Shooting Fish In a Barrel…

Ring of Fire is trying to organize a response to MSNBC’s pulling the plug on its 3-5 block (and other past “anti-progressive” transgressions)

The following loyal (or should we say former loyal) viewer of MSNBC sent the below email to Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC, expressing her disappointment with the demise of a once powerful Progressive voice in the media.

(snipping off emailer’s name)

VERY IMPORTANT: We hope our ROF audience will send their thoughts to Mr. Griffin at Please send us a copy of your email to and we will post on our web site.

I’m going to now quote from this email because it’s just too good to pass up.

Note to Progressives who will no doubt take offense: I do this not because I care whether MSNBC tilts Progressive, Conservative, Libertarian, or Bull Moose (Google it). I do this because if you want to succeed at this you need to make a convincing argument. This qualifies as a swing and a miss at worst, a foul tip at best.

Dear Mr. Griffin,

When MSNBC was created, I had such high hopes for a new type of media, one that would be progressive and allow talk show hosts to express their opinions without having boundaries. The progressive audience had some of the best of progressive media: Keith Olbermann, Martin Bashir, Karen Finley, Joy Reid, Ronan Farrow, Alex Wagner and Ed Schultz.

When MSNBC was created it was a straight news channel. When MSNBC was created none of the people mentioned were considered part of progressive media. When MSNBC was created there wasn’t any kind of “progressive audience” as far as cable news was concerned. IF you’re going to make an argument make sure you’ve got your facts straight. And if you like your progressive voices so much you should know how to spell their names. It’s F-I-N-N-E-Y.

The letter writer then goes on to detail their feeling about the loss of Ed Schultz. I won’t argue this point much. I’ve already said Schultz carved out a niche no one else touched in cable news. Had the writer just stuck to this instead of venturing into territory they didn’t fully comprehend the specifics of, this letter would have resonated much stronger than it now will. However the first paragraph and what follows below undermine all that.

Mr. Griffin, you started a new kind of television. I kept hearing that MSNBC had low ratings but how could this be and who was being polled?

Uh…a random sampling of people. Progressives, Non-progressives, independents, conservatives, anyone. That’s the point of ratings. They measure everyone. If they only measured one subset, they aren’t very useful to advertisers who want to reach the broadest audience possible.

After all, you covered the Presidential Correspondents Dinner. You were the only channel that got this honor.

Wrong. All the cable channels did. Never put arguments into your appeal which are demonstrably false.

MSNBC covered the debates.

So did the other channels (when allowed to. Some debates are exclusive to certain channels, especially in the primaries).

It was the only channel I watched. In fact, since it was created, it has been my go to channel. When people ask what I watch, I tell them I’m an MSNBC addict.

Ok. But you and people like you aren’t enough. That’s why MSNBC’s ratings fell. Not enough people besides the “true believers” watched. It’s a nice appeal but it’s from a point of weakness. And MSNBC executives know it.

I love Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Rachel and Lawrence O’Donnell. Now what, Mr. Griffin? Will their voices be silenced too? Will MSNBC become another CNN?

No. Even if it wanted to, it couldn’t. It doesn’t have the resources. And NBC doesn’t want to give MSNBC that level of resources because it doesn’t see the money in it.

P.S. Please take “Lockup” off!!! It is a insult to a very intelligent audience. What is the point of this show? You could use this time to educate your viewers similar to what “Vice” does. Show documentaries. Put on something that makes us think.

On this point, the writer and I are in lockstep agreement. But that’s not going to change.

16 Responses to “Shooting Fish In a Barrel…”

  1. You’re not wrong. But a little rough on someone who is not as “inside baseball” as yourself.

  2. Please!

    ratings comment- doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to understand ratings

    correspondants dinner-has the poor girl never heard of C-Span?

    debate coverage-maybe she no clue that other channels cover debates because she only watches MSNBC

    Seems like a truly clueless young person who needs a little seasoning about how the real world works. She probably believes everyone flipping burgers should earn $15/hr, too!

    He was not too rough on her. She not a helpless little snowflake is she? She needs to have Rachel to tell her to toughen up-the world isn’t fair!

  3. […] ICN: Campaign to save cancelled MSNBC shows misses the mark. […]

  4. I could easily see myself being a regular MSNBC watcher again………stop having the prime time the same show just with different hosts……bring back real liberals like Donahue and stop acting like you work for the DNC. Stop having the most partisan left and only left handle after GOP debate shows……I hope that’s what they handled Williams for/

    I miss the old MSNBC before they went nuts. I used to just leave it on MSNBC from 2pm till 8… I rarely watch.

    If they really want to be a news network again…..they have a lot of real work to do……in breaking news almost NOBODY thinks to turn on MSNBC 1st…..for any news network…..that should be a problem.

    But it comes down to ratings….I predicted that Comcast wouldn’t put up with losing everything the minute they took over… would only be a matter of time………No way they bring any of those people back. When a prison Doc gets better ratings on it 10 showing then your prime time in the demo……its change time.

  5. “Shooting Fish In a Barrel…”

    ^^Well you right about that.

    “I’m going to now quote from this email because it’s just too good to pass up.”

    ^^It may be “just too good to pass up” but its lazy blogging.

    When you choose a single, random, historically incorrect, MSNBC viewer’s comments (and not even one from this blog) as a serious reflection of how MSNBC viewers feel about what Comcast/NBC is doing at MSNBC you are “shooting fish in a barrel”.

    MSNBC watchers have a wide range of views on what is shown on the network and to assume all a far left robots is the same as assuming all CNN viewers want to watch only ‘straight news’ or FNC watchers are all far right nutcases who think like Rush.

    How a viewer sees changes in a networks lineup depends on how that viewer watches that network. When a favorite show (or host) is dumped you get upset; but this usually lasts only a few days or weeks and you move on.

    Very few cable newsnet fans actually stop watching their favorite network; unless the network changes its format totally. If MSNBC decides to follow CNN in PT and get out of broadcasting news (either opinion or straight) altogether; then most MSNBC viewers will stay with the network.

    If MSNBC decides to show only “Caught on Camera” and “Lockup” (like HLN does “Forensic Files”) then the progressive viewers will leave; and be replaced by “CoC” and “Lockup” fans – and probably receive higher ratings.

  6. I was upset with The Cycle being cancelled even though it wasn’t a good show. I’ll admit it, I just liked watching Abby Huntsman. But, so far, I’m disappointed with the daytime hours that replaced those three shows. Hopefully Brian Williams takes over in September.

  7. And I watch far less MSNBC than I used to. I used to have MSNBC on all day and night. Amy Robach and Natalie Morales followed by Lester Holt. Keith Olbermann at night. Those were good times.

  8. Well fritz, I don’t think anyone, at this point, thinks anybody tunes into CNN for “straight news”. They’ve become indistinguishable from MSNBC…except for Tapper.

  9. savefarris Says:

    When you choose a single, random, historically incorrect, MSNBC viewer’s comments… as a serious reflection of how MSNBC viewers feel about what Comcast/NBC is doing at MSNBC you are “shooting fish in a barrel”.

    Replace the MSNBC’s in your post with FNC’s and you’ve just stolen Jon Stewart’s bit.

    Spud for The Daily Show Chair!!!


    If Spud had just pulled this off of a comment section somewhere, you’d have a valid point. But this is the email RingofFire CHOSE to highlight. They said it speaks for them. As such, it’s fair game to point out just how out of touch they are both politically and factually.

  10. “”They said it speaks for them.”

    ^^So what. RoF is just another left wing blog. It doesn’t speak for me or most of the MSNBC audience any more than the Daily Caller speaks for you or FNC’s audience. Making fun of a poorly researched protest letter (either to Phil Griffin or Roger Ailes) is easy and really adds nothing to the discussion.

  11. I do not know many people who understand ratings. I read a non-cable news TV Q&A and everyone always asks “but I liked that show, why did they take it off?”

  12. bushleaguer Says:

    I wonder what the author of this e-mail would say if told that when MSNBC was created some of the hosts included Alan Keyes, Michael Savage and Pat Buchanan.

  13. Not to forget that they only news network that hired Ann Coulter was MSNBC.

    These people are clueless about MSNBC.

  14. Grandpa Dave Says:

    “Ring Of Fire” seems more like “Puff of Smoke”.

  15. Honestly, @MSNBC stopped being relevant years ago after the departure of Keith Olbermann and Cenk Uygur.

    I have to agree with original post that the network was not originally intended to be progressive, I mean, how ‘progressive’ was pro-business Micro$oft at the time MS (Micro$oft) and NBC created MSNBC?

    Anyone who consumes truly independent progressive media has left @MSNBC behind years ago. @MSNBC cannot even begin to pretend to be a ‘progressive’ network with the likes of Scarborough and Matthews, as well as the Establishment apologists in most of the other slots throughout the day. Of the remaining folks, the only two I still have a shred of respect for are Maddow and O’Donnell.

    R.I.P. @MSNBC


  16. My wife and I spend $200 on our TWC cable connection primarily to have MSNBC, which has been the case since Geraldo Rivera was the network’s most raging and reigning liberal (his coverage of the O.J. trial introduced America to dozens of erudite African-American legal minds). But it was Keith Olbermann who had faculty (I’m a college professor) whispering in the halls every day (“Did he really say that about Bush, Cheney, and the Iraq ‘debacle’? Can he last for more than a couple of weeks longer on television? Won’t he be summarily shown the door on the grounds of “unpatriotic dissent”?). Yes, it was Olbermann who led the charge against Bush’s war, and some of us will not allow Jeb’s recent defense of his brother, make us forget the enormous waste, arrogance, and ongoing misery that are part of the war’s aftermath.

    But it was also Olbermann, I soon began to realize, who dared not only to mention the previously prohibited “L” word: he went so far as to embrace his stance as a “liberal” and, emboldened by Keith’s example, it was Chris Matthews who eventually followed suit, no longer pretending that he was an “impartial moderate” in political discourse.. Nevertheless, credit Olbermann for restoring to respectability the word that had be off-limits since Reagan’s election.

    It’s not only Olbermann’s departure that has left a void but the recent terminations of Alex Wagner and Ed Schultz. Wagner was the most “natural” of the female announcers on MSNBC. Day after day, night after night she transformed her apparent vulnerability and tiredness (betrayed by the “cracking” sound of her voice) into a triumph of will and energy over the body’s and mind’s inertial. She did not chat and chat on “favorite subjects; she did not perform as an impressive, composed (and a bit theatrical) attractive reader of television news. With her editorial experience and journalistic background, she WAS the news, enacting it before our svery eyes–never at a loss for words, and never wasting time on useless words.

    Ed Schultz was more than the networks’ Union apologist: he was the unlikely “favorite uncle” who, surprise, was not the familiar conservative we’re all too familiar with. He was a liberal, and not afraid to live the role in showdowns with, for example, Larry (the right-wing economist on CNBC).

    Suddenly, the reasons for subscribing to MSNBC are less clear. Chris is entertaining (he senses the need to overcompensate in the company of these young sharks), and Lawrence continues to tell it like it is (while holding back on the “opinions” and “judgments.” Rachel is far from a “must see” on a nightly basis. Same for the other young blades (though Kornacki is obviously a talent–someone who can read the phone directory as Shakespearean–perhaps Hitchcockian–drama.

    Good teams don’t dismiss their talent simply because the team is losing. (If that were the case, the Bengals would have dropped Ken Anderson the year before he led the team to a near-victory in the Super Bowl against Montana and the 49ers). I hope MSNBC functions with the regard for the soldiers who brought them there. (It would be disheartening to see some of these truth-tellers end up like the misunderstood, shabbily treated Geraldo or Dan Rather.)

    Sam Chell

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