Spin Control…

The New York Times’ Bill Carter writes about MSNBC’s ratings woes…

Rachel Maddow, the biggest star on the MSNBC cable network, just posted her lowest quarterly ratings results ever.

“Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s signature morning program, scored its second-lowest quarterly ratings, reaching an average of just 87,000 viewers in the key news demographic group.

And “Ronan Farrow Daily,” the network’s heavily promoted new afternoon show, which stars a 26-year-old Rhodes Scholar with a high-profile Hollywood lineage, has been largely a dud.


But then there’s this…

MSNBC consciously established its brand as politics-centric, approaching stories from a left-of-center viewpoint, in deliberate contrast to the right-of-center approach of Fox News, which continues to dominate the news channel ratings. At the same time, MSNBC moved away from a close relationship with NBC News that it had during the early years of the network. Today, fewer NBC News correspondents appear on MSNBC.

Mr. Griffin said that a general apathy about American politics has also hurt the network. “You can look at the dysfunction in Washington, the wariness about politics, the low approval ratings,” he said. “That’s had an impact. But we’ve got to adjust; we’ve got to evolve.”

Hmmmm…is this Phil Griffin signalling that MSNBC is moving off of politics…at least to some extent?

One longtime news executive who has worked for both network and cable news organizations said the problem with “Morning Joe” was partly a broader issue with MSNBC. “ ‘Morning Joe’ has been hurt because no one is tuning in to watch the channel now; they go right by,” he said. “The show took its eye off the ball, but you can’t discount the fact that nobody is watching the channel.”

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The executive, who asked not to be identified because of potential future business with MSNBC, said Ms. Maddow remains a draw, but her format has grown tired. “In terms of Rachel, everybody knows every night what she’s going to say,” he said. “The network just doesn’t surprise you.”

Oooohh…talking out of school in the same article that Griffin tries to position MSNBC’s story for Carter? Not good.

As for MSNBC, Mr. Griffin remained optimistic despite the challenges. He defended the network’s approach, but also hinted that it had to broaden its programming beyond politics.

“We have a good brand, a strong brand,” he said. “But we’ve got to get outside Washington and open up our aperture a little.”

No argument on the second point. But as to the first…if MSNBC’s brand is so stron…so good…why have its ratings gone so south. The whole point of having a strong brand is it allows you to weather the storm better.

4 Responses to “Spin Control…”

  1. And why is Ronan Farrow still on the air?

  2. Who the dickens are they going to put in in his place?

  3. I don’t disagree with much of what Carter has to say in his article or with Spuds comments either.

    Maddow’s show is often somewhat predictable and she has developed an annoying habit of repeating long explanations of the same story on repeated broadcasts. On the plus side she still is the one PT host that will give time to underreported stories from the hinterland and TRMS is still one of my favorite shows on the network. I wonder too if they don’t miss the steadying hand of Bill Wolff at the helm.

    Morning Joe badly needs a remake. Joe and Mika have become more and more arrogant with each passing week and the show now consists mostly the hosts either hectoring or fawning over sub-hosts, guests and the audience depending on whether or not they agree with what they say on the show.

    I like ‘All In’ for the most part although Hayes is often irritating to watch. Their in depth looks at subjects like the recent “Coal ” series are well done.

    Farrow is coming along as a host but he’s more cut out for the weekend and eventually pre PT or PT. Dayside is just the wrong timeslot.

    Jose Diaz-Balart is a disaster in the mold of Sharpton, Schultz and MHP and like those hosts he will draw a limited audience of those interested in Hispanic issues; that want their news delivered in English and not Spanish.

    I really miss Chuck Todd and fear his old show will decline without it’s old host. MTP maybe a high profile show but, unless they want to concentrate on politics, will waste Todd’s talent. Maybe they can give him a weekend show like the long form interview one that Tim Russert used to do on MSNBC. I always liked that program better than his MTP show.

    For me the best host and show on the network are Steve Kornacki and ‘Up With’. It’s the one show I never miss but it relies on the low key personality of Kornacki and his nerdy knowledge of politics. The only other regulars on the network with those same qualities are Ari Melber and to a lesser extent Luke Russert; but they don’t have shows – yet.

  4. Maybe the ratings have fallen because Rachel, Chris and Lawrence all cover the same 2-3 stories all night long every night for weeks at a time sometimes. Now it’s ebola. We have to have blanket coverage of every individual case. Little to no analysis, issues discussion, senate races, stories that they used to be the only ones talking about. Fewer interesting guests. If there is a shooting I don’t tune in for several days because I know that will be the only topic for a very long time and they won’t get off of it. For example this week we had to watch an empty podium for an eternity waiting for a press conference of the latest ebola outbreak. Seems like an update would do. The country has many important issues that MSNBC is the only one who might inform the nation but they seem to be just sticking to the sensational news story of the day and that’s all.

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