Archive for the MSNBC Category

Someone Screwed Themselves in the Tamron Hall/NBC Breakup. But who?

Posted in MSNBC on February 2, 2017 by icn2

Nothing about Tamron Hall leaving NBC makes any sense for either side in this drama. Usually when there’s a breakup there’s a winner and a loser. But in this case there are no winners. There are only losers.

For NBC, losing Hall is not just optically bad, it is substantively bad. It would not be an understatement to argue that NBC had invested a lot in her. It elevated her profile across multiple platforms.

Hall’s duties included the following…

– Today’s Take
– Anchoring MSNBC’s 11am hour
– Subbing on Today
– Subbing on NBC Nightly News
– Hosting Dateline Crime on I.D.
– Hosting Dateline Extra on MSNBC
– Hosting the Westminster Dog Show TV coverage on NBCU’s networks

Hall was NBC’s highest profile female African American talent and NBC made extensive use of her. It was in NBC’s interest to keep her with the network given all the investment the network had made in broadening her profile across NBCU. Losing her would open up the network to all kinds diversity based criticisms. The downside far outweighed the upside if NBC let her walk and the network had to have known this.

For Hall, walking away from NBC was an extremely risky maneuver for one simple reason. The likelihood that she could land elsewhere with anywhere close to the same profile and salary she would have gotten by staying at NBC were very low. It’s not a question of “is she worth it?”. It’s a question of “where’s the space and need available at any other network to make it happen?”

Do not underestimate the significance of this question. Consider:

– At ABC, GMA is full. Yes, it’s not killing Today like it was a couple of years ago but the network just reloaded on talent and format changes so it was unlikely to blow that up at this stage. The rest of ABC’s news properties are pretty well set for the long term. There isn’t much need for Hall at ABC.

– At CBS, the same story. Gayle King just re-upped on CBS This Morning and given that show’s upward trajectory there would be little motivation to upset that apple cart. Oprah just signed on with 60 Minutes. While there have been rumors of changes coming on the CBS Evening News, it would be extremely unlikely that CBS, having been burned rotten by the Katie Couric experiment, would take a flier on her. There isn’t much need for Hall at CBS.

– CNN is a little more interesting but equally unlikely. In the immediate aftermath of Carol Costello’s exit to HLN, I could have seen Hall slip in to that slot. But that ship is long gone from port now and to bring Hall in to the network at this point, while not impossible, is certainly less likely than it would have been prior to CNN’s rejiggered dayside lineup announcement.

There are still potential spots in CNN’s dayside to plug Hall into. Inside Politics and Wolf Blitzer’s first hour would be the most obvious shifts. But that means Blitzer and/or King would be displaced. Blitzer still has The Situation Room and he’s been made to give up time on that show in the past. But it would mean the second time King would lose his show and that would be a bitter pill to swallow indeed.

More to the point, there is nothing CNN could offer Hall that would match what she was currently enjoying with NBC. NBC had her all over the place. At CNN, she would be just another face in a very large crowd. To elevate her profile beyond that would put too many network veterans’ noses out of joint.

– FNC? News anchors are not the draw there…they’re interchangeable cogs. It’s the opinion people who rule the roost. Even if the network had the desire or the room to accommodate Hall, both of which I would find highly implausible, the top dog at FNC’s news is Shepard Smith and his profile has shrunk from what it was six years ago. Hall would be taking a considerable profile hit, compared to what she enjoyed at NBC, if she came to FNC.

From my vantage point Hall’s best option was to remain at NBC.

This is what makes what happened yesterday so unfathomable. It was in both parties’ interest for Hall to stay with NBC. That it didn’t happen suggests someone screwed themselves somehow.

But the question of who sabotaged any prospective deal remains a mystery. There’s been some (NBC based) leakage in the press; no doubt to put a favorable spin and try to mitigate any Ann Curry like fallout from taking place…with Megyn Kelly undeservedly playing the role of Matt Lauer. The gist of the leaks was NBC was willing to throw a lot of money Hall’s way and expand her profile on Today to compensate for Today’s Take going away.

The leaks don’t flat out say it but the impression that’s left hanging in the air is that Hall’s camp screwed this up somehow. There’s been nothing so far from Hall’s camp to refute this but I would not automatically assume that lack of response means there’s truth to the charge. They could just be taking the high road knowing that they need to find someplace new now and any public spat would be counterproductive to that end goal.

The last thing Megyn Kelly needed was more pressure. Well now she’s got more pressure. It’s not fair to view it this way but a lot of people are going to be view it this way:

Megyn Kelly pushed Tamron Hall out of NBC.

In my opinion, to make that claim is stupid. Megyn Kelly had nothing to do with Hall and NBC separating. NBC hired Kelly not knowing where she would go, though the smart money immediately moved to the 9 or 10 am hours. Let’s be clear here; NBC is the reason Today’s Take got cancelled, not Tamron Hall and not Megyn Kelly. If NBC didn’t view Today’s Take as weak it wouldn’t have pushed Willie Geist and Natalie Morales out and Billy Bush in. If NBC didn’t view Today’s Take as weak it wouldn’t have reversed itself and thrown Bush under the bus after the Trump video came out. If NBC didn’t view Today’s Take as weak it wouldn’t have considered it as the more expendable of the two shows after Today (the other being the Hoda Kotb/Kathie Lee hour) if the network wanted to find a place for Kelly’s show. Kelly had nothing to do with any of this.

A does not beget B. Megyn Kelly’s arrival does not mean Tamron Hall’s departure. Whatever broke down in the negotiations between Hall and NBC caused Hall’s departure. It was a departure that nobody should have wanted. Both sides lost.

Tamron Hall Exits (MS)NBC

Posted in MSNBC on February 1, 2017 by icn2

CNN’s Brian Stelter writes about Tamron Hall’s abrupt departure…something everyone would have found impossible to contemplate a month ago.

Tamron Hall, a regular host on NBC’s “Today” show and MSNBC, is leaving the network later this month.

Her departure was announced on Wednesday after days of contentious contract negotiations.

Hall had been the co-host of the 9 a.m. hour of the “Today” show and a daytime anchor on MSNBC. Last week executives informed Hall and the “Today” staff that the 9 a.m. hour was being canceled to make room for a new program led by former Fox News host Megyn Kelly.

Hall won’t have a chance to say goodbye on the air. “Yesterday was her last day as an anchor on both networks,” NBC said in a statement. “Tamron is an exceptional journalist, we valued and enjoyed her work at ‘Today’ and MSNBC and hoped that she would decide to stay. We are disappointed that she has chosen to leave, but we wish her all the best.”

Too bad this happened today and not last week. Then Hall might have immediately wound up over at CNN’s dayside operation (provided no non-compete was at play). But with CNN’s roster now set for the moment, Hall would be frozen out. Of course Jeff Zucker could just as easily blow that up to make room for Hall if he wanted her bad enough.

I really don’t see where Hall would land at this point. GMA has too many people. Gayle King just signed a big extension for CBS This Morning. What’s left?

MSNBC Changes…

Posted in MSNBC on January 18, 2017 by icn2

TVNewser’s Chris Ariens writes about changes to MSNBC and how some of NBC News’ staff is being redeployed…

Hallie Jackson, who covered Donald Trump’s campaign for NBC News, has been named White House correspondent for the network. Meanwhile, MSNBC correspondent Kasie Hunt has been named Capitol Hill correspondent. Katy Tur, who had covered Trump’s campaign from day one, will remain in New York and will anchor MSNBC’s 2 p.m. ET hour during Trump’s first 100 days.

Left out of this was the fact that Jackson will continue to anchor MSNBC at 10am, which she confirmed via Twitter.

I was actually surprised by this news. I expected Tur to get the White House gig but maybe she didn’t want it after all the crap she had to deal with covering Trump during the election. Jackson getting the gig AND keeping 10am is both noteworthy and not novel. It’s noteworthy because it puts her on the “NBC grooming train” for a bigger role at some point down the line. It isn’t novel because both Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie had similar roles for a couple of years. One difference however is that Todd and Guthrie had the 9am slot and not the 10 which one would think is the better slot to have from a logistical standpoint if you’re going to have both roles but evidently NBC thinks it can still work with one hour less separating the two duties.

It’s also interesting that MSNBC would not fully commit to Tur full time. The press release says it’s for at least the first 100 days and maybe that’s just bet hedging and she will probably stay on. But from an optics standpoint it’s not much of an endorsement.

Selective Memory…

Posted in MSNBC on January 18, 2017 by icn2

I was going to comment on this Joe Concha article in The Hill on Tucker Carlson’s ratings rise and the (predictable) comparative ratings decline Greta Van Susteren has had to contend with on MSNBC since she started but Concha referenced this ridiculous Daily Kos column which was basically tossing a giant hunk of red meat on my empty plate.

Sorry Joe…but thanks for the meal.

Anyway, the Kos article makes an all too predictable appeal for Joy Reid instead of Van Susteren. Nothing noteworthy about that…in fact it’s expected a left wing site would clamor for a left wing host over a host whose actual ideology and affiliations are far less predictable to pin down (sometimes maddeningly so). No, it’s the justification for why Reid should have gotten the slot that deserves strict scrutiny…

She’s also given MSNBC some of their highest numbers in over a decade:

Airing on the weekends from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., AM Joy delivered the time period’s biggest total viewer audience since the 1st quarter of 2003 and biggest A25-54 audience since Q4 2012.

Despite a crushing election, this nation leans left. Trump was beaten in the popular vote by 3 million votes, and Democrats won the majority of votes in the Senate and House as well. If ratings were based on arcane rules or gerrymandering like our national elections, then yes, MSNBC’s strategy would make sense. But they aren’t. Ratings are actually based on popular opinion. There is a huge market for the American progressive audience—one, I might add, that is not currently being filled.

Reality check #1: That’s weekend mornings. Weekend morning ratings on MSNBC are miniscule compared to what early prime and primetime deliver. If Reid’s show had knocked CNN out of second, the article’s argument would turn from a plaintive plea to real substance. But that has not happened.

Reality check #2: MSNBC already tried Reid on weekdays and the jury came back with a death sentence. It got cancelled and one of the reasons was poor ratings. Reid’s show was part of that idealogical block experiment MSNBC tried which dragged down all of dayside. MSNBC would be insane to try that again barring some new development and as I already pointed out statistical improvement in the 10-12 hour on weekends that does not dislodge CNN isn’t enough of a persuader.

It’s way too early to render a judgement on Van Susteren’s show. It is silly to argue MSNBC made the wrong call at this point but it’s preposterous to argue that what Reid has done on weekends justifies MSNBC bringing her back to weekdays at this point.

NBC’s Megyn Kelly Gambit…

Posted in FNC, MSNBC on January 3, 2017 by icn2

Variety’s Brian Steinberg lists some of the potential pitfalls facing NBC and its soon to be newest employee…

And yet, Kelly’s current halo does not necessarily mean she can also triumph over splintered broadcast-TV audiences and tired formats. Those are hurdles she and NBC will have to leap over in the months to come.

NBC said it intends to place Kelly in a new Monday-through-Friday daytime hour set to launch sometime over the coming year. To accomplish that feat, NBC would have to either take time from the four hours it already devotes to its “Today” morning franchise, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars in ad revenue; negotiate with affiliates for strong placement of a syndicated hour; or test something in the early evening, where it distributes “Access Hollywood.” Meanwhile, a Sunday newsmagazine would likely run for a limited cycle, as the network already devotes a good portion of its Sunday lineup to “Sunday Night Football,” one of TV’s most-watched programs.

But this is the biggest one in my opinion…

Launching a new, sustainable newsmagazine has also been tricky in recent years, as NBC learned when it debuted “Rock Center” with Brian Williams in 2011. That effort also lasted two seasons before being cancelled due to low ratings. NBC more recently tried “On Assignment,” an effort produced by its “Dateline” staff that relies more heavily on stories of adventure and innovation that on the murder tales viewers have come to expect from the parent show.

“In recent years”?!?

NBC has a long and distinguished history of failed attempts at news magazine shows. Even Dateline originally debuted in a vastly different form than it has today.

Left untouched in this article are two very interesting subjects…

1. Why was MSNBC conspicuously absent from any mention? I can think of two reasons and their initials are BW and RM. Say what you will about the decision but MSNBC has deliberately positioned the network as the home of Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow. Bringing in Megyn Kelly, even if she had the bandwidth to take on the assignment (something I seriously doubt given the daytime show), would totally upset that apple cart.

2. The pecking order on Nightly News – This is not an issue in the near to mid-term. Lester Holt isn’t going anywhere for at least five years provided ratings hold. But his successor is now going to be a little more of an open question than it was yesterday. The conventional wisdom was Savannah Guthrie would succeed Holt, provided NBC was comfortable with losing her on the from more financially lucrative Today Show in a post Matt Lauer era. But add in Kelly to the mix and the equation could potentially change…provided NBC’s gambit on Kelly pays off…and that is anything but guaranteed.

I always thought that of the three broadcast networks CBS was the best choice for Kelly, followed by NBC. ABC seems pretty set for the next decade and beyond with David Muir.

Greta Van Susteren to MSNBC?

Posted in MSNBC on December 28, 2016 by icn2

The Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein is hearing things

After all that hullaballoo over at FNC, Greta Van Susteren is making a quick and sudden return to cable news. According to Mirror sources, she’s getting a 6 p.m. time slot on MSNBC.

Van Susteren at MSNBC: Good fit or bad fit?

MSNBC is Test Driving Mark Halperin

Posted in MSNBC on December 20, 2016 by icn2

MSNBC has been using Mark Halperin on First Look so far this week.

…I stop to let the shock wear off…

…ok, enough time…

It’s not just that they’ve been using a political journalist in a straight news anchor role…but they’ve tailored the show to him to some extent. It comes off as more of a segue into Morning Joe, where Halperin can be usually found hanging around like a Vulture next to a dead carcass, than it did last week. Mike Barnicle doing sports. Mark talking to Joe in the minutes before his show airs. And, get this…today they paired Chris Jansing with him and they had him both introduce her and say goodbye for her.

Now, here’s an 18 year vet of MSNBC/NBC news who has been just about everywhere and done just about everything for the network(s) and you have newbie non-contracted Halperin doing her introduction and sign off; the ultimate bigfooting. How embarrassing for her.

Good Morning America, I’m David Hartman along with Joan Lunden…

Yeah…it’s that embarrassing.

It’s well known Phil Griffin has a thing for the H-Team; Halperin and Heilemann, so With All Due Respect gone from Bloomberg’s lineup and 6pm now burning a hole in MSNBC’s schedule, expect to see these guys a lot more on MSNBC’s air.

Just not for regular newscasts. Please.