While battling falling ratings and embarrassing scandals, America’s shrill leftist network is still highly profitable. Why?
In the July/August issue of TheBlaze Magazine, media analyst Dan Gainor details many of the scandals and upheavals at MSNBC, as well as the dishonest leadership that the left-wing progressive hosts answer to. He also examines the hundreds of millions of dollars in profits the network pulls in despite its bleak ratings future.
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Below is an excerpt from from the introduction of our special feature about the home of Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton and Joe Scarborough titled “MesSNBC.” But you can get the full story ONLY in the newest issue of TheBlaze Magazine.
Even though liberal radio network Air America failed, pundits have assumed there would be enough of an audience for left-wing MSNBC to flourish. But a series of scandals—on- and off-air—firings of staff and falling ratings have left the network’s future muddled.
The bluest part of the peacock empire has had to endure more than its share of bad news in the past year. It first had to rid itself of two prominent hosts: Hot-tempered Alec Baldwin was fired for a homophobic rant against a photographer; Martin Bashir resigned after saying former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin deserved to have someone urinate in her mouth.
Those two disasters were quickly followed by other embarrassments. Host Melissa Harris-Perry was forced to apologize after leading a segment that mocked Mitt Romney’s adopted African-American grandson. Not to be outdone, an MSNBC staffer was fired after announcing on Twitter that “the rightwing will hate” a Cheerios ad featuring a biracial family.
All of that bad news was accompanied by a ratings slide that saw rival CNN fly past MSNBC into the second spot for cable news—despite the endless criticism of CNN’s over-the-top coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet. Fox News still maintains its solid grip on No. 1. “April proved a cruel month for MSNBC, with the news channel hitting some of its lowest ratings in seven years, and its prominent morning show, ‘Morning Joe,’ falling to third place in the cable news competition,” wrote Bill Carter for the New York Times.
Ratings weren’t the only problem. Public Policy Polling’s annual assessment of the “most trusted and least trusted name in news” reported that just 6 percent of viewers trust MSNBC the most. Rival Fox News came in at No. 1 with 35 percent trust, or nearly six times the MSNBC figure.
The only consolation for MSNBC was that it beat big sister NBC, which scored 3 percent, the lowest of any major network. MSNBC didn’t even do well with its target market: It was still only the fifth-most trusted network among Obama voters.
The liberal Pew Center for People and the Press reinforced the idea that the network is filled with ranting liberal windbags, though it was more delicate. The center’s 2013 State of the News Media report showed how MSNBC’s content is 85 percent opinion, just 15 percent reporting. Fox News, by contrast, is 55 percent opinion.
Hardly good news for MSNBC whose president, Phil Griffin, claims, “We are in a knife fight for every viewer”—especially, when even the White House knows that cutting remark is a fantasy. President Barack Obama mocked the little-watched network during the 2014 White House Correspondents Association dinner, saying, “MSNBC is here. They are a little overwhelmed. They’ve never seen an audience this big before.”
Conservatives, naturally, focus their criticism more on what is said on MSNBC. They have a lot to choose from. National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke blasted the network as an “alternative universe.” Since the 2012 election, he charged, it has moved “in the amusing vernacular of its critics, from being ‘MSDNC’—or a thinly disguised cheerleader for the Democratic Party—to ‘MSLSD,’ a fully psychedelic exposition of the grad-school-progressive id.”
Conservative media entrepreneur Michelle Malkin was equally dismissive. “MSNBC is unsalvageable,” she explained. “It is irreparably tainted as a left-wing circus of demagogues and race hustlers masquerading as a ‘news’ network. The only way to ‘fix’ its ‘brand problems’ is to drop every pretense of journalism.”
Based on recent scandals, many critics would argue that has already happened.
It’s almost impossible to pick which scandal has been the worst for MSNBC. Fired hosts, manipulated photos and crazy comments show a network in trouble—enough that critics smell blood in the water.
The network hosts have offended gays (Baldwin); veterans (Lawrence O’Donnell who was uncomfortable with the word “heroes”); interracial families (Harris-Perry); Mormons (O’Donnell again) and more.
Each time it happens, the on-air talent apologizes. Sometimes they are even fired for it. Then it repeats. Apparently, “The Cycle” isn’t just a name for the network’s knock-off of Fox News’ “The Five”—it’s a motto.
The Baldwin incident was contained because it …
Get the full report, including scandal details, profit numbers, outrageous quotes, and fired and disciplined hosts, in the TheBlaze Magazine.
Gainor answers the question “Can MSNBC really be this nutty?” and examines the influence the lucrative network has in the political and media worlds—all in the July-August issue of TheBlaze, which you can get for FREE.
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