Well MSNBC’s new 3pm show is now known. It’s called The Cycle and is a blatant paper rip off of FNC’s The Five. I say paper rip off because all we know is that it’s an ensemble show, which The Five is. We don’t know yet how the show will play out on the air. It could be a totally different animal from The Five in terms of tone and substance, though I have my doubts. Imitation isn’t just the sincerest form of flattery…it’s a TV programming mainstay. Why be original when you can do what the other ratings winner show is doing? Yes, I’m a cynic. Blame it on years of watching TV news where being predictable is embraced and trail blazing is shunned.
The Huffington Post’s Jack Mirkinson got the first inside access to what the new show will try to do and interviewed EP Steve Friedman…
“The Cycle” will be an ensemble show; all four hosts will appear every day, with each one taking turns facilitating the discussion. If that sounds like a certain 5 PM Fox News show, the team behind “The Cycle” is well aware of it. In the Thursday interview, Cupp, Kornacki, Touré and Ball all jokingly pretended not to know what “The Five” is, and Friedman flatly rejected the notion that his new show was derivative.
“When ‘The Five’ started, did you go and ask them if they were doing ‘The View’?” he asked. “When ‘The View’ started, did you ask them if they were doing the ‘Today’ show?”
Ok, you can draw some parallels between The Five and The View but to draw parallels between The View and Today is a real stretch. Can you recall Matt Lauer voicing opinions ala The Five? Me neither.
Though MSNBC has received some criticism for veering away from breaking-news, CNN-style coverage and doubling down on political chat, Friedman said that the modern media landscape made the former unnecessary.
“Cable television is programs about the news,” he said. “it’s no longer the news. Nobody turns on to find out what happens, because they already know from you guys. What people are interested in is listening and watching people give their take.”
This is the tail wagging the dog talk from Friedman. It fits in with the narrative MSNBC wants to put forward; that news is dead for TV. It’s self-serving rubbish. What’s left unsaid is the unvarnished truth; it’s cheaper and easier to get higher ratings by not doing news, so they don’t want to do news. The number of people who are plugged in enough to get their news in detail via the labor intensive process that the internet real time news delivery mechanism still is represents a low ratio compared to the millions of people who do tune to TV for news because it delivers it easier and quicker for them. It’s essentially a cost/benefit proposition wrapped up in a self-fulfilling prophecy. MSNBC doesn’t want to invest in the cost of real CNN type of news delivery for the meager benefit they’ll get immediately. It takes a lot of time to build up a brand around news. That’s why CNN’s news brand still yields dividends and MSNBC, which now has no news brand, would have to stick at for years to build one. NBC decided that it doesn’t want to do that. So its only alternative is to push out in directions that don’t involve news but can potentially yield high viewership levels.