MSNBC’s Experimentation…

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.

(snip)

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.

51 Responses to “MSNBC’s Experimentation…”

  1. savefarris Says:

    I found a transcript of the segment in question. And it’s a perfect distillation of Alinsky’s Rule #12.

    She repeats the full name of KS’s SecofState 34 times during the segment. “Kris Kobach did this, Kris Kobach did that, that’s who Kris Kobach is” as if he were acting on his own whim instead of dutifully following KS Election law.

  2. ^ That’s why I’ve gone from fan of (way back) Maddow to not being able to watch her at all anymore. She is absolutely terrible.

    MSNBC has multiple problems.
    1. They don’t care about news. They’re invested in hope, change, forwardness and being anti-whitey.
    2. They’re reactionary. Don’t have any black anchors? Hire Al Sharpton and give Joy Ann Reid a show. Not enough young viewers? Hire Ronan Sinatra. Growing HIspanic population? Hire Diaz-Balart (that one may actually work because JDB is actually competent).

  3. I don’t fault Griffin for experimenting with his programing. If your in third place that’s what you do.

    He seems to be attempting to give each show a theme based on the hosts personal, and mostly liberal, interests. Diaz-Balart, Farrow, Schultz, Sharpton, MHP etc. are all good examples of this programing style. That works if you have enough viewers that share that interest.

    For example, I love Steve Kornacki’s show because I like in depth and highly detailed discussion of US election politics. Griffins is betting that each shows specialized audience will be big enough to grow the ratings overall. The jury’s out on that premise.

    CNN; when it actually is covering news; is covering one,two or rarely three stories they consider hot, at the moment, and mostly ignoring everything else. If no big news stories are happening they lose viewers. At the moment, because it’s a big news week, (it’s Ebola, the Secret Service and ISIS) so their audiences are big.

    FNC covers every story, no matter how irrelevant, through the prism of how it can make the POTUS and Democrats look bad. When none exist they just make them up. This gives them ratings stability and: because their audience is the conservative talk radio audience; it’s substantial and loyal.

    “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?”

    ^^Maddow covers lots of obscure stories that the other media are ignoring at the moment. The Kansas story blew up a few days later into a big political story. Now everyone, covering the midterm elections, is covering it big time. At the moment she is the only one talking about leaving 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan for the next ten years or more. In a slower news week that’s a big story.

    “I believe CNN surged to 2nd in the third quarter is because of the heavy news cycle.”

    ^^ On this we agree. It gets harder each quarter to judge CNN’s ratings as the step away from covering news, particularly in PT, and morph into a reality network.

  4. savefarris Says:

    I would hate to criticize a host for thinking outside the box when planning the A Block. Lord knows MSNBC is the worst on days where any bad news leaks about Christie, Walker, Romney, etc.

    HOWEVER, on the day in question there were a plethora of interesting stories Maddow could have led with other than “Kansas Secretary of State does his job”:

    * The chinese e-commerce site had a HUGE IPO offering on day 1. What does this mean for the global economy as well as US implications?

    * Unnamed sources at DOJ confirm that Christie is in the clear as far as Bridgegate. Given the amount of time spent on the story earlier, you’d think this would at least rate a mention.

    * Biden pulls a Trent Lott, praises serial Harasser Bob Packwood. War on Women?

    * Hey, someone just jumped the White House Fence!

  5. …and being anti-whitey.

    How long are you going to put up with this, Spud?

  6. savefarris Says:

    Probably as long as Al Sharpton keeps drawing a paycheck at the Peacock…

  7. “Probably as long as Al Sharpton keeps drawing a check”

    He’s one of many. It’s the entire network. MSNBC is Tommy Christopher with cameras and lights.

  8. “It’s the entire network. MSNBC is Tommy Christopher with cameras and lights.”

    ^^Or FNC is like Erick Erickson with cameras and lights. Snooze.

  9. savefarris Says:

    Ha, ha: reflexive FNC bashing. How original!!!

    You’d have a hard time arguing that Shep Smith or Bret Baier are Erickson clones. (Heck, you couldn’t even argue that O’Reilly fits the mold because of his one-off liberal stances on gun control and global warming).

    Go ahead: try and find a hair’s worth of policy difference between Maddow/Hayes/O’Donnell/Matthews/Sharpton/Schultz/Mitchell/Reid/MHP/Kornacki other than style/tone/volume.

    Yeah, one focuses more on labor while others focus more on race-baiting. But they’re all reading from the same menu.

  10. MSNBC makes the same mistakes as Air America made. They hire random angry liberals and hope for other angry liberals to watch. There is no cross over appeal. What moderates are going to watch Schultz, Maddow or LOD? I used to watch Matthews every day. I never agreed but it was entertaining. Then he turned into a race card playing crack pot full of nutty conspiracy theories with very few dissenting voices allowed. No thanks.

  11. “^^Or FNC is like Erick Erickson”

    There’s no comparison between FNC and MSNBC. FNC is a news channel which skews right. CNN is a news channel which skews left. MSNBC is an Internet blog for liberals.

  12. CNN analyst wonders if Michelle Obama was the key to the quick firing. Funny. Very plausible. Telling. But still funny.

  13. “There’s no comparison between FNC and MSNBC. FNC is a news channel which skews right. CNN is a news channel which skews left. MSNBC is an Internet blog for liberals.”

    ^^Whatever.

  14. savefarris Says:

    As our friends on the Blue side of the aisle would say: “Science, b*tches!”

    http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/196025/in-final-week-of-election-msnbc-aired-no-positive-romney-stories/

  15. “^^Whatever.”

    Ok. Good talk.

  16. MSNBCers always enjoy playing by different sets of rules. They can do and say pretty much anything they like and can accuse others of any and everything. They are ideologically simpatico with the rule makers.

  17. We got the one guy babbling about “anti-whitey”, then the other guy shows up with something from Matthews, which is somehow backed up by some blog about Palin from June, 2013. All of it race-baiting hooey. Can you imagine someone coming along and bothering to read this drivel?

  18. At last check, “lazy” was on page 2,873 of the racial decoder book.

  19. savefarris Says:

    Yep, it’s right there between “golf” and “refusing to get repeatedly punched in the face”

  20. MSNBC has to offer a quality news product. Period. All of these gimmicks – finding the right voice – are just that: gimmicks. They may get lucky with one or two or them; but that’s not enough to really address the major problem.

    The “politics all the time” approach is only of interest over the long haul to junkies or ideologues. And the market, especially for the liberal/left segment, simply isn’t enough to succeed.

    I would think even liberals have to get bored with the “conservatives are awful” stories?

    None of this is original, I admit, but it’s obvious what they need to do. But Griffin is so wedded to politics that he can’t or won’t change.

    So, they have to get a replacement for Griffin.

  21. MSNBC is like the TSA. They are reactionary and always one step behind.

    Some guy tries to blow up a plane with a shoe bomb so now we have to take our shoes off.
    MSNBC gets criticized for being too white so they hire Al Sharpton.
    There’s a threat of liquid explosives so if we have too large a tube of toothpaste, we have to throw it away.
    MSNBC struggles in the demo so they hire Ronan Farrow?

    Erich is correct. They are gimmicky. And, they are angry which is why they have zero cross-over appeal. It’s not enough for them to disagree with conservatives on taxes. They have to tell you why conservatives think the way they do. And, for MSNBC, it always comes down to an ism. Racism. Sexism. Whatever. Nobody wants to hear that crazy nonsense except for the true believers. And, that’s all they’ll ever appeal to.

    Meanwhile, the best Fox haters can do is whine about Megyn Kelly’s latest wardrobe, lipstick color or hair style while she kills it in the ratings. What the Fox haters don’t realize is that people don’t tune in because she has blonde hair. They tune in because she’s good at what she does. MSNBC thinks you can just put somebody in a chair and have them scream “racism” and get people to watch. Well, that doesn’t work.

  22. “I would think even liberals have to get bored with the “conservatives are awful” stories?”

    ^^Nah Erich, there are never enough “conservatives are awful” stories.🙂

    Beside the reverse works so well over at FNC I think the MSNBC programmers can’t believe there aren’t as many liberals just waiting to watch the reverse on their network. Turns out most liberals aren’t that partisan.

  23. See, fritz, that’s why MSNBC is a failure. Management thinks the way you do.

    FNC is a news operation that leans right. MSNBC is an angry blog that happens to be on TV.

    Even though virtually every anchor at CNN leans left, I watch a lot of CNN. Other than (formerly) TDR and Andrea Mitchell, not many other programs on MSNBC register as watchable. It’s all hate-filled nonsense.

    Chuck Todd leans left. Andrea Mitchell leans left. But they were/are watchable because they’re not crazy. They don’t get in front of the camera and scream racism or call their political opponents terrorists.

    Look at FNC’s Primetime lineup: Shep, Greta, BOR, Kelly, Hannity. Every one of them with the exception of Hannity have plenty of cross-over appeal. And, I imagine plenty of liberals watch Hannity because he’s generally jocular and not foaming at the mouth angry.

    Contrast that with the MSNBC lineup made up of people who are either: a) fall asleep boring or b) angry cranks and c) rarely have strong dissenting opinions.

  24. Meanwhile, the best Fox haters can do is whine about Megyn Kelly’s latest wardrobe, lipstick color or hair style while she kills it in the ratings. What the Fox haters don’t realize is that people don’t tune in because she has blonde hair. They tune in because she’s good at what she does.

    Yes, and what she does is look hot; lie about what her job is; and pander to rightwing loons all the way to the bank. Yes, she’s good at it.

  25. icemannyr Says:

    When you call your self a “straight news anchor” or a news show and then do a conservative POV news talk show you are going to get critics of the show.

  26. “When you call your self a “straight news anchor” or a news show and then do a conservative POV news talk show you are going to get critics of the show.”

    Oh, ok. Like Anderson Cooper or Don Lemon or Chris Cuomo or any number of others from the left?

    You don’t like Megyn Kelly because Fox. I know you’ve gone after Lemon for his activism at times but his activism is overt activism not simply uttering an opinion. You hold Megyn Kelly to a completely different standard simply because she’s Megyn Kelly. Every “straight news anchor” on TV gives opinions from time to time. If not overtly, then in the way they frame their questions or the stories they choose to promote.

    The Megny Kelly fascination is borderline stalkerish.

  27. The Megny Kelly fascination is borderline stalkerish.

    Her name is Megyn and you brought her up, person who thinks talking about cable news personalities on a cable news blog is stalkerish. I think it’s a little more interesting and on topic than “MSNBC is anti-whitey”.

  28. Farris:

    Found this with Matthews & Mitchell aghast at someone calling the POTUS lazy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV_AFnQEAmU

  29. BTW, Ice, I’ll give you credit, you do typically criticize Megyn for what you see as her being more partisan than you’d like. It’s others around here who constantly reference her hair color or make up or clothing or other nonsense.

  30. Kelly indeed crosses the line back and forth between anchor and opinion or commentator. What is she exactly? But except for Tapper every cable anchor does that now, don’t they? Anyone other than Tapper?

    It’s pretty much SOP for them now. I don’t know when it became acceptable but they all do it to varying degree except, again, Tapper.

    There is something odd though about the criticism directed at Kelly for this. She does seem to irk people more.

  31. Oh please. Megyn Kelly did a heavy media tour where she insisted she was going to be a straight news anchor, not do a righty opinion show like the rest of Fox Primetime. She gets singled out because she makes such a show of lying about what she does for a living, and is raking in the ratings for it. Jake Tapper did not do that tour; does not do the blatant, pandering crap Megyn does; and does not have a high profile show. If you think talking about one of the top-rated hosts in cable news on a cable news blog is unusual, you’re on the wrong blog. This is ridiculous.

  32. ^Frankly, an opinion from a crackpot like you is meaningless.

    But it’s a free blog. So cuckoo away to your heart’s content.

  33. You got a personal problem, Erich? Take it to Spud.

  34. The OP was about the ratings problems at MSNBC.

    Then we get the usual suspects attacking Megyn Kelly.

    Now, I don’t necessarily disagree with that criticism (as I noted above); but when the post was about MSNBC and it goes off to Kelly’s work, that is evidence of some sort of problem not just with Kelly but with some – note some – or her critics.

    And yes, you’re still a crackpot.

  35. “Tapper every cable anchor does that now, don’t they? Anyone other than Tapper?”

    ^^On CNN Crowley and Blitzer are over the top non partisan. It makes them unwatchable for me as they accept every talking point, no matter how crazy, as fact. They question almost nothing. Tapper will, at least, question obvious lies. Look at his reports from Ferguson.
    FNC and MSNBC are partisan networks and that’s fine with me.

  36. LS brought up Megyn, so take it up with him. Keep up the name calling and I’ll bring it up with Spud. You’re out of line, buddy.

  37. icemannyr Says:

    As Joe notes we did not bring up Megyn. I was just responding to LS.

  38. The same guy who regularly calls people names (I’ve been on the receiving end of several over the years; but who hasn’t?) and regularly tells people what they can and cannot say (that, too) now complains about being on the receiving end of a small amount of that treatment.

    That person is either not to bright or a crackpot.

    I’ll go with crackpot with a capital crack.

    The state rests it case. I’ll await a summary judgment.

  39. I could watch Blitzer or Crowley any day and give you an example. I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s just the way it is. Y’all act as if Megyn should play by a set of rules you hold no one else accountable for.

    And, you do remember it was Crowley who jumped to Obama’s defense in a freaking debate, don’t you?

  40. Ice: As I stated, some – again some – critics of Kelly’s have a problem that is more than her opining when she shouldn’t be. After all, a lot of so-called anchors do this. This is not unique to her.

    But I’ll note the response to LS’s observation pretty much proves his point.

    And here we are again where the discussion is about MSNBC but it has to turn to Fox.

    And Kelly.

    Very odd.

  41. Spud has done plenty of work on cleaning up this blog and reinforcing the rules. I am not going to tolerate harassment over some old beef he cleaned up a year ago. You’re out of line to start in on me here, and I WILL take care of it if you don’t calm down.

    LS brought up Megyn out of the blue to bash her critics. He got the proper response. Deal with it.

  42. But back to MSNBC, I think the popularity of Olbermann hurt MSNBC long term. The left had a deep seeded hatred for Bush so when Olby started calling the sitting POTUS a fascist and a war criminal and equated him with Nahzees, the left fell in love. Olby’s ratings skyrocketed. MSNBC brass saw this as a model to follow. But, their mistake was in thinking that formula could breed long term success. You’re never going to get cross-over viewers with that kind of stuff. And, when you have to cover breaking news with a stable full of these cranks, you’re going to look silly.

  43. savefarris Says:

    [Megyn Kelly] gets singled out because she makes such a show of lying about what she does for a living

    “my job is to cover these things, not to tell you how I like them or not.” — Rachel Maddow, 6/26/12

    “Doing this takes rigor and a devotion to facts that borders on obsessive.” — Rachel Maddow, 2010 Lean Forward ad

    “we are not a political operation, Fox is. We are a news operation and the rules around here are part of how you know that.” — Rachel Maddow, 11/5/10

    Crowley and Blitzer are over the top non partisan

    “[Obama] did call it an act of terror.” — Candy Crowley, 2012 Presidential Debate

    “The president’s job approval rating has taken a downward turn again, falling below 40%…” — Wolf Blitzer, 13 times in a 3 hour period, 3/13/2006

    ” …” — Wolf Blitzer, never mentioning Obama’s similar poll numbers in a 4 month period (6/2014-9/2014)

  44. Thanks for saving me the time, Farris.

    It is odd that MSNBC got rid of Olberman but then continued to follow the trend he set.

    And now they’re trapped in a corner. They either have to make major changes – including I’ll suggest Griffin – or just continue to sink in the swamp.

    Ailes may be irresponsible (he wants to be a player in the GOP) too often but he knows when to get rid of people and shake things up. He’s not afraid to change the status quo over there.

  45. icemannyr Says:

    I’ve always considered the hosts at MSNBC to be liberals hosting opinion shows which is why I don’t complain about them.

  46. savefarris Says:

    That’s cause you at least have a hint of intellectual honesty ice, unlike … the hosts at MSNBC.

  47. savefarris Says:

    Yet another example of Maddow’s “straight news anchor” routine: since 2012, the non-battleship-sized governor Maddow has reported on more than any other is Bob McDonnell of VA, who was just found guilty of corruption charges.

    Come today, we find out that McDonnell’s successor, Terry McCauliffe and his chief of staff were caught trying to bribe a state senator.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/mcauliffe-aide-suggested-job-for-senators-daughter-if-he-remained-in-his-seat/2014/10/02/e4564904-4984-11e4-b72e-d60a9229cc10_story.html

    Maddow’s response? Sorry, the lure of Virginia politics is apparently no longer what it once was. The more important story was the “outrageous” court ruling that TX abortion clinics that didn’t meet health code standards couldn’t remain open.

  48. “Come today, we find out that McDonnell’s successor, Terry McCauliffe and his chief of staff were caught trying to bribe a state senator.”

    ^^BS. Do you ever read the stories you refer to farris? Even the headline you quote makes no mention of a bribe; just a suggested, and fully legal, hint at a offer of a government job for his daughter. There is the slight appearance of patronage but that’s all.

  49. The main reason I watch MSNBC is because they DON”T cover the same irrelevant, sensationalistic, so-called “breaking news” bullsh*t that CNN and Fox cover.
    ISIS, Ebola and Putin don’t affect my everyday life, and never will. What’s going on in Congress affects my everyday life.
    The so-called “breaking news” that CNN and Fox cover equals nothing more than whatever the Republican Party is politicking over at the moment.

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