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.

7 Responses to “Williams to MSNBC?”

  1. A lot of people, including myself, like Brian Williams. The New York Times article suggests that NBC News is focused immensely in rebranding MSNBC. They’re bringing in new talent. Just last night, I was watching MSNBC for coverage of the Charleston massacre because they were the only ones on and, instead of having their opinion hosts on, they brought NBC’s rising star Angie Goff in to do breaking news coverage.

    I don’t think Brian Williams’ credibility is completely destroyed. There are A LOT of people who want him back on the news, thousands in fact. He brings a name to MSNBC and, despite his woes, he brings more credibility anchoring breaking news coverage than Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, Chris Hayes or Alex Wagner.

  2. You don’t get anywhere with “thousands” of people wanting something in the news business. You need way more than that to be profitable.

    Tough I do concur on the Al, Ed, Chris & Alex comment. I wish they actually had some “true news” people on MSNBC because I think with breaking news that still have the resources of NBC News to use for video and “on the scene” tile reporters. I always thought of Richard Liu as potentially that kind of guy, but don’t so much anymore.

  3. You don’t get anywhere with “thousands” of people wanting something in the news business. You need way more than that to be profitable.

    I’m just talking about comments on NBC News’ page alone that get thousands of likes.

    Brian Williams would be a huge ratings draw, initially, for MSNBC. And he’s competent on breaking news, something MSNBC desperately needs. Andrea Mitchell, Thomas Roberts, Jose Diaz-Balart, Richard Lui and Angie Goff seem to be the only people who can handle breaking news events on MSNBC.

  4. Grandpa Dave Says:

    It’s official now; Williams will anchor ‘breaking news’ on MSNBC. I’d guess that is just temporary. It takes longer to get free up an hour in prime or near-prime time for Williams.

    My picks: 5pm or 6pm. Hayes, at 8pm does OK in the demo.

  5. savefarris Says:

    The Reverend set the land speed record getting himself to Charleston.

  6. I never watched Williams on NBC so most likely won’t watch him do ‘Shep lite’ on MSNBC. And I don’t care if thy give him a slot on MSNBC as long as it isn’t Maddow’s or Kornacki’s.

    I do expect he will garner big ratings (for MSNBC anyway) for a few weeks but I can’t see it lasting. Those who think he will save the network are simply wrong. The upcoming election is what will revive moribund MSNBC ratings – if that’s possible.

    This whole move is all about keeping Williams silent for the foreseeable future and little else. Since they have to pay him anyway they might as well see how he’s received by the public without risking putting him on NBC. In a year or so he’ll move on to some other gig (CNN, in Larry Kings old slot?) and all will be forgotten.

  7. […] Unvarnished News & Opinion on Cable News « Williams to MSNBC? […]

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