Ed Driscoll

MSNBC: 'Dukakis After Dark' Meets Groundhog Day


“With about three weeks to go before a big midterm election, and with Barack Obama’s progressive agenda in danger of getting rejected, one would think that this would be a banner time for politics on TV,” but not for NBC’s increasingly little-watched cable opinion network, Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air:

After all, we have Senate races going down to the wire, and at least one major Cabinet office open. The 2016 presidential season hasn’t quite started, but players are making preliminary moves. Interest in politics, especially among Obama backers, should be peaking at the moment.

Instead, it appears to be approaching a nadir. The New York Times reports that MSNBC, which offers almost an entire schedule of shows catering to the Obama agenda, has seen its ratings plummet:

Rachel Maddow, the biggest star on the MSNBC cable network, just posted her lowest quarterly ratings results ever.

“Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s signature morning program, scored its second-lowest quarterly ratings, reaching an average of just 87,000 viewers in the key news demographic group.

And “Ronan Farrow Daily,” the network’s heavily promoted new afternoon show, which stars a 26-year-old Rhodes Scholar with a high-profile Hollywood lineage, has been largely a dud.

Though it has mostly happened quietly, which may be a comment on the cable network’s larger status in the media landscape, MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows.

MSNBC’s dilemma is somewhat existential: its leftwing anchors such as Maddow, Farrow, Chris Matthews, and Al Sharpton uniformly loathe middle America, rural America, and suburban America, and everyone who votes Republican, considering them to be alternatively racist, sexist, anti-environmentalist, or some combination thereof*. As Ricochet’s Troy Senik has noted, “Populism’s Hard When You Don’t Like the People.”

And it gives MSNBC and its parent network a built-in excuse for failure: Of course we’re dying in the ratings — we’re too forward and “Progressive” for most of America, which rejects our (in reality century-old) political agenda.  The entire network is the earlier, funnier Saturday Night Live’s** classic “Dukakis After Dark” sketch meets Groundhog Day. Of course, it doesn’t help that the entire NBC brand is awfully tainted these days when it comes to news and opinion.

Incidentally, this is far from the first time that MSNBC has struggled to find viewers — I created the Photoshop parody of MSNBC’s “Lean Forward” ad campaign atop this post back in October of 2010.  A few months later, I joked that perhaps MSNBC’s best bet to increase its ratings is to really Lean Forward

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….Only to see MSNBC apparently took my advice!

*The same is true regarding virtually all of the anchors at CNN, but at least they usually wear the mask of objectivity to hide that they’re also Democrat operatives with bylines.

** Which is having ratings woes of its own, for much the same reason as MSNBC: the show loathes its audience and is pushing a discredited political agenda.  Of course, unlike MSNBC, SNL’s woes are compounded by its being unintentionally not funny.

Update: Question asked and answered: