Archive for the MSNBC Category

MSNBC and NowThis News team up…

Posted in MSNBC on April 14, 2014 by icn2

Newscast Studio’s Dak Dillon writes about MSNBC and NowThis News teaming up to distribute content on a variety of platforms…

MSNBC and NowThis News have launched new, co-produced original 15-second daily video series titled “15 Seconds to Truth,” which will dig into a big headline each day to uncover a truth hidden behind the day’s conventional wisdom and spin.

The video series, launching today on MSNBC, Facebook and Twitter, builds on the recently formed partnership between the NBCUniversal News Group and NowThis News, a news organization that specializes in creating unique and impactful short-form video for audiences across social platforms, and popularized the format of 15-second news videos.

In addition to distributing “15 Seconds to Truth” across social and mobile platforms, MSNBC will air the news pieces on-air during its regular broadcast lineup as programs transition in and out of commercial breaks.

Lawrence O’Donnell Out For a While…

Posted in MSNBC on April 14, 2014 by icn2

TVNewser’s Jordan Chariton writes that Lawrence O’Donnell was involved in an overseas car accident along with his brother and will be off the air for a while as he recuperates.

Q: When Is A Fundraiser Not A Fundraiser?

Posted in MSNBC on April 10, 2014 by icn2

A: When the fundraiser’s organizers decide to change it from being a fundraiser to a non-fundraiser of course. Politico’s Dylan Byers has more

UPDATE (10:55 p.m.): Within an hour of this post, New Hampshire’s Cheshire County Republican Committee issued a press release noting that the event in question would no longer be a fundraiser, and that they would lower the price of tickets to $25, which would merely cover costs — thereby allowing MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to speak at the event without forcing MSNBC to change its policy. The post has been updated to reflect that change.

MSNBC will allow host Joe Scarborough to deliver the keynote address at what was originally slated to be a political fundraiser next month, even though it denied that privilege to host Ed Schultz earlier this year.

“Joe isn’t participating in a fundraiser. MSNBC hosts often participate in events where there is a nominal fee for registration or tickets that basically cover the cost of the event. There has been no change in policy,” Lauren Skowronski, the network’s vice president of media relations, wrote in an email late Wednesday night, bringing an end to nearly 36 hours in which the network did not respond to requests for comment.

Uh-huh. Looks like someone caved to me…

Double Standards?

Posted in MSNBC on April 8, 2014 by icn2

Politico’s Dylan Byers writes about MSNBC going quiet about Joe Scarborough keynoting a GOP fundraiser after Ed Schultz was forced to pull out of keynoting a Democrat party fundraiser…

Back in February, MSNBC host Ed Schultz was forced to cancel his keynote address at a Democratic fundraising event in Florida due to a network policy prohibiting hosts from participating in political fundraisers.

But now that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is scheduled to give a keynote address at a Republican fundraising event in New Hampshire, MSNBC has gone silent. Lauren Skowronski, the network’s vice president of media relations, did not respond to four emails requesting comment on Scarborough’s attendance at the event. (She did respond to an email wishing her a happy birthday.)


If MSNBC lets him, that is. And if they do, it will be hard to justify why they didn’t let Ed Schultz speak to Florida Democrats.



Posted in MSNBC on March 31, 2014 by icn2

The New York Daily News Gossip column Confidential has an insane piece of rubbish about Ronan Farrow’s show…

Ronan Farrow’s MSNBC talk show is facing cancellation amid poor ratings, sources exclusively tell Confidenti@l.

Cancellation? After a month? After Phil Griffin and Patricia Fili-Krushel publicly stuck their necks way out for the kid? There is ZERO…I repeat…ZERO chance of Farrow’s show getting killed off any time soon based solely on its ratings. In a year? Possibly. But not now. Too many egos are on the line and too many faces would have egg on them if itchy trigger fingers prevailed at 30 Rock…

Politico’s Dylan Byers agrees

But the “facing cancellation” part is only true in an abstract sense. He’s facing cancellation in, say, nine months to a year, if things don’t improve. Not because executives have given him a timeline, but because that’s just common sense. The idea that Phil Griffin is sitting in his office mulling over whether or not to drop the knife is not true, simply because the show is so new. Few TV executives would dare to cancel a show just one month — or even six months — after its launch.

But then Byers blindly falls into the exact same trap the New York Daily News bumbled into…

The poor ratings part is very true. Painfully true: almost no one watches the show. He’s bringing in something slightly north of 300,000 viewers. Last Wednesday’s show was rated 708th by Nielsen, meaning more people watched the midnight airing of “Baggage” on the Game Show Network.

Those numbers are being used completely out of context. This is MSNBC dayside we are talking about, not primetime. Yes, if this were prime those numbers would be atrocious. But for dayside? They fall right in line with what MSNBC usually does at that time of day. If Farrow was putting out a P2+ of 150,000…yeah…then it’s all hands on deck time at 30 Rock and heads are rolling. But he’s not. It’s not important where his show ranks with all of cable. What’s important is how his show does relative to the rest of MSNBC dayside.

Now…THIS is trouble…

“He sort of stinks on TV,” an MSNBC source told Confidenti@l. “He hasn’t turned out to be the superstar they were hoping for.”

Cackling in the ranks already? Not good. It means not everyone has buy-in on Farrow internally.

And then there’s this quickly erected MSNBC straw-man…

A source defending him said: “Half the time Ronan has been on the air, the missing plane has dominated daytime TV.”

Two things:

1) So what? Cover the plane then! Get on experts. Have Farrow talk about the geopolitics at work in the background between China and Malaysia…something NOBODY is talking about but is a VERY real factor in all this. Oh, wait…that’s right…MSNBC doesn’t do news anymore. Chickens do come home to roost…

2) The plane isn’t depressing Farrow’s numbers at all are they? The show hasn’t dipped since the plane story took off has it? Then what the hell is this source babbling on about? They’re making an excuse for a problem that does not exist. If Farrow’s numbers haven’t tailed off in the past three weeks because of MH370 then the plane story has no impact on his numbers…so why cite it?

Still Pondering Ronan Farrow…

Posted in MSNBC on March 11, 2014 by icn2

Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein writes about how Ronan Farrow’s transition from Twitter to TV hasn’t quite worked as planned…by MSNBC anyways.

Sure, before the man so much as opened his mouth, his face seemed to bear some blame. His eerie resemblance to his alleged is-he-or-isn’t-he father Frank Sinatra is a distraction. Or maybe Farrow is just too damned handsome; those limpid pools he calls eyeballs are so mesmerizing it’s easy to lose track of what he’s saying.

But being too telegenic isn’t really the problem here. In his opening weeks on the air, Farrow has seemed tentative and ill at ease, prone to stumbling on his words. More to the point, he just doesn’t resemble the guy who is so dazzling on social media.

But concluding that the kind of personality that succeeds on Twitter is just a totally different animal than the type conducive to good TV would be wrong. Because it’s actually MSNBC that needs to fall on its sword for failing Farrow; the network put him in a format that doesn’t capture the essence of his Twitter persona.

Cable news basically has two different types of personality-driven shows. The first is where the anchor takes a backseat to the commentator he or she is interviewing. The job is to tee up the topic at hand and ask intelligent questions, but to otherwise get out of the way and let the news be the star. That’s the format MSNBC gave Farrow, and it’s the wrong one.

What the network should have done was give him the kind of forum that makes people like Keith Olbermann or Bill O’Reilly famous, in which the questioner and commentator are essentially the same person; those they interview are really just furniture. It’s here where Farrow could have employed the wit and opinion he puts to such good use on Twitter, but is totally muffled in his current vehicle.

Pondering Ronan Farrow Daily…

Posted in MSNBC on March 10, 2014 by icn2

In a must read that echoes some of what I wrote, The Huffington Post’s Zach Simon is not impressed with Ronan Farrow Daily…

If the first few episodes are any indication of what’s to come, don’t expect to see a show that holds cable news’ proverbial feet to the proverbial fire. In fact, expect just the opposite. The show has included the same tired “expert panel” segments featured on virtually every other MSNBC show in which recycled casts of the network’s personalities and contributors regurgitate the same staid analysis show after show. There are the same glitzy graphics whose sanitized sheen is completely devoid of any personality. There’s the 2016 presidential speculation; the punny chryons; the same misapprehended use of the terms “breaking news” and “developing story.”

The show is, in every way, fashioned from the very cloth Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have spent their careers assiduously shredding.

And for a show whose lead-in word cloud boasts that its host is a “SPOKESPERSON FOR YOUTH,” Ronan Farrow Daily has thus far featured remarkably few youths. It’s becoming clear that the show’s goal is not to actually engage young people, but rather to simply have a young person speak to all the grown-ups in the room. You can bet that I won’t be tweeting clips of Mr. Farrow’s interview with George Takei or David Axelrod anytime soon.

In that respect, Mr. Farrow looks more like the kid at the dinner party who mingles easily with his parents’ friends and has impeccable table manners than a spokesperson for the politically active generation that helped propel President Obama to victory — twice.

I don’t so much blame Ronan Farrow as I do the network executives who put him there. He’s their errand boy. They have no clue how to connect with young viewers and don’t truly care to find out, save for inserting a young, fresh face with a famous last name into the equation.

Doogie Howser: Cable News Host

Posted in MSNBC on March 2, 2014 by icn2

What can we divine from these word cloud images that appear during Ronan Farrow Daily’s open? More importantly, what does MSNBC want us to divine from these word cloud images that appear during the show’s open?



Well, for one thing we can get an idea of why Phil Griffin wants to put a 26 year old in the anchor chair. “Spokesperson for youth”. It and “Rally” are the only categories that appears in both of these images…a not very subtle attempt to cater to the demographic Griffin is hoping to ensnare. The problem is you don’t become a spokesperson for youth by simply putting words on a screen. Non-subliminal messaging is a poor substitute for actual action.

Update: It’s possible that there is an alternate explanation for the Spokesperson for Youth inclusion. From 2001 to 2009, Farrow was a UNICEF Spokesperson for Youth. It’s possible that the words appearing on MSNBC’s screen refer to that portion of his life but for legal and trademark reasons could not include the UNICEF label. That would make a bit more sense than the idea that MSNBC just threw the words Spokesperson for Youth up on the screen in a flailing attempt to attract younger viewers.

But if MSNBC does want to go after that most fickle of news demographics; the 18-25 group…one more fickle to cable news than news junkies…it needs to tailor the show to them and not just throw them the occasional bone in a single segment in a rundown overwhelmingly dominated by the usual MSNBC progressive subjects not of interest to the young – at least not of enough interest as evidenced by how similar programming on MSNBC the past couple years has failed to attract them and then keep them watching – and the odd breaking news segment.

There is a danger in that strategy though. That danger is creating a show to appeal to one particular demographic can have the potential of alienating all the other demographics…ones that MSNBC has up until now been almost exclusively relying on. MSNBC appears to be aware of this which goes a long way to explaining the schizoid format of Ronan Farrow Daily up until this point. It’s trying to have it both ways. On the one hand its trying to position Farrow as the “great young hope” but it is imprisoning him in a show that undercuts all that. You can’t please all of the people all of the time but you can alienate all of the people all of the time. A show which is positioned one way but executes a completely different way has the potential of doing just that.
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Vocativ and Ronan Farrow…

Posted in MSNBC on February 23, 2014 by icn2

The New York Times’ Leslie Kaufman writes about the deal MSNBC has going with Vocativ for its Ronan Farrow show…

When Ronan Farrow, the young human rights lawyer with a Hollywood lineage, debuts as an MSNBC host on Monday, he will have some prodigious computing power backing him up.

MSNBC has struck a partnership with Vocativ, a digital news start-up, to provide the new program — “Ronan Farrow Daily” — with up to three taped video segments a week. Vocativ mines the Internet for exclusive news and other content with data-collection software traditionally used by governments and corporations.

Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC, said Vocativ’s marriage of big data and conventional reporting was an innovative approach to journalism. “It is an additional tool for us,” he said. “And who knows where it is going to go for the entire NBC News group.”

Update: MSNBC put out a release on the Vocativ news…


The Global Social News Network Will Produce News Programming for MSNBC and Other NBCUniversal News Group Platforms
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Alec Baldwin vs. The World…

Posted in MSNBC on February 23, 2014 by icn2

Vulture Magazine has a piece penned by Alec Baldwin and detonates enough bridges to make Keith Olbermann proud…

I watched MSNBC, prior to working there, very sporadically. Once I had signed a contract with them, I wanted to see more of what they were about. It turned out to be the same shit all day long. The only difference was who was actually pulling off whatever act they had come up with. Morning Joe was boring. Scarborough is neither eloquent nor funny. And merely cranky doesn’t always work well in the morning. Mika B. is the Margaret Dumont of cable news. I liked Chris Jansing a lot. Very straightforward. I like Lawrence O’Donnell, but he’s too smart to be doing that show. Rachel Maddow is Rachel Maddow, the ultimate wonk/dweeb who got a show, polished it, made it her own. She’s talented. The problem with everybody on MSNBC is none of them are funny, although that doesn’t prevent them from trying to be.

And this…

MSNBC assigned a producer to me, Jonathan Larsen. Like Sullivan with Orphans, Larsen didn’t get me or the show and didn’t want to be there. When I told him I wanted to interview Debra Winger, Larsen looked like, We’re here on a set, with an expensive crew and studio time, and you want to talk to Debra Winger? There was nothing less interesting to him. Most of the guests I suggested—Ellen Barkin, Neal Barnard from PCRM, JFK-conspiracy icon Mark Lane—he couldn’t care less. As we went along, Larsen would simply stare at me after everything I’d suggest and say, “Well, let’s see what Phil says.” Larsen was sent there to babysit me.

Phil Griffin is the head of MSNBC, and when I saw that Griffin didn’t have a single piece of paper on his desk, meeting after meeting after meeting, that should have been my first indication there was going to be a problem. Phil is a veteran programmer who knows well the corridors and chambers of television programming—and couldn’t give a flying fuck about content. All he wanted to talk about was Giants tickets, Super Bowl tickets, restaurants, movies. The conversations about the set, about the physical production of the show, cameras, lighting—it seemed like he wanted to get those over with as quickly as possible. He didn’t care. He had four monitors on the wall. They were all on, muted. He never listened to them. He never watched them.

And this…

Immediately prior to this, I’d go see Phil and I’d say, “What are the ratings?” If I had 15 meetings with Phil Griffin, 5 of them were after the show, with me saying, “What do you make of these ratings?” He’d say, “Don’t worry. It takes time.” (We beat Cooper two of three Fridays at ten.) Although he appeared to have some buyer’s remorse, he told me to hang in there. After the TMZ event, he said, “Don’t worry. I have to suspend you. But this will blow over.” I have all the emails to prove it. And then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, MSNBC said, “You’re fired.”

Once they fired me, a former MSNBC employee I knew emailed me. He said, “You watch now, Phil is going to start leaking left and right to bury you.” When I left, “Page Six” was flooded with lies about me. Another told me, regarding the “toxic little queen” comment, that Rachel Maddow was the prime mover in my firing, as she was aghast that I had been hired and viewed me as equivalent to Mel Gibson. Another source told me, “You know who’s going to get you fired, don’t you? Rachel. Phil will do whatever Rachel tells him to do.” I think Rachel Maddow is quite good at what she does. I also think she’s a phony who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera that she seems to have on the air.

MSNBC Attacks…

Posted in MSNBC on February 7, 2014 by icn2

The AP’s David Bauder writes about MSNBC’s recent history of self-inflicted wounds. Two part are particularly notable.


Griffin, who declined comment through a spokeswoman, has quietly put the word out to hosts to avoid personal attacks. Rachel Maddow’s meticulous, fact-based criticisms of conservatives is looked upon as the network’s model.

Quietly relative to the outside world. Probably not so quietly inside 30 Rock though…

And this…

There’s some feeling within MSNBC, and among its fans, that the network’s personalities are held to a higher standard than people at Fox News.

To a large extent, that’s driven by the relationship with NBC News. Some viewers make little distinction between the two, particularly when NBC News personalities like Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd have regular programs on MSNBC, and NBC is sometimes held culpable for MSNBC’s sins.

Mixed Messages…

Posted in MSNBC on February 3, 2014 by icn2

With the Olympics in Sochi about to kick off in a few days, Chris Jansing flew out last week. So a substitute anchor was going to be needed to do her show today since she’s in Russia…

Richard Lui?
Thomas Roberts?
Veronica De La Cruz?
Betty Nguyen?

Ari Melber…

MSNBC could have put on any number of its news anchors to do her show, which ostensibly is supposed to be a news show, and instead it tapped a pundit…someone known for their ideological opinions and not their journalistic bonafides.

(three paragraphs of ICN ranting about the differences between journalists and pundits and how this sends mixed messages to the viewers about the purpose of Jansing’s show snipped)


Phil Griffin Interview…

Posted in MSNBC on January 30, 2014 by icn2

The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove interviews Phil Griffin…

In his office Griffin insists: “I think we’ve never had an ideology. An ideology is a single thought across all programs. We’ve never had that.” As evidence, he mentions the spirited on-air debates in 2010, pro and con, concerning whether the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire. “Obviously I hire people who fit the sensibility,” Griffin says. “We do stay true to facts. You have to build your argument. That’s why I call it a sensibility.”
He continues: “If you’re a Democrat in trouble, we’re not a place where we’re going to rehabilitate you. You’re not going to get a free ride if you did wrong.” As evidence that the cable outlet is by no means a White House shill, Griffin mentions Ed Schultz’s impassioned criticisms of the Obama administration’s trade policies, and various MSNBC hosts’ more general condemnation of Obama’s use of deadly drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, he stoutly defends All In host Chris Hayes, a former writer for the paleo-liberal Nation magazine and protégé of MSNBC’s prime-time star Rachel Maddow; he initially hosted Up, MSNBC’s early morning weekend program, until Griffin elevated him to 8 p.m. early last year. Hayes’s ratings, opposite Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, had been anemic until recently. Hayes himself called them “bad.”

“I’m committed to Chris Hayes at 8 o’clock,” Griffin says, noting that a recent tweak of the schedule, positioning Schultz at 5 p.m., where Matthews had been, and airing Matthews live at 7 p.m. instead of a repeat of his earlier show, has resulted in a stronger lead-in and marked improvement in Hayes’s numbers. “The line is straight up, and I couldn’t be happier with where we are,” Griffin insists. “I’m glad, because I put him there.”

Bad Day At 30 Rock…

Posted in MSNBC on January 30, 2014 by icn2

Having a day job sometimes prevents me from blogging when all hell is breaking loose at a cable news network. Today was one of those days. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple writes about The Tweet Heard Round The Internet (Copyright 2014, TM, Patent pending)…

Recent flare-ups come from just about everywhere except the people helming MSNBC’s regular prime-time lineup. Bashir was marooned at the 4:00 p.m. hour, in the midst of what BuzzFeed’s Dorsey Shaw calls “a super-dead zone.” Alec Baldwin was doing a weekly Friday night show when he said allegedly hateful things to a paparazzo. Melissa Harris-Perry’s misfiring discussion on Mitt Romney’s family occurred on her weekend show. And this latest firestorm surges not from prime time; not from non-prime time; but from the network’s Twitter feed. All that should be enough to enrage an expressive guy like Griffin.

And it has, according to two sources at the network. Griffin, says one of the sources, is as “angry” as his colleagues have seen him. In a meeting, he warned of serious and immediate repercussions and ripped the staff about the recent bout of stupid actions, according to the sources.

Lauren Skowronski, a spokeswoman for the network, e-mailed this statement: “What you’re hearing is an exaggeration but obviously this is a serious matter that’s being handled internally. Phil has spoken to his team to make it clear that these incidents are unacceptable.”

UPDATE: Griffin has put his name behind an apology that reads as follows:

“The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable. We immediately acknowledged that it was offensive and wrong, apologized, and deleted it. We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet.

I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended.

At MSNBC, we believe in passionate, strong debate about the issues and we invite voices from all sides to participate. That will never change. “

What a coup for Priebus and the RNC: By acting quickly and forcefully, they managed to get Griffin to include Priebus by name in the official MSNBC apology. Had only Griffin stamped his name to an apology early this morning, such a concession never would have been necessary.

Probably true. But at the same time I wonder if we have become more easily indignant over everything that we immediately go postal and demand scalps and networks are much much quicker to acquiesce to said scalp hunts than things used to be. Would Carl Cameron have survived at FNC if he had penned his imaginary John Kerry article today?

Fox News quickly retracted the article, saying in an editor’s note on its Web site that the article “was written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast.” It said, “We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.”

Did Cameron survive ten years ago because we were more forgiving back then? Or did Cameron survive because the DNC didn’t go postal like the RNC did? Or did Cameron survive because FNC wasn’t willing to fire a key asset for what could be argued was a fireable offense while MSNBC was willing to fire some anonymous staffer because they were replaceable and would it have still fired the Tweeter if it had been some name like Ed Schultz?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions but the questions are worth pondering…

MSNBC Changes Up Dayside…Removes Yet Another Hour of News…Adds More Progressive Hours

Posted in Branding Run Amok, MSNBC on January 27, 2014 by icn2

MSNBC has changed up its dayside schedule. On the one hand this does create clear definitive lines between its news anchors and its non news anchors with the newsies being grouped together from 9-1pm ET. On the other hand the network has managed to drop yet another hour of news for Progressive POV analysis.

Look at this…

1 PM – Ronan Farrow
2 PM – Joy Reid
3 PM – The Cycle
4 PM – Alex Wagner
5 PM – Ed Schultz
6 PM – Al Sharpton
7 PM – Chris Matthews
8 PM – Chris Hayes
9 PM – Rachel Maddow
10 PM – Lawrence O’Donnell

Um…does anyone else notice the complete lack of originality in this lineup? It is almost universally monotone in structure. Excepting Schultz’s fire and brimstone, Matthews’ wonkiness, and the blank slate that Ronan Farrow still basically is, you could swap these hosts and their shows around without any significant flow disruption occurring from a content standpoint. Does anyone at 30 Rock see the absolute redundancy piled upon redundancy potential at work here?

I am having a very hard time squaring this lineup with Phil Griffin’s discussion about broadening his network’s coverage this year. This lineup isn’t built for that. It is built to double down on that big Progressive bet Griffin made a few years ago. It may lock in those progressives but I fear it will lock out everyone else looking for a bit more diversity of subject matter.

Kathy O’Hearn Tapped to EP Farrow Show

Posted in MSNBC on January 16, 2014 by icn2

Politico’s Dylan Byers writes that Ronan Farrow now has an EP…

MSNBC has hired veteran news producer Kathy O’Hearn to serve as Executive Producer on Ronan Farrow’s new MSNBC program, sources familiar with her plans told POLITICO on Thursday.

O’Hearn, a former executive producer at CNN, ABC News, and CNBC, previously served as Senior Vice President at The Daily Beast. She left late last year with Tina Brown to serve as SVP on Brown’s new events and conferences venture.

And then there’s this which strongly suggests something I had long suspected…that MSNBC was not going to launch Farrow’s show until after the Olympics…

MSNBC spokesperson Lauren Skowronski declined to discuss details about Farrow’s new program.

“There have been no announcements made about Ronan Farrow’s show,” she wrote. “We’ll be announcing details in the coming weeks.”

Phil Griffin Interview…

Posted in MSNBC on January 15, 2014 by icn2

The Hollywood Reporter’s Marissa Guthrie interviews Phil Griffin about apologies and such. I’m actually surprised Griffin did this interview given that any intellectually honest examination of MSNBC’s recent string of public misfortune has been skewed badly out of context. This suggests MSNBC viewed this non-issue as a real issue. I still don’t agree…

“We handled them,” says Griffin. “We were transparent. That is our philosophy: Be factual, and step up when you make a mistake. And I don’t see that among our competition, whether it’s getting something wrong on a major story or when there are clear inaccuracies and they’re not corrected.”

Carrying Water?

Posted in MSNBC on January 8, 2014 by icn2

Mediaite’s Andrew Kirell writes about how MSNBC’s crime docs skew its ratings…

For total day viewership (6 a.m.-6 a.m.), we noted that CNN moved into second place, with MSNBC not too far behind. But when you remove MSNBC’s crime documentaries series — which constitute an unusual break from the network’s editorially progressive political content — their demo ratings (A24-54) sink lower, handing that category over to CNN as well.

CNN must be pleased with reading this. It’s the kind of thing they’d want to note. Oh, wait…it’s precisely the thing they have noted!

Without the series “Lock Up” and “Caught on Camera,” etc. MSNBC ratings fall even more dramatically, from 133k to 117k. FOX was off -5% in total viewers and down -18% in the demo 25-54 in 2013.

My gripe with Kirell’s (unintended or otherwise) hatchet job isn’t so much that he stated the obvious – that MSNBC’s crime docs boost its ratings. We all know that. No, my gripe is that Kirell ignored the fact that CNN’s taped programming, “which constitute an unusual break from” the network’s news brand, has skewed its own ratings higher.

Kirell does try to claw out an excuse for citing MSNBC’s taped programming…

This is significant because neither Fox nor CNN devote anywhere near this amount of time to airing taped tabloid/crime programming.

Accurate point…MSNBC does air more crime/tabloid taped programming, but ultimately irrelevant for two reasons.

1) That MSNBC airs more crime/tabloid taped programming vs CNN is offset by the fact that CNN is jumping headfirst into more and more tape. More tape = less time for live news. It’s like two women arguing over who is more pregnant. They’re both pregnant. Tape is tape.

2) Jeff Zucker has publicly stated that more tape will air during M-Fr primetime. That’s something that MSNBC no longer does save for the occasional Friday or holiday blast. CNN’s end goal is the same as MSNBC’s…for taped programming to boost ratings.

This story has all the markings of a story pitch. The red flag is the ratings screen grab. Unless Mediaite suddenly became a Nielsen subscriber there is no way they’d have a screen grab formatted like that. That kind of formatting is the kind used by networks. So, the question I have is which network pitched this: CNN or FNC?

Nothing’s Settled…Except the News/Opinion Ratio…

Posted in MSNBC on January 8, 2014 by icn2

TVNewser’s Jordan Chariton writes about MSNBC’s decision to go with a rotating group of hosts at 12pm for the time being. The only thing this settles is the possibility of turning 9-2 back to a solid block of non POV Analysis programming…

Ari Melber, of MSNBC’s “The Cycle,” will be among a rotating cast of hosts for the network’s Noon hour, when Alex Wagner moves to 4pmET.

Joy Reid, who had been filling in at 4pm since the departure of Martin Bashir last month, is also expected to fill in at NoonET.

Bulletin Board PR 101

Posted in CNN, FNC, MSNBC on January 6, 2014 by icn2

Some people like Politico’s Dylan Byers called this punching down. I don’t. It’s classic Bulletin Board PR. And that’s all fair game as far as I’m concerned…

(Mostly) Rubbish…

Posted in MSNBC on January 6, 2014 by icn2

It’s already been shot down by MSNBC itself but I’m going to pile on. National Review Online’s Eliana Johnson has a silly little article about how Rachel Maddow is essentially part of the crew running things at NBC News.

Even if this article was even partially grounded in reality, which it isn’t, the idea that the story would break via NRO automatically raises multiple red flags. There are still enough media reporters out there (though not as many as there used to be) with connections deep enough to have broken this story well before it fell in Johnson’s lap.

Even more damning is the article itself which posits the idea that Maddow has mega input but fails to even offer one supporting piece of evidence to buttress the claim.

There are no anecdotes of Maddow orchestrating editorial control. There are no anecdotes of Maddow making personnel decisions. All there is are a few disconnected quotes that Johnson strung together to paint a picture of implied influence without any evidence of direct influence.

Then there’s Johnson’s “news” of some new script review processs that MSNBC has implemented as a result of the Bashir, Baldwin, and Melissa Harris-Perry incidents. First of all, Baldwin’s incident didn’t involve a script and didn’t occur on MSNBC’s air. MHP’s incident is too recent to have any influence on anything MSNBC may or may not have done. That just leaves us with Bashir’s. I have no doubt that emails flew after the Bashir incident and there may have been some remedial editorial instruction as a result. But one incident hardly a pattern makes.

MSNBC called this “…a story with more anonymous, uninformed sources than you’d ever find on the gossip pages”. That’s actually wrong. This is precisely the amount of uninformed sources you’d find in the gossip pages. But their veracity is just as questionable.

Ronan Farrow Interview…

Posted in MSNBC on January 3, 2014 by icn2

The New York Times’ Jesse Lichtenstein interviews Ronan Farrow and gets Phil Griffin to chime in…

Last summer, when he got the call from MSNBC, Farrow was living in a charmingly musty dorm room at Magdalen College, Oxford, England. He had left a job at the State Department for a Rhodes scholarship, studying politics and international relations. Farrow assumed MSNBC wanted him to make appearances as a talking head on their shows. He had written articles decrying what he saw as the American government’s obsession with secrecy and the partisan tenor of the Congressional hearings on Benghazi and had been invited to talk about them on television. But Phil Griffin, the president of the network, had other ideas. He’d seen clips of Farrow giving interviews and speeches and was impressed. “I started following him on Twitter,” he told me recently, “and loved the way he talked about things.” When Farrow was in New York, the two sat down for a chat. “Within 20 minutes I wanted to hire him,” Griffin says. “He’s got it.”

And we get our first glimpse at what MSNBC hopes Farrow’s show will look like…

“I wanted to have a sort of gritty reporting style to it,” Farrow said, “so we’ve got a lot of Handycam stuff that I shot, that Anthony shot.”

Griffin has said that he hopes the show will feel rough and spontaneous, not polished and packaged. On-screen we caught glimpses of a second cameraman in the frame, of the lights that illuminated a sit-down interview.

“We like showing the setup as much as possible, giving it in the raw,” Farrow said.

Povich nodded. “I think, for our audience, just letting them in a little bit on the process — that’s the thing that sets Ronan apart,” she said. “It’s just a different feel.”

And this…

His models are a mix of old school and new, a marriage of Bill Moyers and Twitter. Griffin, the president of MSNBC, told me that it was Farrow’s presence on Twitter that he wanted Farrow to emulate. “I look at his tweets and I say: ‘The way you write those little 140 characters, they’re great. That sensibility has got to be in everything you do.’ ” He was probably not thinking of the tweet that Ronan wrote the day after Thanksgiving: “The only thing better than Black Friday with your sister is Friday with your black sister.” Some of his 150,000 followers must have wondered what this blond white guy was thinking. This drier side of his humor might fare poorly under daily media scrutiny; or it might be what attracts an audience.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate about the possibility that if Farrow lands early in MSNBC’s dayside schedule – 10 am ET for example – that the show may be more than one hour in length. It would seem unlikely given how the long format show was tried a few years ago with Dylan Ratigan and didn’t work. Yet, for MSNBC to make the kind of splash it seems to be sending strong signals it wants to make with Farrow – to plant a flag if you will – I wouldn’t automatically eliminate the idea that the show winds up being more than an hour long.

Thomas Roberts Named Way Too Early Host…

Posted in MSNBC on January 2, 2014 by icn2

The Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas scooped earlier today that Thomas Roberts will be taking over Way Too Early hosting duties. This is just the first domino that’s going to fall.

MSNBC has decided to replace the anchor of “Way Too Early” with the openly-gay Thomas Roberts because the left-leaning channel wants the show to be seen as more “diverse,” a source inside the cable network tells The Daily Caller.

The source said the move to replace current host Brian Shactman with Roberts will be announced soon.

“Way Too Early” airs every weekday morning before Morning Joe, the MSNBC daily talk show hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

NBC News Partners With Revere Digital…

Posted in MSNBC on January 1, 2014 by icn2

NBC and Revere Digital; Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher’s new venture, announced a deal today…

Swisher and Mossberg to Lead the New Technology-Focused Media Company

NEW YORK — January 2, 2014 — The NBCUniversal News Group announced today a strategic investment and content partnership with Revere Digital, the new, technology-focused media company launched by highly-regarded technology and digital media journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg. The announcement was made by Patricia Fili-Krushel, Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group and Revere Co-CEOs Swisher and Mossberg. Windsor Media will also join Revere as an investing partner.

Swisher and Mossberg’s new company will manage a digital media and technology news, reviews and analysis web site called Re/code ( ( along with a global conference business. With this partnership, the NBCUniversal News Group will expand its Silicon Valley presence and technology coverage by incorporating Revere’s breaking news and analysis stories across NBCUniversal News Group’s multiple media platforms.

“Kara and Walt are two of the most knowledgeable, well-connected and respected technology journalists working today. They built an incredible brand and business with ‘AllThingsD,’ and we are very excited about partnering with them in this new venture and deepening our engagement in this rapidly changing technology market,” said Patricia Fili-Krushel, Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group.

“We are excited to work with the NBCUniversal News Group, especially because its interest in investing in Revere displays exactly the kind of innovative and forward thinking that is necessary in the fast-changing new digital environment. What doesn’t change is our mutual commitment to excellence in bringing quality journalism to the widest possible audience, which the News Group provides every day through its highly respected news operation,” said Swisher and Mossberg.

As part of the deal Swisher, Mossberg and other Revere journalists will appear on-air across all of the News Group properties including CNBC, MSNBC, the TODAY show, and “Nightly News with Brian Williams” and will provide News Group television and digital properties access to its breaking news simultaneous with Re/code.

Additionally, CNBC will become Revere’s media partner for its global conferences.

Revere Digital and NBCUniversal also will collaborate on advertising opportunities enabling NBCUniversal’s advertising partners to increase their reach among media and technology-focused audiences through the unique scale of NBCUniversal’s brands and Revere Digital’s multi-platform initiatives.

Quick! A show of hands…who knows where it was first revealed that NBC was headed in this direction?

I’ll tell you…Phil Griffin…just one week ago…in an interview with Erik Wemple…

“America in the 21st century” in ways that competitors do not. In the coming year, says the network president, MSNBC will be covering more technology and “things that are really changing America.” The idea, he says, is to “broaden out so we’re not as limited by election cycles.”

When I first read that I had a “WTF?” moment. Why cover technology more now? But today’s news puts Griffin’s comment in a whole new context. Griffin knew this was coming…

Spot The Anonymouse…

Posted in MSNBC on December 23, 2013 by icn2

The New York Post’s Claire Atkinson writes about Antoine Sanfuentes leaving NBC News…

The journalist had been with the Peacock network for 24 years. His last day is Jan. 20, he said in the email, a copy of which was reviewed by The Post.

“We are in the midst of a remarkable time in the news business that is revolutionizing how we are informed, but that still comes with a responsibility to be competitive and to get it right,” Sanfuentes told the staff in the email.

The note did not refer to his reasons for departing but he is said to have not shared NBC News chief Deborah Turness’ vision.

Hold it.

Did you notice what I just noticed?

Let’s go back a couple of days to another article Atkinson wrote about cutbacks at NBC…

NBC veterans have complained privately that Turness is not serious enough, sources said.

“Instead of getting better, NBC News has been getting worse,” said one executive. “It’s a mess.”

The grumblings are centered on Turness’ more aggressive tabloid style.

One senior NBC News executive was so outraged by her changes that he went over her head to complain to her superiors that the two simply can’t work together.

Two articles two days apart. One cites a “senior NBC News executive” going over Turness’ head. The other says that Sanfuentes “was said to have not shared NBC News chief Deborah Turness’ vision”.

When you try to connect the dots some questions immediately rise up:

1) Was Sanfuentes the one who went over Turness’ head?
2) Did Sanfuentes leak Saturday’s article to Atkinson to torch Turness just before his departure was announced?
3) Did Atkinson just accidentally burn Sanfuentes rotten?

A Day In The Life of MSNBC…

Posted in MSNBC on December 23, 2013 by icn2

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple takes a deep deep dive on MSNBC and its daytime broadcasts…

Ok, let’s stipulate a few things right off the bat:

1) If you look hard enough during any daytime broadcast you’re going to find superficial twaddle banter at one point or another.
2) Anyone can have a bad interview or wind up being harder on “one side” vs. “the other side”.
3) Nobody is perfect.
4) There isn’t a single anchor of quality out there who, if I looked long and hard enough at them, I wouldn’t find something that they did that I didn’t like or thought they could do better or I thought they handled badly (see #3).

And that’s what bugs me about part of Wemple’s article. It spends a little too much space going after the soft easy targets that don’t really matter when the sole source of your sample is a single day. That’s why, when I’m evaluating talent and how they do on the air, I look at their entire history on the channel. When you do that things average out and you see who really swims and who really sinks. And this doesn’t just apply to MSNBC but its competition as well.

The rest of Wemple’s article is far more interesting – especially the analysis of “Now” – and particularly how Wemple got Phil Griffin to respond…

When asked about this monotopicalism, Griffin went into something of a lecture: “I’ll tell you, I think we are evolving the channel a bit,” he told the Erik Wemple Blog. “Look, politics is at our core,” he added, noting that MSNBC reaches a diverse audience that reflects “America in the 21st century” in ways that competitors do not. In the coming year, says the network president, MSNBC will be covering more technology and “things that are really changing America.” The idea, he says, is to “broaden out so we’re not as limited by election cycles.”

Interesting. In the election year of 2014, Griffin is apparently suggesting MSNBC will broaden out from “the election cycle”. Shouldn’t that have really happened this year, which was a non-election year?

And there’s this…

More from Griffin: “I think the one thing you can say is that at MSNBC we’re honest to our viewers, we correct mistakes, we don’t put out slogans that are meaningless — ‘We report, you decide’ — and we’re not going to say if we want a candidate to win, that candidate is going to win,” he says.

“we don’t put out slogans that are meaningless”


The upshot is that MSNBC brass is not claiming that its dayside work is straight-up-the-middle reporting. Only in the cesspool of cable news is not lying about the premise of your programming a selling point.

Cuts at NBC’s Washington Bureau?

Posted in MSNBC on December 21, 2013 by icn2

In a must read, the New York Post’s Claire Atkinson writes about cutbacks at NBC’s DC Bureau…

The current moves are not the first time Turness has irked journalists under her command.

NBC veterans have complained privately that Turness is not serious enough, sources said.

“Instead of getting better, NBC News has been getting worse,” said one executive. “It’s a mess.”

The grumblings are centered on Turness’ more aggressive tabloid style.

One senior NBC News executive was so outraged by her changes that he went over her head to complain to her superiors that the two simply can’t work together.

NBC News has been accused of checkbook journalism for landing key videos and interviews. The network denied paying for interviews.

I’m going to stop here and point out that the checkbook journalism charge isn’t new and it hasn’t been exclusively aimed at NBC. This smells to me more like trying to unfairly stack the deck against NBC.

The move to cut jobs has morale low, sources said.

Particularly distressed by the changes is the DC bureau team, whose duties include providing political coverage to “Nightly News with Brian Williams” and Sunday talk show “Meet The Press.”

Turness has been trying to figure out the future for David Gregory’s “Meet the Press,” with options including bringing in MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” team of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski for a Sunday show, or blowing up the entire franchise and trying something completely different, sources familiar with the situation said.

The jury is still out on what to do as Turness still hasn’t decided, these sources added.

I can’t see Turness wanting to be known as the network news president that killed off the longest running TV series in the history of American broadcast TV. Replacing David Gregory? That’s another story entirely…

Now Moves Later

Posted in MSNBC on December 20, 2013 by icn2

TVNewser’s Jordan Chariton writes that MSNBC will be moving Now with Alex Wagner into Martin Bashir’s former slot at 4pm ET…thus annoying the Joy Ann Reid boosters who wanted her to get the slot….something I always thought was a long shot. I think its a good move…conditional to what ends up airing at Noon ET…

Phil Griffin Interview…

Posted in MSNBC on December 20, 2013 by icn2

The Wrap’s L.A. Ross writes about MSNBC’s year and has a Phil Griffin interview…

After Bashir’s exit, Baldwin had taken what some saw as a shot at MSNBC, tweeting, “Some of these cable venues really are Off-Off Television. And their need for a reliable, even forced, homogeneity is more apparent than ever.”

“It was unfortunate,” Griffin said about the exits. “I believed in both of those hosts.”

“They’re no longer here. That happens. I think you’ve got to judge us on everything – how we handled it, going forward,” he added. “I don’t think there’s another network that takes responsibility for the words that come out of [their] hosts shows, what they say. If there’s a mistake we address it – I don’t think another network does what we do.”

“I think that that’s something to be proud of and we are proud of it.”

Going into 2014, Griffin believes the midterm elections will turn viewers back on to politics and help MSNBC regain lost ground. In the meantime, he says his focus is on developing new talent – like Ronan Farrow, who will host his own hour starting early next year – and expanding MSNBC’s outreach online.

“If you don’t evolve, you die,” he said.

Patrick Murphy to Host MSNBC Veterans Issues Special…

Posted in MSNBC on December 13, 2013 by icn2

Capital New York’s Alex Weprin was the first to notice a completely ignored NBC press release issued Monday announcing that MSNBC is having a Veterans Issues special hosted by Patrick Murphy…

Patrick Murphy Hosts Discussion on Veterans Issues Live from 30 Rockefeller Center MSNBC to Air “Wounded: The Battle Back Home”, the Second Documentary Produced by Wounded Warrior Project

NEW YORK – December 9, 2013 – MSNBC contributor Patrick Murphy returns as host of a one-hour conversation about veterans issues live from 30 Rockefeller Center on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. ET. Murphy, a former Congressman (D-PA) and Iraq War veteran, continues to examine issues affecting the veteran community as they navigate their postwar lives. MSNBC will also premiere “Wounded: The Battle Back Home” – the second hour of its “Taking the Hill” documentary series produced by Flow Nonfiction in conjunction with Wounded Warrior Project to commemorate the organization’s 10th anniversary. This new installment introduces Angie Peacock – an Iraq War Veteran who returned from combat suffering severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “Wounded: The Battle Back Home” shares Angie’s story of determination as she fights toward recovery.


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