The MSNBC Conundrum…

In a semi must read article that clearly takes sides and doubles as an Andy Lack hit piece, The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim writes about MSNBC’s ratings rise and how that is allegedly making life difficult for one person at NBC…

But from inside, the news about Wallace and Hewitt was seen as just two more steps toward the full execution of the vision of Andy Lack, the NBC News executive who oversees MSNBC. He has made quite clear his plan to move the cable news network away from its bedrock liberalism and toward a more centrist approach personified by Brian Williams — even including hosts of a conservative bent, as typified by hosts like Megyn Kelly or Greta Van Susteren, who Lack brought over from Fox News.

But Lack, in seeking to make this vision a reality, has an unusual problem for a TV executive: sky-high ratings. Since the election of Trump, MSNBC’s liberal primetime programs hosted by Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell have surged not just in ratings but in the share of the cable news audience they’re capturing. In its earnings call on Thursday, NBCUniversal specifically cited the boost in ratings to “The Rachel Maddow Show” for a spike in profits. Maddow has been the top show on cable news in the key demographic for two months running, an inconceivable achievement at MSNBC.

Tossing those primetime hosts overboard while they’re raking in viewership and revenue has so far proved an elusive task.

“Hayes, Maddow, O’Donnell ― the entire primetime lineup is doing record numbers and Lack can’t stand it. It makes him furious,” said one senior MSNBC source, echoing the sentiment of many other insiders who spoke to HuffPost only on the condition of anonymity. (An NBC spokesman said Lack is happy with the high ratings.)


17 Responses to “The MSNBC Conundrum…”

  1. Really Hewitt? Why not Charlie Sykes? At least he has some common sense! Hewitt… won’t be watching him! What is Lack thinking? Taking on Fox people is already hard enough to swallow. Geez, our country is being destroyed and now you’re ruining MSNBC😏

  2. So MSNBC’s prime time lineup is providing record ratings and the head of the network “can’t stand it?”
    I don’t care what Lack envisions for prime time….there is no way he would be driven crazy over record ratings. That just doesn’t make sense given the boost in ad revenue and so forth.

  3. spdavid Says:

    What matters is what the suits at Comcast think about ratings and since what they really care about os revenue and ratings leads to at least the possibility of more revenue they will like this.

  4. Bringing in Fox anchors is not a shift to center, it’s a shift to the right. And the right keeps moving right every time “liberals” pivot to the “center.” MSNBC/NBC has been increasingly adding more conservative voices since the beginning of Trump’s campaign. Invariably there will be Republican figures at every discussion when no Democrat is present. MSNBC is the only “liberal” presence on TV now, so to mess with Rachel, Joy, Chris and Lawrence is to invite a full-on boycott of the whole network. Lack is only making CNN look even more centrist and pushing viewers over to it.

  5. Brad is exactly right. TEA Party conservatives are considered moderates now. And we just elected Donald Trump, who really was a parody of a right wing candidate.

    I’ll turn on CNN if MSNBC goes hard right.

  6. Lack needs to be removed not O’Donnell

  7. This long story is mostly a rehash of past MSNBC hosting shifts but there are a couple of tidbits worth discussing. The big news I hadn’t seen before was the Hugh Hewitt negotiations and the linked New York Magazine story was the really interesting one for me and well worth its own discussion.

    Hewitt is a an accomplished performer on conservative talk radio but it would be a ratings disaster for him to become a host on MSNBC. Hewitt is a policy wonk with a penchant for obscure far right wing conspiracy theories. He also has a couple of odd facial tics that make it difficult to see him as a host on any cable news network – even FNC.

    Lack seems to have a thing for older white conservative hosts with hosting handicaps. Williams history of tall tales and his predisposition for weird analogies is well known. Van Susteren is so focused on being fare and showing both sides of ever issue that she often appears just nutty. But to be fare to Lack, Wallace, Tur and Ruhle are a good hosting choices that he has made recently.

    Another hosting question is what to do with Joe and Mika now that they will be married. The last time this was tried at MSNBC it was “Weekends with Murray & Connie” and we all remember how that went. It’s only a matter of time before these two giant egos clash and how do you deal with the fallout from that battle? Theat SNL lampoon wasn’t actually as much a parody as a documentary short.

  8. Andy Lack wants to turn MSNBC into a conservative network at a time where Americans hate this historically bad president and congress. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

    Hugh Hewitt would not just be a ratings disaster for whatever his timeslot is, but he’d take down the rest of MSNBC as well.

  9. Why is anybody surprised at the continuing Foxification of MSNBC since conservative Comcast purchased network? They’d rather have non-thinking loyal #TraitorTrump acolytes than intelligent, discerning viewers and they assume the Fox ratings will follow.

    Next watch for the gradual trend toward Fox-like fake news on MSNBC with Hugh Hewitt leading the he said/he said obfuscation charge and more moderate conservatives like Morning Joe, Andrea Mitchell, Greta Van Susteren and Nicole Wallace filling airtime taking his nonsense under serious consideration.

  10. imnotblue Says:

    The outrage and demand for a “safe space / echo chamber” in this thread is pretty funny.

  11. It’s hard enough to find – apart from televised comedians like Bill Maher, Colbert, Stewart et al – a strong liberal viewpoint and take on our radical right government. And now MSNBC leadership apparently wants to purge the strong liberal commentariat from MSNBC despite record-setting ratings?

    Evidently the constant conservative complaint about a so-called ‘liberal media’ continues to intimidate mainstream fact based media operations. America just keeps dumbing down, and it’s largely associated with the ascension of the media establishment.

  12. I hate to interrupt with some reality…..but MSNBC just won its first demo week in 7 years……LO show isn’t a hit…..NEVER has been…….Its been wining for less than a month and a half…….Im sure its won a day here and there before…but to call it a rating powerhouse seem like more than just wishful thinking……..a powerhouse would to have least win a rating QT wouldn’t it? LO show NEVER has that Ive seen….I know he lost this years 1 QT.

  13. imnotblue Says:



    They’re having fun. Don’t ruin it for them.

  14. “Gax…
    They’re having fun. Don’t ruin it for them.”

    ^^Well after ten years of having all the accusations of sexual harassment, racial discrimination and propagating fake news at FNC finally proved correct; and having heard nothing but a gloating “look how good our ratings are ” as every FNC fanboy’s justification for all the scandals at the network, you’ll have to forgive us if we’re not quite ready to accept your latest excuse for the decline of Fox News – that ratings don’t really matter anymore. Maybe things will change in the future but for now I’d wouldn’t be quite so smug about FNC’s future.

  15. The only reason I still have cable is for viewing MSNBC. The infiltration of Republicans and FNC people at MSNBC is reaching my breaking point. I’d rather watch Nature programs on Public television.

  16. imnotblue Says:

    I know what toy mean, Rolie.

    I hate seeing/hearing opinions I don’t inherently agree with too.


  17. Well he would probably get more facts from nature programs than most of MSNBC prime time lineup.

    /sarc……… I think

    This Russia stuff is MSNBC’s……CNN lost plane story…….if there is really something their……..they continue to win……..if not welcome back to third place……….most days they still cant get the most viewers…….yes prime time is wining the demo but its all dependent on their being something to the Russia story…..which so far both sides seem to agree they haven’t found anything like a smoking gun yet in a 11 month investigation.

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