MSNBC Changes Reaffirm Lack Of Network Leadership
Ratings Speak Louder Than Fawning Press Coverage
Almost as soon as it was announced that Air America's Rachel Maddow would be taking over for Dan Abrams in cable prime time, your Radio Equalizer began to receive emails. Would this site rant and rave simply because a leftist television network has replaced one "progressive" with another?
In the past, we haven't been afraid to counter some of Maddow's Franken-esque glowing press coverage, calling attention to her lack of experience and other shortcomings. Your Radio Equalizer believes she's absorbed a bit too much of this praise, which could lead to yet another cable talk personality flame-out.
This time, however, we're not worked up over the move itself. Read on to find out why.
According to the New York Times, Maddow's insertion into the lineup is part of MSNBC's umpteenth "shakeup". In addition, we've learned from an industry source that Rachel had recently shopped her tapes to rivals and made a surprisingly determined effort to land a position at the supposedly-evil FOX News Channel! How well would this have gone over with the HuffPo/ DailyKos crowd?
From the New York Times piece:
The addition of Ms. Maddow as a prime-time host had been expected for some time. Only a month ago Mr. Griffin said she was at the top of the list to get a program at the network and was likely to secure one soon.
MSNBC has put heavy emphasis this year on presidential election coverage (it has given itself the tag line “The Place for Politics”), and it has turned to Ms. Maddow frequently both as a guest and as a substitute for its most popular host, Keith Olbermann. Mr. Olbermann’s emergence as the signature personality on MSNBC has led to its unofficial rebranding as the liberal alternative to Fox News, which is dominated by conservative hosts like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.
MSNBC has been known to be seeking a way to capitalize to a greater degree on Mr. Olbermann’s popularity. A program with Ms. Maddow as host will almost certainly be a closer ideological fit with Mr. Olbermann’s.
It's more than simply "capitalizing" on Olbermann's supposed popularity, as the man himself has actually taken credit for the move:
On his Daily Kos blog today, Keith Olbermann is taking some of the credit for Rachel Maddow getting her own show at 9pmET. "Let me answer the key questions in advance," he writes:
4) Yes, I had something to do with it.
5) Yes, you had something to do with it.
An insider tells TVNewser, "This is further proof that Keith Olbermann really does run MSNBC."
But Olbermann's "popularity" is only in theory, as is MSNBC's. Don't believe us? Take a look at Nielsen data released just yesterday, where it ranks a mere twenty-seventh in primetime cable overall, while rival FOX News Channel takes second, just behind USA.
As for Maddow, she's consistently been one of Air America's lowest- rated hosts, with a show that has been picked up by relatively few affiliates and an almost total inability to drive revenue growth.
Given those credentials and the network's overall non-performance, why should there be any outrage about Maddow's hiring? Isn't she a perfect fit?
As they did with Al Franken during his Air America tenure, the mainstream media seems to believe that a nonstop flow of positive coverage can lead to big ratings for their "progressive" friends. Unfortunately for them, the proof is in the pudding.
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