Ed Driscoll

Breaking News? 'We're Not the Place for That,' Declares MSNBC President


“Since practically its inception, NewsBusters has been informing readers that MSNBC is not a news network,” Noel Sheppard writes. Happily for all concerned, Phil Griffin, the president of the low-rated cable network has now confirmed that observation:

In an article to be published in Monday’s New York Times, national media reporter Bill Carter actually asked if MSNBC is “being damaged by a perception that it is not really a news channel anymore.”

Indeed. That’s what we’ve been saying for years.

After sharing some of the horrible ratings numbers for MSNBC in recent months, Carter spoke to network president Phil Griffin about why viewers seem to turn away from his channel when serious news items break.

“We’re not the place for that,” said Phil Griffin. “Our brand is not that.”

Carter agreed writing, “The brand, one MSNBC has cultivated with success, is defined by its tagline, ‘The Place for Politics,’ and a skew toward left-wing, progressive political talk, the opposite of the conservative-based approach that has worked well for Fox News.”

But that really doesn’t make sense, does it? The tagline should be “The Place for Perilously Liberal Politics.”

Case in point: Fox News viewership increased during the “breaking news” heavy months of April and May that included the Boston marathon bombings, the explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, and all the tornadoes in recent weeks.

As such, isn’t it possible that viewers don’t notice the political leaning of Fox News as much as they do that of MSNBC?

This is particularly likely given how many liberal contributors and guests Fox has compared to practically no conservatives at MSNBC save Joe Scarborough and S.E. Cupp.

And in a classic case of MSM Stockholm Syndrome, Scarborough has worked overtime to alienate any real conservatives or Republicans who might be tuning in, rather than risk further angry emails to his show from the Obama White House. Which is one reason why, as John Nolte writes today, the Fox 3AM Red Eye broadcast beats MSNBC’s Morning Joe in the key 25-54 year old ratings demographic. John links to a post by Salon’s Alex Pareene, who notes:

“Morning Joe” is the lowest rated of the big three cable news morning shows in both total viewers and the younger demographic. Fox News’ Red Eye — a show Fox airs at 3 in the morning — had more total and 25-54-year-old viewers in April 2013 than “Morning Joe” did. “Morning Joe” in April 2013 was down, from its April 2012 numbers, in total and in young viewers by a greater percentage than the rest of the network as a whole.

I’m not harping on “Morning Joe” because I think the show is representative of everything wrong with contemporary political elite thinking, though it is, but because it illustrates MSNBC’s larger problem: It’s a political talk show. Every other TV morning show is mostly fluff and weather. “Morning Joe,” instead of entertainment news updates, has a former member of Congress wave a newspaper at Mark Halperin for a while. MSNBC’s target audience may just be much less interested in listening to people talk about politics in spring 2013 than they were during an election year.

Gee, low-information leftwing Obama boosters who aren’t interested in politics during the off-year? Whodathunkit! Beyond that though, Ace stumbles onto the real cause of the MSNBC’s ratings decline. They’re only interested in scandals from the right; the network considers any bad news regarding the left is non-news by its very nature:

Call this vindication for Mediaite’s Noah Rothman, who suggested the reason for MSNBC’s fall is its partisan determination to tell its liberal viewers that there is no news — no news of scandals — when there manifestly is news.

I had observed:

Because of the Full Partisan Tilt of MSNBC, the alleged “news” network must tell its customers, night after night, that there stockrooms are bare, and they have nothing at all to vend.I remember this happening with Keith Olbermann on, I think, MSNBC. I think that was his first time he got fired from the network, but don’t hold me to that; I can never keep his firings straight. For that matter, neither can he.

Point is, he was a hardcore liberal partisan (of course), and his show debuted during or just before the Clinton Impeachment story.

And night after night… Keith Olbermann basically told people there was no story.

Same story, every night, that there was no story at all.

That didn’t exactly light up the ratings.

And as if on cue to confirm Ace’s observation, rather than yelling “Food fight!!!!” and milking the Beltway controversy for all it’s worth, Scarborough’s lefty sidekick Mika Brzezinski has a sad, claiming that Darrell Issa calling Jay Carney a ‘paid liar’ on CNN yesterday “makes us all want to walk away and ignore” the White House’s scandals.

(Somewhere, the ghost of Ron Ziegler, who, just as Watergate was brewing, trashed the Washington Post from the podium when he served as Nixon’s press secretary is loving the irony.)

Jim Treacher offers a modest proposal to reverse the flailing network’s ratings woes:

You know how you can pull yourselves out of the ratings toilet, MSNBC? Go even further to the left. Enough of this 99% crap. Go full commie! Quit pretending to have any patience for free markets or liberty or any of that stuff you hate. Quit hinting around about it, and openly call for your ideological opponents to be imprisoned and put to death. Make your lies even more outrageous and laughable to anybody who’s been paying attention. Own your communism. Own it!

He’s got a point; a Soviet-style morning show could make for some exceptionally compelling programming:

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