Uygur vs. MSNBC…
Cenk Uygur’s version of events is now out and it elaborates significantly upon what MSNBC told Deadline New York. The main issue that MSNBC is going to have to address is the charge that Uygur was told in April by Phil Griffin apparently (Uygur doesn’t name Giffin specifically but does say “the head of MSNBC”…which is Griffin) that he was just in Washington and people in Washington are concerned about Uygur’s tone and that Uygur needed to tone it down and essentially fall in line with the “establishment” (that’s my paraphrase of Uygur’s commentary). Uygur, according to his commentary, left the meeting with the intention of doing the exact opposite.
But the question on my mind is who is “Washington”? Is it NBC’s D.C. Bureau? Is it the Obama administration? Who is it that’s worried about Uygur’s tone and more importantly why are they dictating to New York what Uygur should or should not do? If it’s the D.C. Bureau, were they worried that Uygur’s aggressive style may cause blowback and potentially jeopardize booking opportunities for other flagship shows like Meet the Press, Morning Joe, Daily Rundown, or Mitchell Reports?
MSNBC is going to chafe, with some justification, that Uygur is relaying internal email information – Uygur states his ratings info came from internal MSNBC emails (I’m aware that the network assembles and distributes daily ratings encapsulations of the previous days numbers and who did well…something all the networks no doubt do in some manner). But Uygur uses those numbers to argue that he did better than Ed Schultz was doing last year which he attributes to his even more free wheeling and confrontational style than the one which first brought him in to be talked to by Griffin. Uygur says that the week before he was told MSNBC didn’t want him doing the 6pm his show beat The Situation Room by 51,000 viewers in the 25-54 Demo and beat Special Report in the less talked about publicly 18-34 Demo.
If the story Uygur has relayed is accurate, what MSNBC has to answer for is why did they feel Uygur’s show’s apparent upward trend didn’t seem to matter in the end? And why would they pay him even more money than he was already making to take on a much smaller role at the network?
I’m also wondering how long before someone writes how Uygur’s story with MSNBC relates to Keith Olbermann’s story with MSNBC…
Update: The New York Times’ Brian Stelter sheds some light on those “mysterious Washington people” Uygur says were concerned about his tone…
In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Griffin denied Mr. Uygur’s accusations and sounded disappointed that he had decided not to accept the weekend position. “We never told Cenk what to say or what not to say,” Mr. Griffin said.
The “people in Washington,” he said, were MSNBC producers who were responsible for booking guests for the 6 p.m. hour, and some of them had said that Mr. Uygur’s aggressive body language and overall demeanor were making it harder to book guests. “The conversation was, ‘Hey, look, here’s how we can make it better’ — about physical things on the show,” Mr. Griffin said.
Hang on…Griffin denies the accusations but admits to the people in Washington part? Isn’t Griffin basically inadvertently confirming the central point in Uygur’s story?
Update 2: Well that didn’t take long. Uygur is booked on Countdown Thursday night. Gee, I wonder what they’ll have to talk about?