Tornado Mayhem Disrupts Two of Three Cable News Channels…

If you’ve been following my Twitter feed for over the past hour plus, you know what I’m about to write about and some of this will be repetition for you. We’ve got severe weather breaking news hammering a good portion of the midwest today. CNN and FNC have been all over this story with few deviations since I first started watching at 3pm. On the other hand MSNBC has been sticking to its regularly scheduled political programming with a few deviations to Bill Karins in studio hits on the Tornadoes.

“The Place for Politics”…I always thought it was a slogan but it’s actually a programming mindset that is running out of control at MSNBC. Any serious news organization would have dropped what it was doing and cover this story in depth by now. Not MSNBC. The sum total of its coverage during Martin Bashir’s alleged news show was a two minute Bill Karins hit and an awkward aside with Representative John Yarmouth who just happened to be near one of the storm areas where Bashir asked him about the Tornados before quickly parrying back to politics. During Dylan Ratigan (Ratigan is out today) Karins has been called in twice. But that’s the extent of MSNBC’s coverage of Tornados.

No you didn’t read that wrong. That’s all MSNBC has invested in this story this afternoon as of 4:31 ET today. Not one ground report from anyone. No switchover to the weather channel. No simulcasting of any of NBC’s affilliates in the area. Nothing. Zippo. Karins himself mentioned during Ratigan that the town of Marysville is “just gone…off the map” quoting a Clark County Sheriff.

Sounds serious, right? Might merit some attention, right? Well not right if you work at MSNBC today. This is the most embarrassing incident I’ve seen at MSNBC since the surprise Korean missile launch crisis almost six years ago when the network stayed dark during a three day weekend and wouldn’t break out of tape to cover an event nobody was expecting though NBC did schedule a special report on it so they could have used them to do some coverage on MSNBC.

But at least back in 2006 they had the excuse that it was a holiday weekend and nobody was around. Today they have no excuse. They’re fully staffed. They could go live and wall to wall if they wanted to. They obviously don’t want to.

Where’s Yvette Miley? She’s the one who shapes MSNBC’s dayside coverage. Is she asleep? On vacation? Can’t be bothered? What’s her excuse for letting this travesty unfold? MSNBC news viewers want to know why they have to go watch someone else to get the coverage they should be getting on MSNBC.

Today on Twitter I got people telling me in response to the flood of Tweets I put out on this subject that MSNBC wasn’t a news channel. My mind thought, “Gee that sounds awfully familiar” since some critics, including some talent at MSNBC, have been saying that about FNC for years. Well, now people are saying it about MSNBC too. Congratulations MSNBC, you have achieved parity with FNC is one regard…you both have critics saying you’re not a news channel.

But here’s the thing…that non-news channel FNC has been covering this wall to wall this afternoon…while that other non-news channel hasn’t. So what’s that tell you?

Update: For the first time since I started watching at slightly before 3pm ET, at 4:45 MSNBC had its first live video from the scene and its first on site reporting from the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore. But that moment quickly passed and MSNBC started talking about an “outlaw platoon” in Afghanistan. And so it goes for MSNBC. Does anyone who works there and is reading this feel just the slightest embarrassment at this fiasco? I’d love to hear from you…


38 Responses to “Tornado Mayhem Disrupts Two of Three Cable News Channels…”

  1. savefarris Says:

    Any serious news organization would have dropped what it was doing and cover this story seriously by now. Not MSNBC.

    That’s what you call “answering your own question”.

  2. MSNBC doesn’t care about news that’s why they don’t have live news at noon et, and 3pm et and 9 and 3 are politics

  3. You’d think they’d use the Weather Channel resources a bit more. I guess Comcast isn’t into corporate synergy as much as GE was.

  4. “MSNBC: Your News Alternative”

  5. MSNBC will cover it tonight if a tornado his a prison.

  6. MSNBC will cover it tonight if a tornado his a prison.


  7. If a Tornado was being political or leaned forward they would cover it

  8. ^ Wait, it did. I don’t know what state, maybe Alabama, but I saw it on Twitter.

  9. CNN is all over the storms. FOX and MSNBC right now both asleep.

  10. FOX and CNN live. MSNBC, politics.

  11. Yeah, Maddow no longer has any room to criticize FOX for being a political operation.

  12. At 7pm, MSNBC is at the taped edition of Hardball while CNN and FOX are wall-to-wall with tornado outbreak coverage.

  13. There is too much political hay to make trashing Limbaugh. MSNBC does not have time for the peasants.

  14. boy for a channel that cause Fox News channel not a news channel sure isn’t doing news.

  15. Well, I actually like the alternative + if I want to watch hurricane coverage i’ll watch cnn. If I want to watch politics(this is what I want) with updates about the weather every 15 or so minutes I’ll stick with msnbc

  16. I’ve gotta ask, where are the climate change deniers?

  17. Tornadoes in March. How could we have been so wrong?

  18. joeremi Says:

    If we get a few more non-winters here in California.. It’s been weird.

  19. Wow a tornado in March! Must be that evvilee Global Warning.

  20. On the other hand, March is kinda early. It’s been Spring-like for so long that it’s easy to forget. Damn dogwoods are blooming already,

  21. We have had a grand total of: *drumroll* One inch of snow this year. It’s been in the 50s and 60s, even 70s and 80s almost every day. That’s evidence enough for me.

  22. And that’s not Florida either. I live in DC.

  23. On Rachel Maddow, they showed the quad-box while talking about how it keeps the networks ahead. Every other network was showing tornado coverage and Rachel is not. #FAIL

  24. Trust me folks, you can’t make this up. MSNBC bragging about scooping other networks and breaking news… on this night of all nights. BAAAHAHAHAHA! #FAIL

  25. -that MSNBC wasn’t a news channel.-

    I don’t think MSNBC has tried being a real “news” channel in years. When that’s said about FNC it’s merely a not-very-clever put-down but I don’t mean it that way about MSNBC. They’re all about political programming and aren’t even trying to hide it. Are there any advertisements for them promoting their “news” reporting capabilities? If so, I haven’t seen one.

    It’s often said that to succeed in business one should look at what others in that business are doing and either copy them or do the opposite. Looks to me MSNBC has chosen the latter and is doing a pretty good job of it.

  26. I feel quite repetitive on this point, but how many nets do you need to cover the weather, anyway? You have three news-channels, TWC, and local news. Most of the people in the affected areas will be either watching local or listening to the radio. It’s hardly necessary for all three newsers to go balls-out with it.

  27. savefarris Says:

    Another factor here might be location. Had a natural disaster struck along the East Coast, in the Great Lakes, or in California, MSNBC probably would have covered it. But all those flyover states have nothing but bitter clingers who probably don’t watch MSNBC anyway.

    They don’t even rate as persons in MSNBC-ville, so covering their demise is less than a non-story. At least in their eyes.

  28. Speaking of balls, during tornadic weather people would be smart to follow some of those crazy chasers on Twitter.

  29. Grammie Says:

    If any tornadoes had struck the DNC Headquarters MSMBC would have had a half dozen or so folks reporting from inside the tornado.

  30. Grammie Says:

    Year before last we had a chillingly cold winter AND spring down here in central Florida. I actually broke out my heavy dress coat, hat and gloves from a prior and was still freezing in April and even into May at my grandson’s Little League games.

    It’s amazing how this global climate just keeps flipping back and forth between Global Cooling and Global Warming. I think that’s because that’s what weather does, it changes.

  31. I’m not big on hyperbole but, working in the news industry for a living, whoever allowed this segment to air as is should be fired:

    Showing that FOX and CNN were covering breaking news wall-to-wall while your network was not running any coverage at all… This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.

  32. savefarris Says:

    Clicked on the link and what’s the first thing that shows up? A Chevy Volt ad. Of course!

  33. joeremi Says:

    Chevy. Electric. Good mileage. Future-tech. Bad.

  34. Outsider Says:

    “They don’t even rate as persons in MSNBC-ville, so covering their demise is less than a non-story. At least in their eyes.”
    I was thinking the same thing Farris. Wouldn’t surprise if it were true.

    Maybe MSNBC should rebrand itself as a political news channel, kind of like those who specialize in business news, at least then it can get away with it’s poor coverage of other news.

  35. Being labelled a “news channel” affords MSNBC a brighter spotlight and enough credibility for its parent company to spread out some of its NBC News expenses around. I assume it costs quite a bit more to fund a news-gathering operation than it does for sit-com, reality, or talk show productions.

  36. imnotblue Says:

    ^ Although, as a “political channel,” they could argue that they’re ahead of the competition.

  37. “Political Channel”, to my knowledge, is not currently a category or at least not one that attracts advertisers. And if they did call it such that might make it more difficult for NBC News bookkeeping. So, if I was them, I’d call it a “news” channel and then keep costs down by running.. oh… documentary reruns on weekends or something.

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