Archive for the MSNBC Category

Spin Control…

Posted in MSNBC on October 13, 2014 by icn2

The New York Times’ Bill Carter writes about MSNBC’s ratings woes…

Rachel Maddow, the biggest star on the MSNBC cable network, just posted her lowest quarterly ratings results ever.

“Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s signature morning program, scored its second-lowest quarterly ratings, reaching an average of just 87,000 viewers in the key news demographic group.

And “Ronan Farrow Daily,” the network’s heavily promoted new afternoon show, which stars a 26-year-old Rhodes Scholar with a high-profile Hollywood lineage, has been largely a dud.


But then there’s this…

MSNBC consciously established its brand as politics-centric, approaching stories from a left-of-center viewpoint, in deliberate contrast to the right-of-center approach of Fox News, which continues to dominate the news channel ratings. At the same time, MSNBC moved away from a close relationship with NBC News that it had during the early years of the network. Today, fewer NBC News correspondents appear on MSNBC.

Mr. Griffin said that a general apathy about American politics has also hurt the network. “You can look at the dysfunction in Washington, the wariness about politics, the low approval ratings,” he said. “That’s had an impact. But we’ve got to adjust; we’ve got to evolve.”

Hmmmm…is this Phil Griffin signalling that MSNBC is moving off of politics…at least to some extent?

One longtime news executive who has worked for both network and cable news organizations said the problem with “Morning Joe” was partly a broader issue with MSNBC. “ ‘Morning Joe’ has been hurt because no one is tuning in to watch the channel now; they go right by,” he said. “The show took its eye off the ball, but you can’t discount the fact that nobody is watching the channel.”

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The executive, who asked not to be identified because of potential future business with MSNBC, said Ms. Maddow remains a draw, but her format has grown tired. “In terms of Rachel, everybody knows every night what she’s going to say,” he said. “The network just doesn’t surprise you.”

Oooohh…talking out of school in the same article that Griffin tries to position MSNBC’s story for Carter? Not good.

As for MSNBC, Mr. Griffin remained optimistic despite the challenges. He defended the network’s approach, but also hinted that it had to broaden its programming beyond politics.

“We have a good brand, a strong brand,” he said. “But we’ve got to get outside Washington and open up our aperture a little.”

No argument on the second point. But as to the first…if MSNBC’s brand is so stron…so good…why have its ratings gone so south. The whole point of having a strong brand is it allows you to weather the storm better.

The MSNBC Pendulum Swingeth?

Posted in MSNBC on October 9, 2014 by icn2

The Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein writes about MSNBC avoiding its old “The place for politics” charter…

“MSNBC is under pressure to cut costs,” an MSNBC insider tells The Mirror, explaining that there is a real push from Philadelphia to do more breaking news and less politics.

If true this is a strange twist straight out of the Twilight Zone given that MSNBC has moved to POV Analysis with POV hosts…the very people who are the least credible when breaking news erupts. Indeed, the network just let one of its top two breaking news assets leave the network for the White House. Can you picture Ronan Farrow covering a terrorist attack? Joy Reid covering a natural disaster? The Cycle hosts covering a plane crash? Alex Wagner covering a market meltdown? See the problem?

The insider added, “The need for political experts is waning, which means many political contracts won’t be renewed and Goldie Taylor happens to be part of that collateral damage. She understands politics, but she has never worked in politics. [Things are] shifting to a large degree. It’s not that we don’t cover politics. CNN has been the place for breaking news. There’s nothing MSNBC can do about that. People leave Fox News when there’s breaking news.”

And we stay in the Twilight Zone because this leaker inadvertently points out an inherent contradiction in this approach. The whole reason to do more breaking news is on the theory that MSNBC needs more news becaues POV hasn’t been working well lately in the ratings. And yet the leaker admits that the network isn’t the place people go to for breaking news. So the question looms: what’s the point?

BTW, none of this seems to jell with Phil “I’m in this (POV) for the long haul” Griffin’s recent doubling down on finding new voices. This means that either the leaker is just causing mischief or Comcast really does want MSNBC to do more breaking news which would undermine everything Griffin recently said on the subject.

Either way, Phil Griffin will be pissed at this coming out…true or not.

MSNBC’s Experimentation…

Posted in MSNBC on September 30, 2014 by icn2

Today in the Fareed Zakaria scandal…nothing happened. So let’s talk about MSNBC. Variety’s Brian Steinberg writes about the network’s attempt to find “new voices” to combat the decline in viewership that saw CNN regain #2 in the 3rd quarter…

Giving time to new voices is a strategy that MSNBC is re-emphasizing as it seeks to take back ground it has ceded to rival CNN. In the third quarter, the Time Warner outlet, which has ratings woes of its own, saw all its daytime programming airing between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. trump MSNBC’s. “We are experimenting,” said Phil Griffin, MSNBC’s president, at a meeting with reporters Tuesday. “And if you are not experimenting, you should not be here.”

In Griffin’s view, a broadcaster like Diaz-Balart is an investment in the future. The U.S. Hispanic population has grown 50% from 2000 to 2012, to 53 million people, according to the Pew Research Center, with most of that growth coming from births in the U.S. rather than new immigrants. The newsman, who will continue to anchor Telemundo’s evening newscast “Noticiero Telemundo” and its Sunday public-affairs program “Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart,” wants to shine a light on issues involving immigration reform and Latin American economics that aren’t always on viewers’ radar.


MSNBC seems to be attempting to suss out issues that will be relevant to growing segments of U.S. consumers. The network this past weekend aired a primetime concert aimed at sparking global activism. And it has sought out non-traditional voices, like Ronan Farrow, whose early afternoon program has received some criticism despite focusing on issues more relevant to millenials than boomers.

Giving on-air real estate to people who aren’t “blow-dried anchors” is a considered one, said Griffin, who praised Farrow’s efforts. “I’m in this for the long term,” he said. “We have to get different voices.”

Different voice may or may not make a difference…that jury has yet to come back from deliberations. But topicality is important. One of the reasons I believe CNN surged to 2nd in the third quarter is because of the heavy news cycle. If everyone is concerned about ISIL, The Ukraine, Hong Kong protests and the like, you better be devoting significant A block time to it.

I mention this because a couple of weeks ago I happened to catch Maddow’s A block. She wasn’t talking any of those subjects but some obscure-to-non-ideologues state politics subject matter concerning Kansas I believe. How does MSNBC expect to make fresh voices work if those voices are not talking about the things everyone else is talking about?

For me, that’s MSNBC’s current problem in a nutshell. Their talent are too invested in their own political worlds when the rest of the world is sometimes more interested in something else.

MSNBC’s Latest Al Sharpton Headache

Posted in MSNBC on August 22, 2014 by icn2

In a must read, Politico Magazine’s Glenn Thrush makes MSNBC squirm some more over its still after all these years not at all clearly defined set of boundaries for itself and Al Sharpton…

What brought them together, according to numerous sources I’ve spoken with about this over the years, is a shared commitment to racial justice, and a hardheaded pragmatism that has fueled their success. “He realized I wasn’t as irrational or as crazy as people thought,” Sharpton told me in an interview this week, and indeed Sharpton not only visits the White House frequently, he often texts or emails with senior Obama officials such as Jarrett and Attorney General Eric Holder, the first African American to hold that job and who, like Sharpton, views the Ferguson crisis as a pivotal one in Obama’s presidency.

“I’ve known Al since he was 12 years old, and he’s arrived at the level he always wanted to arrive at, which is gratifying,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a colleague and sometimes rival, told me. “He’s the man who’s the liaison to the White House, he’s the one who’s talking to the Justice Department.”

The above two paragraphs alone illustrate in ways no other Sharpton/MSNBC story has so powerfully illustrated before, why MSNBC and Phil Griffin’s previous approach of sticking their heads in the sand whenever Sharpton’s antics draw unwelcome optics 30 Rock’s way is no longer a viable one.

The previous approach is underscored by TVNewser’s Jordan Chariton who brought up a Griffin quote on Sharpton from a few weeks ago…
Continue reading

David Gregory Out, Chuck Todd In…

Posted in MSNBC on August 14, 2014 by icn2

The news has leaked out via Brian Stelter, MSNBC’s lower thirds, and David Gregory’s tweeting, and finally NBC has acknowledged the news.

NBC News President Deborah Turness emails staff:

Dear All,

I want to share some news about Meet the Press. After an exceptional 20 years with NBC News, David Gregory is leaving the network.

I want to express my sincerest thanks to David, who, after the death of Tim Russert, led Meet the Press for almost 6 years. Under his leadership the show has had a string of exclusives, and David has shown a remarkable gift for holding leaders to account and getting answers on issues that matter to our audience. He is an outstanding journalist whose sharp intellect and quick sense of humor have made him a pleasure to work with. I know you all join me in expressing our deepest gratitude and in wishing him the very best.

I am very pleased to announce that Chuck Todd will take the helm on September 7. There is no one with a bigger passion for politics than Chuck. His unique ability to deliver that passion with razor sharp analysis and infectious enthusiasm makes him the perfect next generation moderator of this beloved broadcast. Chuck will ensure that Meet the Press is the beating heart of politics, the place where newsmakers come to make news, where the agenda is set. We have some exciting plans to evolve and update the broadcast under Chuck’s leadership that we will be sharing with you shortly.

Chuck will continue as NBC News political director, and will hand over his roles as chief White House correspondent and anchor of MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown.

Andrea Mitchell will serve as moderator of Meet the Press this weekend, and will continue to be a central figure of the broadcast, along with some new names that we will announce in the coming days.

For nearly seventy years, Americans have turned to Meet the Press on Sunday mornings for unrivaled insights on the news stories, political battles and public affairs debates dominating the national discussion. The next-generation Meet the Press, led by Chuck Todd, is certain to be the must-watch political destination on Sundays and beyond.


Left unsaid…who gets Chief White House Correspondent and who gets The Daily Rundown? Does the Daily Rundown continue at all going forward?

Chuck Todd to Meet The Press?

Posted in MSNBC on August 11, 2014 by icn2

Politico’s Mike Allen reports that Chuck Todd is the likely replacement for David Gregory on Meet The Press. Thanks. We all knew that…

Chuck Todd, a political obsessive and rabid sports fan, is the likely successor to David Gregory as moderator of “Meet the Press,” with the change expected to be announced in coming weeks, according to top political sources. The move is an effort by NBC News President Deborah Turness to restore passion and insider cred to a network treasure that has been adrift since the death in 2008 of the irreplaceable Tim Russert. Although Todd is not a classic television performer guaranteed to wow focus groups, his NBC bosses have been impressed by his love of the game, which brings with it authenticity, sources, and a loyal following among newsmakers and political junkies.

Phil Griffin Apologizes for Cinco De Mayo Controversy…

Posted in MSNBC on August 9, 2014 by icn2

I noted this on Twitter yesterday. Today The Huffington Post’s Roque Planas writes about Phil Griffin’s appearance at the National Association of Hispanice Journalists convention where he apologized for the Way Too Early Cinco De Mayo segement.

Nogales asked whether Griffin and MSNBC hosts would agree to have a meeting with a group of Latino experts to discuss how the network could better cultivate Hispanic sources and experts to interview on the air.

Griffin said he’d go one step further, asking to organize meetings on a continual basis and to bring producers into the meetings as well.

Diversifying the network isn’t just the right thing to do, Griffin said, it also makes business sense.

“There is a huge audience out there,” Griffin said, referring to Latinos. “And I want us to be the first one to tap into it in a really positive way.”

Griffin also noted during the panel that journalist José Díaz-Balart had recently joined the network to anchor on weekdays at 10 a.m.

“Having José in the newsroom has already changed our world,” Griffin said. He added that Díaz-Balart has helped make the network more representative of U.S. demographics by bringing Hispanic sources on air to talk about topics other than immigration.


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