Archive for the MSNBC Category

Cable News Is Broken…

Posted in CNN, FNC, MSNBC on August 11, 2017 by icn2

The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi writes about what has turned me off of cable news…

Last year was a busy one for Hank Bargine, a freelance TV-news cameraman based in Colorado. The networks kept calling as the presidential candidates crisscrossed the country on the campaign trail. Bargine worked and traveled constantly, shooting rallies and other political events.

Now? Things are as slow as Bargine can remember in his 20 years as a news photographer. Bargine estimates he’s worked about 20 percent as much as he did last year. And he has no doubt what, or who, is responsible. “The Trump factor,” he calls it.

As in: The cable networks, in particular, have devoted so much time and attention to President Trump in his first six months in office that they have little time or interest in covering much else. Cable news has been so packed with Trump — wherever he might be, whatever’s he’s doing — that stories far afield from Washington don’t make the cut.

The current Trump-centric focus is an extension of the 2016 campaign, when the cable networks drew criticism for devoting disproportionate amounts of airtime to Trump, the candidate, at the expense of his political rivals. The networks — addicted to the improved ratings that all things Trump brought their way — seemingly couldn’t help themselves. “These are very good times for us, and the money is following,” CNN President Jeff Zucker said in February.

If anything, 2017 has been more of the same — much more.

I’ll say.

There’s been a direct 1:1 correlation between the lack of output I have lacked to put out on this blog since the beginning of 2016 and the decrepit state of cable news.

Unlike Mediaite, TVNewser, and just about everyone else in media writing who has kept up with covering cable news and its incessant obsession over every Trump detail, be they pro or con, taken to absurd levels of scrutiny, I am completely apathetic about the whole thing.

To devote time to the latest Hannity ass kissing of Trump or the Joe and Mia fight or Tucker Carlson, Eric Bolling, and Jesse Watters’ hystrionics or CNN’s endless panels of too many people (many of which shouldn’t be there to begin with) on Trump news or MSNBC’s A, B, C, D, and E Trump centric blocks and squeezing six people on the screen all the time (even though only one is talking at any given time)…

…to write about cable news and its off kilter, out of proportion everything Trump does is news mantra and to do so with a straight face as too many of my colleagues have is to give legitimacy to something I find inherently illegitimate.

So that’s why I haven’t been blogging much. When you restrict your attention to areas cable news isn’t paying much attention to anymore, you don’t have a lot to write about.

Not that I expect others to follow suit. Ad dollars are at risk. I don’t make money doing this so I can afford to go take a powder purely on principle. Mediaite can’t. TVNewser can’t.

But just because I refuse to play ball and treat cable news’ lack of self-restraint and piss poor journalistic judgement as “the new normal” doesn’t mean I can sit by and watch cable news presidents take victory laps for said bad behavior…

“We’re reflecting the biggest story of our lifetime,” said Zucker in an interview on Thursday.

No on two counts. You aren’t reflecting the biggest story of our lifetime…you are unabashedly chasing ratings in a niche area in lieu of a global journalism approach. And this isn’t the biggest story of our lifetime.

But cable’s reliance on Trump is as much a programming strategy as a reflection of the news of the moment. Zucker acknowledges that the audience’s response to all the Trump news on cable validates the approach. Only a few years ago, “writers wrote that cable news was irrelevant, that it was being overtaken by the Internet,” he said. “The fact is, cable news has never been more relevant or more successful than it has been for the last two years.”

First of all few were writing that cable news was irrelevant and being overtaken by the internet because it simply wasn’t the case. It was the case for the broadcast networks nightly news shows but that story has been written and re-written going on for a decade now. Most were writing that print journalism was irrelevant and that it was being overtaken by the internet. That one may still bear out.

Cable news is more successful…I’ll give Zucker that. But that is not saying much either. I can make cable news very successful if I had my anchors all go topless. Doesn’t mean I should.

But cable news itself has never been more irrelevant than it is now for everyone but ideologues and political junkies. It is broken. People tune in not because they get informed…no they find the news faster via the internet…People tune in because they want their bubble-ish world views affirmed and for the entertainment factor of watching two sides disagree with each other.

People want to hear over and over again how bad Trump is doing on MSNBC and CNN. They want to hear about the latest dysfunction in the most dysfunctional White House of all time. They want the mindless endless speculation and prognostication from the know nothing cookie cutter paint by numbers panels that appear incessantly like penguins lining up to jump off an ice flow.

People want to hear over and over again about why Trump is getting a raw deal on FNC. They want the Hannity ass kissing, the Tucker Carlson elitist smugness, and the Fox and Friends brown nosing. They want to hear about Seth Rich. They want to know about the latest threat and outrage from the now impotent Hillary Clinton. They tune into a network full of fake news journalists to hear people scream about fake news. They tune in to watch mindless conservative pundit-toids beat up on feckless liberal zombies incapable of independent thought.

How is journalism served by any of this?

It’s not. And no amount of chest beating and self-crowing by Jeff Zucker is going to change that…not to mention this bit of self-serving banality from Phil Griffin…

“We try to squeeze in major stories that need to be told,” MSNBC President Phil Griffin said Thursday, “but there is one story that is dominating.” Besides, he adds, “We don’t want to do 20 stories with drive-by reporting. [Cable news] is much better when it picks a few and goes deep, looking at it from all sides.”

Or, in MSNBC’s case, picks one with a few variations on the one, and drones on about it ad nauseam.

There is one story that is dominating because you decided to make it dominate. This self-fulfilling prophecy that is the Trump phenomenon has always been a media generated issue. The supply has always come before the demand.

Most of the White House’s daily briefings have been devoid of real news value and yet cable news has covered them live far more times in the past six months than ever before in a similar timeframe. Not for the news. For the entertainment value.

Journalism works best when it presents as much of the news as possible and lets the reader/viewer digest the whole picture. It fails miserably when it cuts back on story count in order to pursue one lucrative but narrow demographic.

I haven’t seen cable news lose itself this badly and fail the viewer so utterly since the Florida recount. In that case, as with this one, cable news took a legitimate story of national import and perverted the hell out of it, losing all perspective and judgement while turning it into a spectacle designed to entertain rather than meaningfully inform.

For 40 something days we were inundated with images and words that we have since long forgotten.

We are due for at least another three and a half years of off kilter Trump coverage on all three cable news networks. Have a nice day…

July Numbers: MSNBC…

Posted in MSNBC, Ratings Related on July 31, 2017 by icn2

MSNBC is noting its July ratings…

MSNBC WINS A25-54 IN WEEKDAY PRIME IN JULY

MSNBC Dayside Leads CNN in Every Hour Among Total Viewers; Scores 2nd Highest Rated Month Ever in Total Viewers

MSNBC Weekday Prime Ranks #2 Across All Cable Networks in Total Viewers; Draws More Audience Than HGTV, History and TBS

“The Rachel Maddow Show” is the #1 Show for All Cable News in A25-54, A18-49 and Total Viewers

“Morning Joe” Bests CNN in A25-54 and A18-49 for the 2nd Straight Month and in Total Viewers for the 29th Straight Month

“The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” Tops FOX News and CNN in A18-49 and Total Viewers at 11pm for the 3rd Consecutive Month

More People Watch MSNBC Than CNN for Every Single Hour Weekdays from 6am Through 2am
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Greta Van Susteren out at MSNBC…Ari Melber In at 6pm.

Posted in MSNBC on June 29, 2017 by icn2

Well that was insanely fast…like itchy trigger finger insanely fast. I’m not sure that wasn’t a premature move on some level. Short of cratering outright, which Van Susteren’s show didn’t do, it’s hard to kill off a show after only six months.

But, what’s done is done. TVNewser’s Chris Ariens writes that Ari Melber will be taking over the 6pm slot.

June Numbers: MSNBC…

Posted in MSNBC, Ratings Related on June 27, 2017 by icn2

MSNBC is noting its June ratings…

MSNBC Weekday Prime Tops FOX News and CNN in A18-49 for the 2nd Straight Month in June 2017

· MSNBC Weekday Prime Also Beats CNN in A25-54 and Total Viewers
· More People Turn To MSNBC Than CNN for the 4th Consecutive Month in Total Day
· “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wins June as the #1 Show Across All Cable News in A18-49, A25-54 and Total Viewers at 9pm
· MSNBC Dayside Posts Best Total Viewer Delivery Ever in Time Period and Improves Cable Network Ranking from #10 to #4 in Total Viewers, and Delivers Best A25-54 Since Nov. 2012
· Morning Joe Outpaces Third-Place CNN in A18-49, A25-54 and Total Viewers – Marking the Show’s 28th Straight Month Over CNN in Total Viewers
· “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” is #1 in A18-49 at 10pm for 2nd Month in a Row
· “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” is #1 in Both A18-49 and Total Viewers at 11pm
· Four Other MSNBC Shows Beat CNN in Total Viewers: Weekdays at 9am, 7pm, 8pm and Saturdays at 10am

NOTE: June to-date ratings are based on Nielsen Live+Same data day for 5/29/17-6/25/17. Individual show data represents regular programming only, excluding specials and breaking news.
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Hugh Hewitt Gets MSNBC Weekend Half hour…

Posted in MSNBC on June 22, 2017 by icn2

TVNewser’s Chris Ariens reports that Hugh Hewitt will be getting a half hour show on early weekend mornings.

As part of the expansion, conservative radio talk show host and MSNBC contributor Hugh Hewitt is getting a half hour show, airing Saturdays at 8 a.m. ET. In addition, Thomas Roberts will anchor two hours in the evening both weekend nights.

Cue the delusional howls of “MSNBC is abandoning the Left” in 3, 2, 1…

It’s hardly prime timeslot placement and it’s only a half hour. Not exactly a full throated embrace of Hewitt. But it does give the network the ability to point more at balance than say FNC can. And before the J$ brigade storms this blog in protest, I ask you to name me one show, just one show, that is fronted on FNC by a prominent liberal equal to Hewitt’s prominence on the Right.

MSNBC’s Status…

Posted in MSNBC on May 30, 2017 by icn2

Variety’s Brian Steinberg has a conveniently well timed profile of MSNBC. But I’m going to focus on the less PR friendly parts…

Some think the rejiggering may alter perceptions of MSNBC as a “liberal” network that’s only for blue states. “It seems to have moved a bit more to the center,” says Thomas O’Guinn, a professor of marketing at University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies the way TV viewing affects consumer beliefs. He acknowledges the network “has still signaled, in lower decibel levels and insult levels, that it is still the voice of the loyal opposition.”

MSNBC needs to do more to stay even with its competitors. It has brought in significantly less advertising revenue than Fox News or CNN, according to SNL Kagan, a market-research firm that is part of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Kagan projects Fox News will snare $912.6 million in ad revenue in 2017, while CNN will collect $427.4 million. But MSNBC is seen winning $267.8 million.

And rivals have grown the money they get from cable and satellite distributors faster than MSNBC. Kagan projects the monthly fee Fox News collects per subscriber will rise 24% between 2015 and 2017, to $1.55. CNN’s is seen increasing 19.7%, to 79 cents. But MSNBC’s is expected to rise just 4%, to 26 cents per subscriber, according to Kagan.

The MSNBC Conundrum…

Posted in MSNBC on May 15, 2017 by icn2

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.)