MSNBC’s Curious Brian Williams Utilization…

Since the Paris attacks, MSNBC has been using Brian Williams a lot but it’s how they’re using him that has me scratching my head.

For starters, I may be wrong on this but I don’t believe he was on either Saturday or Sunday (not sure on the former but I know he wasn’t on the latter). Those two days were the hottest days to have him on the air…especially Saturday. He may have been out of position due to other commitments which would be excusable. Or he may not, which would be inexcusable.

But he was back on Monday and on a lot the rest of the week. But it’s that part that really has me puzzled. His role at the time his return was announced was to be on for breaking news. But a lot of the times I saw him on air this week so far, there was no “breaking news” per se. A pattern started to develop where he’d be on the air for a few minutes at the top of the hour each hour and then the regular anchor for that timeslot would take over. Sometimes he’d make a return appearance during the hour. Sometimes he wouldn’t. Most of the time no news was breaking. Today they moved him out of his news nook in the back of the newsroom and put him in the main anchor desk…I guess for optics reasons. On air the nook looks less prestigious than the main desk).

Now if I’m MSNBC of course I want to use him. He’s got the name recognition and despite his fib-a-thon he still commands some gravitas (though it has been awkwardly painful to watch him toss to Lester Holt in Paris). But by using him MSNBC is bascically undermining the original premise for his being there…covering breaking news. He’s not doing that with most of these appearances. Instead of covering breaking news, he’s covering a story that has a lot of heightened news awareness by the general public. Those are not the same thing. They’re not even kissing cousins.

Not that I ever thought MSNBC would keep Williams around for just breaking news. I knew that the press release stating his assignment was mostly smoke and mirrors to downplay the move and that they’d start working him in as many ways as possible. I’m just making sure everyone sees that’s what’s going on.

8 Responses to “MSNBC’s Curious Brian Williams Utilization…”

  1. I agree Spud. There doesn’t appear to be any pattern in how MSNBC is using Williams. He comes and goes randomly and usually hands off to another host after a short time. It just tells me that the network is in flux at the moment and doesn’t seem to have confidence in any of it’s new hosts.

    My problem with Williams though is not his random scheduling but that he’s just not very good at doing breaking news. His delivery is really irritating: teary eyed at one moment making a joke the next. He also still likes to tell personal antidotes that got him in trouble in the first place and often throws to a reporter by stating what the reporter should be saying in his report. It’s all just too relaxed; not sitting up straight and making the story about him.

  2. […] MSNBC’s puzzling utilization of their ‘breaking […]

  3. I’m sure there is some NBC exec specifically tasked with screwing with Williams to get him to leave for another gig. Why else wouldn’t you have him front and center?

  4. Chris Jansing is doing the ‘Breaking News’ coverage of the attack in Mali, from Paris, this morning. No sign of Brian Williams, although there may be a good reason for his absence.

    Jansing is the best ‘Breaking News’ host NBC has so it’s no surprise she’s in the chair; but it does make me ask what’s going on. After all isn’t she the ‘Chief White house Correspondent? Why is she in Paris and not covering Obama as that would appear to be her main job.

  5. Brian and Kate are pretty much co-anchoring 3pm-5pm.

  6. I turned over to MSNBC on Friday evening and saw Williams. I couldn’t watch very long. I was back switching between Fox News and CNN. Contrast that with Sunday evening when I was glued to MSNBC. Harry Smith and Chris Jansing co-anchored together and it was one of the most informative hours I have seen on cable news in a long time.

  7. I can’t imagine Williams is very happy having to share the coverage of the Paris attack with Jansing. The contrast in talent between the two is pretty striking.

  8. Glen Greenwald called out CNN yesterday on Reliable Sources for it’s double standard in how it treats reporters/hosts editorializing on the network. He made a lot of sense and Brian Stelter looked pretty embarrassed as he tried, unsuccessfully, to defend the network.

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