Williams to MSNBC?
The New York Times’ Emily Steel, John Koblin, and Ravi Somaiya write about the rumored fate of Brian Williams…
Exactly what Mr. Williams’s new role at NBC entails is not clear. But revitalizing MSNBC, which has suffered sharp ratings declines, is known to be a priority of Andrew Lack, the former president of NBC News who was brought back in March to head the division. With the evening news anchor decision out of the way, Mr. Lack is expected to focus a good portion of his attention on fixing MSNBC, and in the coming months, the cable network is expected to introduce more hard news and more reporting from NBC News talent during daytime hours, according to a person briefed on the plans. That would be something of a break from its more opinion-based programming.
The new role can be viewed as a humbling comedown for Mr. Williams, who before the controversy was one of the country’s most prominent and respected broadcast journalists. One point of contention during the negotiations over his new role at the network was the extent to which Mr. Williams would apologize for the controversy, according to a television executive who discussed the issue with people at NBC.
You know the phrase “throw the baby out with the bathwater”? Well there’s a corollary phrase (which I just invented); “Keep the bathwater with the baby”. The bathwater is Williams. The baby is the $50,000,000 contract he signed with NBC this year. NBC doesn’t want to give up that money without a return of some kind. It has apparently decided that even though Williams is too radioactive to have a prominent role on NBC, that radioactivity is not enough to keep him off MSNBC.
More than anything else NBC could do this year, this one move says how little NBC values MSNBC.
This isn’t the end of the Brian Williams catastrophe for NBC. It is just the first act. The second act is trying to sell America on the idea that someone who so damaged its news division that he can’t come back to its star properties in any meaningful manner is perfectly fine on a cable news channel desperately seeking a new identity and a path for relevance again.
MSNBC…featuring serial distorter Brian Williams. NBC has found MSNBC’s new identity. Its path for relevance? Not so much.