNBC’s Venn diagram of “lean forward” liberals and “place for politics” political junkies. Yet when Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ presumptive 2016 presidential nominee, held a news conference about her private email use last week — a media frenzy that functioned, albeit inadvertently, as the informal launch to her highly anticipated campaign — less than 13 percent of the total cable news audience was tuned to the network.
The low turnout wasn’t a fluke: Year-to-date, MSNBC’s daytime viewership is down 21 percent overall and 41 percent in the coveted 25-to-54-year-old demographic, putting it in fourth place behind Fox News, CNN and CNN’s sister network HLN. Its prime-time ratings are down 24 percent and 42 percent, respectively. In both daytime and prime time, MSNBC is bringing in its smallest share of the demo since 2005, the year before Keith Olbermann’s scorched-earth admonitions of the Bush administration ushered in the current era of Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton.
In a memo to staff in December, MSNBC President Phil Griffin conceded that the network is suffering: “It’s no secret that 2014 was a difficult year for the entire cable news industry and especially for MSNBC,” he wrote. But change was coming, Griffin promised, with “more announcements in the New Year.”
MSNBC is vague about what's coming:
The extent of that change could be vast: In the months ahead, MSNBC is likely to shake up the bulk of its programming, moving some shows and canceling others, high-level sources at NBCUniversal told POLITICO. With a few exceptions — notably “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “Morning Joe” — every program is at risk of being moved or canceled, those sources said. “All In with Chris Hayes,” a ratings suck that currently occupies the 8 p.m. time slot, will almost certainly be replaced. Network execs are also considering moving some weekday shows, like “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton,” to weekends.Note that the guy who's going to drive those changes thinks MSNBC has "drifted left" (my emphasis):
“The plan is to re-imagine what the channel is,” one high-level NBCUniversal insider with knowledge of the network’s plans said, “because the current lineup is a death wish.”
The changes, which Griffin has already set in motion with the cancellation of the little-watched daytime shows “Ronan Farrow” and “Reid Report,” are likely to be hastened by the arrival of new NBC News Group Chairman Andrew Lack, who will serve as Griffin’s boss."Partisan"? Certainly. "Leftward"? Not so much.
Lack, a former NBC News president, is likely to rein in MSNBC’s ever-leftward drift and focus instead on creating more news-driven programming, with more involvement from NBC News talent. This could become a radical change of course for MSNBC, where partisan, opinion-based programming has come to dominate the vast majority of the network’s lineup in both daytime and prime time.
The Network Covers Justice Issues Well
I don't want to minimize how valuable much of MSNBC's coverage is — Chris Christie corruption (yes, I know; low-hanging Republican fruit, but still, good coverage of an important story); prosecution-free killings by FBI agents (huge props to Maddow for those stories); relentless killer cop–after–killer cop exposés by Chris Hayes — to name just a few examples of the excellent work they've done.
But note — this is not left-leaning coverage. These are stories of corruption and murder. This is coverage of justice. True left-leaning coverage attacks the uses of great wealth by both parties to serve the interests of great wealth and undermine the interests of everyone else in the country. Of that, I've seen almost none on MSNBC.
Are they covering Rahm Emanuel's rape of Chicago? As news, but not as analysis; and certainly not with an Obama endorsement in Emanuel's pocket. Do they cover TPP and the attempted corporate rape of national sovereignty? Not that either; and certainly not with a full-court press by Obama and big corporate CEOs (like Comcast's?) as an ongoing part of the story. Have they covered the relationship between carbon wealth and fact that the administration's "solutions" to the climate crisis involve ... enriching holders of carbon wealth? That would violate almost all of MSNBC's apparent restrictions.
What does Phil Griffin, or Andrew Lack, think of Rahm, or TPP, or Exxon's push to sell methane? Can you guess?
The real market for cable television — its owners (source)
Where will this go, this move for change at MSNBC? I can't say, though I can begin to guess. The clue, for me, is here:
This could become a radical change of course for MSNBC, where partisan, opinion-based programming has come to dominate ..."Opinion-based programming" at MSNBC consists, in practice, of calls for justice — prosecution of murder by police, for example — not calls to respond to the world in a Chomskyite, genuinely leftish way. Justice always discomforts the unjust and comfortable. Perhaps that's what they'll offer less of — fewer stories about killer cops and the ravages of carbon-caused climate change. We'll just have to wait and see.
Me, I want more "capture by wealth" stories, but then again, I'm watching the actual news.