Will the last host to get fired by MSNBC please turn out the lights?
MSNBC’s lurch to the left is failing big time. Embarrassingly so. As Lisa de Moraes reported Thursday:
One year after debuting them with unimpressive numbers, MSNBC finally threw in the towel on Ronan Farrow’s show and The Reid Report because the botched experiment with going after the multi-platform generation was flatlining.
In February 2015, compared to Andrea Mitchell Reports in the same time slot in February 2014, Farrow’s show is down 27% in overall audience, to 212,000 viewers. More impressively, MSNBC has taken a nosebleed dive of 70% in the news demo with the guy they thought was the next It Boy Of Journalism, to a paltry 28,000 viewers, versus Mitchell’s 93,000.
Meanwhile, Fox News Channel’s Happening Now is averaging 226,000 news demo viewers in Farrow’s time slot, and CNN’s Wolf is averaging 144,000.
Farrow, you may recall, was hyped mightily, based on his celebrity parentage (Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, though wags have noted his resemblance to former Farrow flame Frank Sinatra) and dreamy blue eyes. At 26, he had about the same journalistic credibility and experience as Chelsea Clinton did at sister network NBC.
Ms. Joy Reid, also axed, brought less glamor, but more anger, offering what the National Review’s Charles Cooke called “racially-charge political orthodoxy.”
I am not aware of whether either figure has a contract ensuring pay even if not on-air, but both of these failed hosts will continue to produce content for MSNBC:
Reid will become MSNBC’s national correspondent, and will produce original reporting for all platforms. She will return to her roots, as a multi-platform journalist with a respected and distributed take on the news, and will serve as a regular contributor for MSNBC’s primetime shows, and will become the first dedicated reporter for NowThisNews, which has been partnering with MSNBC to significantly expand production and distribution of video content to reach younger audiences who live and consumer media predominantly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr and other social platforms.
Farrow will launch a new series of primetime specials, featuring in-depth interviews with newsmakers, business leaders, artists, athletes, filmmakers, advocates, and elected officials. He will also continue to be a special correspondent featured across MSNBC’s programming. This is a role he has been laying the groundwork for throughout the past year, interviewing President Jimmy Carter, Angelina Jolie, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Miley Cyrus, former presidential contender Mitt Romney, Gwen Stefani, and the first television interview with Malala Yousafzai after she won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Charles Cooke’s analysis at National Review is very good, considering the various factors that could account for the catastrophic decline of MSNBC’s viewership, and comparing MSNBC to Fox News. Part of it is no doubt that the rest of the MSM is leftish, so FNC stands out and appeals to what Charles Krauthammer called (I paraphrase) “the niche market of 50% of the country.” Part of it is that during the Bush administration, widespread public disapproval led to large numbers seeking a strongly critical voice. And part of it is that the current on air talent at MSNBC is less appealing than former mainstay Keith Olbermann (now on ESPN, returning to his sports roots).
But I also think that the excesses of the Obama administration have to some extent damaged progressivism in the public’s mind. This may mean that if a GOP president is elected, FNC will lose viewers and MSNBC gain. Perhaps, but FNC did not go into steep decline during the Bush years as MSNBC has.
The owner of MSNBC, Comcast, has been a big supporter of the Obama candidacy, in terms of political contributions of it employees. Due to its lucrative cable business, it can afford to carry MSNBC, so the lights are not in danger of being turned off anytime soon. But with a fiduciary duty to stockholders, sooner or later, it should try to redirect the cable network in more lucrative directions. Perhaps this will help:
An MSNBC rep describes today’s move as part of a “larger strategy to grow our news-gathering and content center.” The programming changes and “investments in its dayside news coverage” will help the network become “more nimble and integrated” with the news operation, which it believes will better position the network to cover big stories and do more in-depth original reporting and interviews.
Or better yet, this:
MSNBC announced Tom Colicchio, award-winning chef, restaurant owner, founder of Crafted Hospitality, is joining the network as its first-ever food correspondent for all platforms.
Restaurants! Yeah, that’s the ticket.