The MSNBC Pendulum Swingeth?

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.


12 Responses to “The MSNBC Pendulum Swingeth?”

  1. Most of the hosts you listed have covered breaking news, and most of it wasn’t terrible. Even Ronan is capable of asking basic questions of a reporter on scene.

  2. savefarris Says:

    I think you’ve just written their new slogan!

    MSNBC: It Wasn’t Terrible

  3. “I think you’ve just written their new slogan!
    MSNBC: It Wasn’t Terrible”

    ^^Better than the FNC slogan:


  4. “most of it wasn’t terrible.”

    Some species of fish comes with their own barrel.

  5. Have you seen news coverage on cable lately? Trust me, “not terrible” is a step up.

  6. Would covering breaking news really be that much cheaper than what they are doing now? And what would that even mean? Are they going to cover car chases and building fires in random cities? I doubt it.

  7. It is a rather odd comment, Josh. MSNBC never stopped covering major breaking news, so I’m not clear what this “change” actually means.

  8. I wonder if any higher ups at NBC News (if they still have any say on MSNBC) are wanting a change. And I wonder what they mean by breaking news , do they mean CNN style or repeating themselves, random “experts” , props and days on end of nothing or something with more substance?
    Wagner, Farrow, the cycle folks, Reid are bit better for having breaking news than using Sharpton , Shultz or Matthews

  9. savefarris Says:

    Swing… and a miss.

    To be fair, you could argue that MSNBC’s biggest problem is the Obama popularity freefall. Noone wants to tune in to see cheerleading for a losing team.

    … then again, FNC was able to maintain their dominance despite Bush’s late slide.

  10. Maybe Griffin should hire a bunch of hot babes to say crazy stuff every day. Ratings!

  11. savefarris Says:

    Nah, he tried that and Ronan just ain’t cutting it.

  12. The little bit of MSNBC I’ve seen in the past few weeks, they’ve definitely had more news and less politics than in recent years.

    Their entire lineup needs to be changed – daytime and primetime.

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