Ronan Farrow: Bust?

Salon’s Brian Steinberg explains why he thinks Ronan Farrow has been a bust on MSNBC…

But then “Ronan Farrow Daily” premiered. And in its little more than three months on the air, it has struggled in the ratings and largely failed to engage the cultural conversation. Between April 28 and May 23, his 1 p.m. show generated an average of just 50,000 in the demographic most desired by advertisers in news programming, viewers ages 25 to 54, according to Nielsen. Compare that with the 161,000 tuning in to panel show “Outnumbered” on Fox News Channel, or the 73,000 watching CNN’’s “Legal View.” So what went wrong? Why is the Ronan Farrow of “Ronan Farrow Daily” so different from what most of us — least of all MSNBC — expected?

It’s hard to find fault with any of Steinberg’s points such as…

This may be the biggest surprise of MSNBC Ronan, in light of the way charisma oozed from his pre-TV persona: He’s boring. On the air, he is mannequin-ish and inaccessible, more suave ambassador than nerdy emcee. He’s not a clever orator like Maddow or a fiery one like Lawrence O’Donnell. He seems tightly wound on camera, particularly when interviewing guests who are not in the studio. He tends to speak over them: Introductions and farewells are awkward largely because he does not pause for the inevitable “hello” or “thank you” a new guest or departing interviewee is bound to utter. He is also prone to telling viewers “we’ll come back to that point” when breaking into an interview, but never doing so.

Sure, part of the problem may be that MSNBC doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with him. If Farrow was seen as a means of building bridges with a new generation of viewers, why not launch him at 11 p.m., when youth-skewing stuff like “The Daily Show” has fared well? Putting him on at 1 p.m., when he is surrounded by ads for erectile-dysfunction drugs, pitches for the buffet line at Golden Corral, and direct-response spots for Life Alert (Help me! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!) seems to defeat the purpose of a program that hopes to galvanize a generation. And Hayes, Kornacki et al. mostly got their starts on the network by filling in on prime time while Rachel Maddow or others were away. Their introductions were gradual; audience and host could feel each other out. Farrow arrived with a trumpet blast of publicity.


5 Responses to “Ronan Farrow: Bust?”

  1. All failings that were discussed before Ronan was tossed out, sink or swim. The arrogance of Griffin.

  2. “It’s hard to find fault with any of Steinberg’s points”

    ^^I have to agree. It’s an excellent article and well worth the read.

    I’ve been pretty disappointed with Farrow’s show; mostly because he didn’t deliver what the advertised in the pre launch promos – coverage of stories that no one else was covering . The Dayside timeslot and not doing any sub-hosting pre launch also were mistakes IMO.

    I think they need to move the show to weekends, make it two hours and let him do the show he said he wanted to do originally. Concentrate on foreign affairs, cut out the gimmicks and give him a year to learn his craft. His goal should be to have a show that looks like FZ-GPS and not Thomas Roberts on Dayside. He has potential but the show he’s doing now is going to fail.

  3. savefarris Says:

    mostly because he didn’t deliver what the advertised in the pre launch promos – coverage of stories that no one else was covering .

    Can’t really blame him for this one. His ruthless taskmasters at the DNC are intent on pushing the media narrative of the day and no one, NO ONE is to deviate from the script.

  4. danoregon Says:

    I just get the feeling Farrow’s hiring was all about something that had nothing to do with him being able to attract an audience. If the network was truly interested in what he could deliver, they would have had him cover world affairs for six months to give him a layer of gravitas. As it is – it seems like he was hired more for his access to other people or as a favor. Bright guy – but woefully miscast.

  5. griffen fell in love.

    With somebody.

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