Phil Griffin

Boycott or Not, MSNBC Can’t Have It Both Ways (Updated)

 

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I totally agree with the author of this article…

Daily Banter

Updated Below

Maybe you’ve heard but MSNBC is once again taking crap for something it said. This morning, impossibly named RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced that the GOP would begin a boycott of the network in response to a tweet fired off from its official Twitter account yesterday. The offending tweet suggested that conservatives would dislike a new Cheerios ad that features a biracial family. And that’s putting it mildly. It’s since been deleted — as if that ever works — but it read as follows:

Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/biracial family. http://t.co/SpB4rQDoAR.

Priebus, immediately sensing something he could feign self-righteous outrage over, demanded an apology from MSNBC — and of course MSNBC, being what it is, complied without hesitation. That’s not good enough for Priebus, though — not when there’s mileage to be gained from a horseshit controversy that once again stokes the right’s perpetually inflamed persecution gland. He’s demanding a personal apology from Phil Griffin and says he’ll discourage Republican leaders, personalities and strategists from making appearances on the network until he gets one.

We can have our political disagreements with MSNBC, but using biracial families to launch petty and ridiculous political attacks is low, even by MSNBC’s standards. It only coarsens our political discourse.

MSNBC hosts—including Alec Baldwin, Martin Bashir, Melissa Harris-Perry, Alex Wagner, and Ronan Farrow just to name a few—have had a troubling streak in the last several weeks of making comments that belittle and demean Americans without furthering any thoughtful dialogue. Perhaps it’s time for the executives at MSNBC to consider whether their network is upholding a meaningful journalistic mission.

This is more than just a tweet or an offhand comment. This is part of a pattern of behavior that has gotten markedly worse, and until Phil Griffin personally apologizes and takes corrective action, we cannot be part of this network’s toxic programming.

I am confident that he will want to “lean forward” and prove to the American people that he does not condone this behavior. I look forward to his apology and corrective action.

And so we do this stupid, tiresome dance again, with the right pretending to be hurt and angry, its fragile sensibilities having been offended, and the left being shamed into submission with staggering ease.

Here was MSNBC’s tweeted apologia:

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It would be easy to run down the dozens and dozens and dozens of times that Fox News, the media arm of the Republican party, has voiced or written something undeniably offensive and has done so with a schoolyard bully’s expectation of impunity. It would also be easy to demonstrate the ways in which MSNBC’s tweet might be perceived as correct. But the more interesting story here is what MSNBC’s constant need to express remorse for even flirting with the same kind of language you regularly find at Fox News says about the network.

The issue is that MS is trying to have it both ways. It’s trying to engage in a street fight with Fox News and conservatives while also keeping its hands unbloodied. It wants to take a side but still remain true to the tenets of honest journalism, which are antithetical to taking a side. The problem is something I’ve written about before, which is that despite its occasionally combative progressive tone and urge to meet its enemies on their own terms, MSNBC still has to answer to the NBC mothership, which is insistent on balance and objectivity to a fault. NBC is so dedicated to the notion of being unbiased that it will proudly behave as if all political stories have two equal sides, essentially turning its journalists into little more than stenographers dutifully reporting the conventional wisdom of whichever side of the aisle they happen to be assigned to — and despite going way out on a limb over the past couple of years MSNBC has had to at least nominally toe that company line because to not do so would hurt NBC News’s reputation as a whole.

MSNBC is a subsidiary of NBC; Fox News is a subsidiary of Roger Ailes, and he’s a ruthless, unscrupulous son-of-a-bitch who isn’t bound in any way by the rules and morals that govern MS. That’s why MS can’t go up against him and the right unless it’s prepared to stop bringing a knife to a gunfight. It’s like Colonel Kurtz at the end of Apocalypse Now, where he speaks with both revulsion and awe of the willingness of the enemy to cut off the arms of children to achieve its goals. “It’s judgment that defeats us,” he says. Exactly. It’s judgment that defeats the left and MSNBC over and over again. A desire to be both vicious and moral.

Guys like Reince Priebus and Roger Ailes will continue to get the better of MSNBC as long as MS continues to pretend that it isn’t what it claims to and wants so badly to be: a ferocious and truthful adversary of conservatives and their media bullhorns. This isn’t even to say that it’s necessarily a good idea for MSNBC to take this tack and to be that kind of news outlet; I’ve said before that I’m not sure that’s where MSNBC should be headed. But one thing is for sure: As long as MSNBC keeps backing down when it gets called out by people who can score political points by doing so, it’s always going to lose. It’s always going to look weak.

Update: And, right on schedule, MSNBC has fired the person who sent the tweet and Phil Griffin has groveled before Priebus.

“We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet. I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended. At MSNBC we believe in passionate, strong debate about the issues and we invite voices from all sides to participate. That will never change.”

The “S” in MSNBC apparently stands for “suckers.”

MSNBC’s Phil Griffin Wants Alec Baldwin To ‘Tone Down’ His Twitter Feed

msnbc alec baldwin

LOS ANGELES, CA- SEPTEMBER 22: Actor Alec Baldwin and daughter Ireland Baldwin arrive at the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage) | Getty

This post may seem trivial but in my opinion,  posting something other than a story about the self-absorbed, media hound Ted Cruz is an improvement…

Huffington Post – Media

Alec Baldwin is never one to shy away from his emotions, but apparently MSNBC would like him to share them a little less with the public.

Baldwin’supcoming MSNBC show, “Up Late,” premieres October 11. It will be the closest thing to “Larry King Live” that the network has, featuring Baldwin in conversation with other boldfaced names.

MSNBC is presumably delighted to have a famous and attention-grabbing figure hosting a show on its airwaves. But the Hollywood Reporter’s Marisa Guthrie wroteon Wednesday that the network’s president, Phil Griffin, has asked Baldwin to “tone down his famously vitriolic Twitter feed”:

“He’s a big personality. I have confidence that he’ll be known for his interviews, not for any extraordinary …,” says Griffin, trailing off.

Baldwin has, of course, garnered plenty of publicity with his outbursts on Twitter.

 

MSNBC’s Collapse Began With The Departure of Keith Olbermann

bill-o-olbermann

First let me say that I don’t think MSNBC is “collapsing” as stated.  I will agree that Keith Olbermann was an asset to the network and MSNBC struggled to stay above water for a while.

During the 2012 election cycle the network was leading in certain markets.  That distinction dissipated shortly after the 2012 election…

PoliticusUSA

MSNBC’s ratings have plunged this year, and the the domino effect of bad decisions that have killed the network’s ratings began with the departure of Keith Olbermann.

Last week, Olbermann himself took to Twitter and said a bit about his former employer’s ratings. First Olbermann retweeted, “This is sarcasm, yes? RT @JonahsSeafood Very, Very impressive #ratings @msnbc. Especially without the help of @KeithOlbermann. @maddow great job filling his void.”

 

When he was asked if he was taking a shot at Maddow, the former Countdown host replied:

 

@Mishyana It’s about the collapse of that network. I don’t know anything about her any more;  she hasn’t bothered to speak to me since I left

 

Olbermann suggested that the network is in a state of collapse, and the second quarter ratings for 2013 have proven him right. MSNBC’s primetime is down 16% overall, and 12% with younger viewers. The primetime numbers for individual programs are even worse.

All In With Chris Hayes has been a complete ratings disaster. Hayes has lost 28% of The Ed Show’s viewers, and he is down 10% from Ed Schultz’s ratings with younger viewers. Hayes’ ratings struggles have led to Rachel Maddow having her worst quarter since 2008. Maddow’s struggles have led to Lawrence O’Donnell losing 15% of his total viewers, and 22% of his younger viewers.

MSNBC’s ratings decline can be traced back to three bad decisions.

The decision that started their decline was the departure of Keith Olbermann from the network. MSNBC head Phil Griffin thought that he could replace Olbermann with Lawrence O’Donnell. That decision spectacularly failed, but his next choice for the timeslot would prove to be more of a winner. Ed Schulz was the perfect fit for MSNBC’s 8 PM. His program had a bit of the sort of emotion and tone that Olbermann’s did. MSNBC rose to second in the cable news ratings. Occasionally, they even beat ratings leader Fox News.

However, earlier this year Phil Griffin made his second bad decision. Griffin decided that Schultz’s old school liberalism didn’t fit with the primetime lineup that he wanted to build. Griffin wanted a clone army of Maddow wonk nerds in primetime, and the blustery blue collar Schultz didn’t fit the bill. This resulted in Ed being shuffled off to the weekends to make room for Griffin’s third bad decision.

In his quest for hipper and younger viewers, Griffin installed Chris Hayes as the new 8 PM host. The Hayes that was smooth on his weekend morning show was quickly replaced by a host that has been at times painful to watch. Chris Hayes is the round peg that MSNBC keeps trying to fit into the square hole. It isn’t working. Nearly 30% of the viewers who tuned in for Ed have tuned out Chris Hayes. The flood of new young viewers hasn’t materialized, and Hayes is looking more and more like the television equivalent of a death row inmate.

MSNBC could have been positioning itself as a future challenger to Fox News. Instead, potential MSNBC viewers have moved over to a revived CNN. It is impossible to predict where MSNBC might be today if Keith Olbermann was still anchoring 8 PM, but the network would likely be in better shape than they currently are.

There is no chance of Olbermann coming back to MSNBC. He will be anchoring TBS’s MLB postseason coverage, and it being reported that he is talks with ESPN to host a late night talk show on ESPN 2. If the ratings for All In don’t improve, the move that makes the most sense is convincing Ed Schultz to come back to primetime, and sending Chris Hayes back to the weekends.

MSNBC has filled their bench with Maddow clone wonks, and unless they really want to break the mold and promote an African-American woman, it looks like they are going to sink or swim with Hayes.

Looking back, it’s clear that MSNBC’s downfall began with the bad decision to let Keith Olbermann walk out the door.

Olbermann suggested that the network is in a state of collapse, and the second quarter ratings for 2013 have proven him right. MSNBC’s primetime is down 16% overall, and 12% with younger viewers. The primetime numbers for individual programs are even worse.

All In With Chris Hayes has been a complete ratings disaster. Hayes has lost 28% of The Ed Show’s viewers, and he is down 10% from Ed Schultz’s ratings with younger viewers. Hayes’ ratings struggles have led to Rachel Maddow having her worst quarter since 2008. Maddow’s struggles have led to Lawrence O’Donnell losing 15% of his total viewers, and 22% of his younger viewers.

MSNBC’s ratings decline can be traced back to three bad decisions.

The decision that started their decline was the departure of Keith Olbermann from the network. MSNBC head Phil Griffin thought that he could replace Olbermann with Lawrence O’Donnell. That decision spectacularly failed, but his next choice for the timeslot would prove to be more of a winner. Ed Schulz was the perfect fit for MSNBC’s 8 PM. His program had a bit of the sort of emotion and tone that Olbermann’s did. MSNBC rose to second in the cable news ratings. Occasionally, they even beat ratings leader Fox News.

However, earlier this year Phil Griffin made his second bad decision. Griffin decided that Schultz’s old school liberalism didn’t fit with the primetime lineup that he wanted to build. Griffin wanted a clone army of Maddow wonk nerds in primetime, and the blustery blue collar Schultz didn’t fit the bill. This resulted in Ed being shuffled off to the weekends to make room for Griffin’s third bad decision.

In his quest for hipper and younger viewers, Griffin installed Chris Hayes as the new 8 PM host. The Hayes that was smooth on his weekend morning show was quickly replaced by a host that has been at times painful to watch. Chris Hayes is the round peg that MSNBC keeps trying to fit into the square hole. It isn’t working. Nearly 30% of the viewers who tuned in for Ed have tuned out Chris Hayes. The flood of new young viewers hasn’t materialized, and Hayes is looking more and more like the television equivalent of a death row inmate.

MSNBC could have been positioning itself as a future challenger to Fox News. Instead, potential MSNBC viewers have moved over to a revived CNN. It is impossible to predict where MSNBC might be today if Keith Olbermann was still anchoring 8 PM, but the network would likely be in better shape than they currently are.

There is no chance of Olbermann coming back to MSNBC. He will be anchoring TBS’s MLB postseason coverage, and it being reported that he is talks with ESPN to host a late night talk show on ESPN 2. If the ratings for All In don’t improve, the move that makes the most sense is convincing Ed Schultz to come back to primetime, and sending Chris Hayes back to the weekends.

MSNBC has filled their bench with Maddow clone wonks, and unless they really want to break the mold and promote an African-American woman, it looks like they are going to sink or swim with Hayes.

Looking back, it’s clear that MSNBC’s downfall began with the bad decision to let Keith Olbermann walk out the door.

 

 

 

 

What Really Went Wrong For MSNBC, And How To Really Fix It

To paraphrase a famous quote: The reports of MSNBC’s demise are greatly exaggerated.  

We’ve seen this before, but in reverse.  Last fall, MSNBC was beating Fox News in certain demographics.  Ratings go up and down and with that thought, there’s no doubt in my mind that MSNBC is here to stay…period.

Mediaite

There has been a lot of virtual ink devoted to the two months of dismal ratings that MSNBC has just endured, some of it sincere, some of it concern-trolling, and much of it tinged with Schadenfreude. There has even been talk that the network might never recover, at least not unless it abandons its Lean Forward identity. In order to figure out how to fix MSNBC’s problems, you have to understand what went wrong in the first place, and you have to actually want the network to thrive.

Before I even start, and more importantly, before any of you even start, let me set the record straight: I hate everything about TV ratings. I hate writing about them, reading about them, and I especially hate getting PR pitches about them. ratings are a terrible way to measure quality, especially in news programming, there are a million ways to slice and dice them, and just looking at them gives me a headache. This is not an invitation for you to email me about how your show is #1 with carpentry aficionados age 63-97. My concern for ratings is confined to their effect on whether I can continue watching programming that I enjoy.

That’s why I took notice when Salon‘s Alex Pareene, in an otherwise excellent column, suggested that MSNBC’s bad stretch has put the network’s progressive-leaning orbit into fatal decay. Are the ratings really that bad?

Well, they are pretty bad, from what I can see, and as Pareene notes, lots of people are taking this opportunity to beat up on All In host Chris Hayes. The launch of the former Up star’s 8 pm show just happened to coincide with an extended series of news cycles that played to rivals CNN and Fox News’ strengths, along with the climax of the HLN-owned-and-operated Jodi Arias trial. Here’s how Pareene describes it:

Meanwhile, CNN’s been given gift after gift by whichever minor demons are responsible for the creation of cable news stories. The channel’s new Zucker-approved softer focus and lack of dignity allowed it to capitalize on Jodi Arias nearly as much as its trashy sister station HLN did. The Boston bombings were a perfect CNN story, even if CNN botched the hell out of its coverage. The Dzhokhar Tsarnaev manhunt was precisely the sort of story that makes people go through their channel guides trying to remember which one CNN is. And then there was the West, Texas, explosion. CNN capitalized on all of this because CNN’s brand is “breaking news.” Fox capitalized because there are simply a whole bunch of people out there whose TVs are tuned to Fox basically all the time. MSNBC’s brand is “people either talking calmly or yelling at you, or each other, about politics.” These weren’t stories that made people think, “What does Chris Matthews have to say?” (Another problem: During huge stories, like the Boston bombing and subsequent manhunt, MSNBC frequently finds itself in the odd position of competing with its own sister network, when NBC News takes over the broadcast network.)

Ironically, MSNBC was alone among its cable news competitors in getting the Boston manhunt story right, a good deed for which they appear to be being punished. Fox News, meanwhile, has been carb-loading like Jabba the Hutt with ringworm on the three-headed Scandalabra™, and bloating its endlessly voracious audience in the process.

Continue here…

Pat Buchanan out indefinitely at MSNBC

The Raw Story

Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan has been suspended indefinitely from MSNBC, according to a statement from that network’s President Phil Griffin. An Associated Press article onCBSNews.com blames reaction to Buchanan’s latest book Suicide of a Superpower for his ouster from the cable network, as well as a campaign by the advocacy group,  Color of Change.

The former Nixon aide has long courted controversy. In April of this year he said that President Obama’s path to the White House was the result of “Affirmative Action all the way.” In 2009, he asserted that the U.S. “has been a country built, basically, by white folks.”

MSNBC’s Griffin apparently believes, however, that Buchanan’s newest work has crossed a line.Suicide of a Superpower came out in October and features chapters with titles like “The End of White America” and “The Death of Christian America.”

The AP quotes Griffin as saying, “Because of the content of the book, I didn’t think it should be part of the national dialogue, much less part of the dialogue on MSNBC.”

The network executive said that there has been no decision as to whether Buchanan will be allowed at any point to re-join the network’s political team. He also refused to reveal any details about the terms of Buchanan’s contract with the network or whether it would be renewed.

UPDATE: Color of Change has issued a statement regarding MSNBC’s decision to suspend Pat Buchanan. The activist group says: “ColorOfChange.org welcomes MSNBC’s decision to indefinitely suspend Pat Buchanan. However, it’s time for MSNBC to permanently end their relationship with Pat Buchanan and the hateful, outdated ideas he represents.  We appreciate this first step and urge MSNBC to take the important final step to ensure that their brand is no longer associated with Buchanan’s history of passing off white supremacy ideology as mainstream political commentary.”

Al Sharpton Officially Named MSNBC Host Of ‘PoliticsNation’

Al Sharpton

Image by Ewils Photo via Flickr

This is surely good news for the Rev. Al.   I, personally thought that the previous host in that time slot,  Cenk Uygur was doing a fine job.

We’ll see how long Reverend Al Sharpton lasts in his new MSNBC role.  Here’s wishing him well.

Huffington Post

Al Sharpton has been officially named the host of the 6 PM hour on MSNBC. The network announced Tuesday that Sharpton will host “PoliticsNation” on weeknights starting August 29.

Sharpton has been the de facto host of the hour for many weeks, but no official announcement had been made until Tuesday. He replaced Cenk Uygur as the all-but-official 6 PM host after Uygur’s acrimonious exit from MSNBC in July.

The choice of Sharpton to host the hour has been marked by some controversy. MSNBC was criticized for not hiring a black journalist as a host, and there were charges that Sharpton’s close ties to Comcast and the Obama White House helped him get the role. For his part, Sharpton dimissed these concerns, saying he was becoming the host because of his career in activism.

“I am very happy and honored to join the MSNBC team as we collectively try to get America to ’Lean Forward,’” Sharpton said in a statement. “It is a natural extension of my life work and growth. We all learn from our pain and stand up from our stumbling and one must either learn to lean forward or fall backwards. I’m glad they have given me the opportunity to continue my forward lean.”

See MSNBC’s full statement here…

Related articles

Rachel Maddow: Fox News Is A “McCarthyite Chamber Of Horrors”

Mediaite

In a profile of Rachel Maddow, The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz reveals how Maddow puts together her nightly show and also gets many comments praising the new “face of a cable network.” With Keith Olbermann gone, MSNBC is clearly looking to Maddow to lead the way and she seems eager to assume the position.

MSNBC’s President Phil Griffin says of Maddow, “she’s our biggest show . . . [she’s] so friggin’ smart . . . Very few people can be so honest with a remark, a giggle, a serious look. There’s no performance art. That performance is Rachel.” Even conservative commentator and former co-worker Tucker Carlson has nice things to say about Maddow. Despite Maddow seemingly being pleasant to work with, one thing that isn’t different between her and Olbermann is a distrust of her cable news competition.

Maddow’s take on Glenn Beck’s recent Muslim-related shows is that he is “running baroque conspiracies that are designed to freak people out about bogeymen coming to get them, conspiracies that are unsupported by the facts.” And her harshest blow is saved for the entire Fox News Channel, dismissing it as a “McCarthyite chamber of horrors . . . You can’t really call yourself a news channel if that’s what you broadcast.”

Kurtz notes that “Maddow’s repeated attacks have not provoked a response from Fox” yet maybe with her latest round of criticism things might change. Or maybe since Fox rarely acknowledged Olbermann’s comments, they plan on using a similar strategy against Maddow to help make her disappear too.

Check out Kurtz’s full story on Maddow.

HE’S BAAAAACK…

It’s good to see Keith Olbermann back at his MSNBC desk…

Huffington Post

Keith Olbermann returned to “Countdown” from his two-day suspension with a bang on Tuesday, sidling into the view of the cameras in front of his empty seat and saying, “this was not a publicity stunt. Of course, if I had known all of this would happen, I would have done this years ago!”

Keith Olbermann Hoax: Did Tucker Carlson Pose As Olbermann In Emails?

Tucker Carlson doesn’t like Keith Olbermann. He even purchased a website domain entitled www.keitholbermann.com

But that’s just part of the story.  The plot thickens…

Huffington Post

Did Tucker Carlson perpetrate a hoax by posing as Keith Olbermann in a series of emails?

On Tuesday afternoon, a set of emails surfaced on the Philadelphia news site Phawker. Phawker said that the emails showed the “100% for real” correspondence between Olbermann and Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky over the weekend. In the emails, “Olbermann” talks about his boss, MSNBC President Phil Griffin, in hyperbolic, insulting terms.

In one email, “Olbermann” says that Griffin is “not my boss (thank god), nor is he intellectually qualified to be…I’ll be anchoring on election night 2012, long after Phil Griffin has moved on to a job for which he’s actually qualified, perhaps on QVC.”

In another, “Olbermann” writes that “I could have Phil Griffin fired tomorrow if I felt like it, trust me. And if he keeps yapping about me in public, I may. For the moment, however, keeping Phil around is like having a drunk chimp in the office — more amusing than threatening.”

The incendiary emails seemed too good to be true — and, as it turns out, they were. The emails from “Olbermann” came from keith@keitholbermann.com. That’s an address that is not owned by Olbermann, but by Tucker Carlson, conservative pundit and editor of the Daily Caller website. In July, Carlson announced that he had purchased the domain name KeithOlbermann.com, and told Politico that people could email him at Keith@KeithOlbermann.com — the same address that the emails to Bykofsky came from.

Once people raised their suspicions about the authenticity of the emails, Olbermann quickly denied that he had any involvement in them. “Complete fake,” he tweeted. “Email address shown not mine.” Bykofsky and Phawker both acknowledged that they had been hoaxed.

The only one who hasn’t spoken out? Carlson himself.