Michael Wolff Ponders The “New” MSNBC…

Michael Wolff writes in The Hollywood Reporter writes about MSNBC. Normally I dismiss most of what Wolff writes about cable news but this time I find his arguments resonating with me more than usual…

In effect, the strategy is to put Williams in front of the camera and hope like hell something terrible happens soon and often. This in a way is the essence of cable news management, to be ready to find opportunities in what you can’t control (Don Imus’ scandal-caused demise made way for the happenstance hit Morning Joe), with the success of cable news directors and personalities most often determined by the arc of what happens on their watch.

Hence, “straight” is not really so much a position or a philosophic view but a baseline. You begin as straight, and then an airplane disappears, and weeks and weeks later you are still reporting the story and have turned yourself into weird, obsessional reality television. Or you begin as straight, or straighter, and then Keith Olbermann comes along and remakes the network with his obsessions — until he implodes. Or Bill Clinton is caught up in scandal, and Fox builds the story into a narrative that changes American politics and keeps Fox dominant for a generation.

I disagree on that last sentence. Everyone covered Bill Clinton’s Lewinski mess too much. Olbermann left MSNBC on account of it. It altered cable news forever in as much as how it covers politics and set the stage for how the networks covered the 2000 Florida election crisis.

4 Responses to “Michael Wolff Ponders The “New” MSNBC…”

  1. I tend to agree with Wolff’s premise that more straight news is not the savior of cable news networks. It hasn’t worked since CNN’s golden era in the 1990’s and it’s unlikely to work now.

    I disagree that Williams is great at breaking news coverage. He sounds pompous and trite most of the time and often asks question of reporters that assumes what they are going to say in the question; thus hamstring what they report.

    And Chuck Todd isn’t doing a straight news commentary show. He’s doing a straight ‘political’ news commentary show.

    Still no Steve Kornacki on “UP with Steve Kornacki”. It’s been 5 weeks and now I don’t expect him back on the show anytime soon – maybe never. My guess he’s headed for a daily weekday or night show. We’ll see.

  2. I’m not sure any one is still reading this blog but I’ll post this anyway.

    Both TH and JD-B are now called “MSNBC Live With TM or JD-B. That means that from the end of MJ until Hardball only Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell retain their own shows and formats.

    Everything else is MSNBC Live; either with or without a named host. I guess we’ll find out now if doing straight news in a loop gets MSNBC better dayside ratings. My guess is they go down, not up.

  3. Everything else is MSNBC Live; either with or without a named host. I guess we’ll find out now if doing straight news in a loop gets MSNBC better dayside ratings. My guess is they go down, not up.

    They’ve actually been going up though.

  4. “They’ve actually been going up though.”

    ^^Really. And yet CNN is boasting in their 3Q ratings email that they bested MSNBC, by a wide margin, in all facets of dayside ratings.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: