Politico's Dylan Byers: MSNBC in Freefall

Sunday, 30 Mar 2014 03:43 PM

By Greg Richter

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MSNBC's ratings and revenue are in the tank, and it doesn't look like the left-leaning cable news channel has much hope of recovery, says Politico media columnist Dylan Byers.

The favorite news channel for liberals rose to prominence criticizing President George W. Bush, and hit its peak during President Barack Obama's first campaign in 2008, Byers noted. But as Obama's presidency has lagged in recent years, so have MSNBC's fortunes.

Though competitors Fox News Channel and CNN also saw viewership decline in 2013, neither experienced the dismal decline of MSNBC, according to the Pew Research Center.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

Story continues below video.

And worse for MSNBC, Fox's revenues have skyrocketed and CNN's have grown steadily over the past decade. MSNBC's were on a slow crawl, and now are projected to drop 2 percent.

Prime time on MSNBC is just hours of what often seems like "feigned outrage," Byers writes. "And the daytime strategy – giving shows to kids in their 20s and 30s, in an apparent bid to reach the youths – is comically bad, and rendered absurd at every commercial break when the catheter ads come on."

The 2016 presidential elections will help MSNBC, Byers admits, but will do the same for all cable news outlets. For the long term, MSNBC must figure out what to do during non-election years, he said.

The channel's big shows, "The Rachel Maddow Show," "Hardball with Chris Matthews," and "Morning Joe" should be saved, Byers said. The rest of the channel, however, "is in need of a restart."

In a video produced by Politico, Byers suggested the only hope for MSNBC would be the election of "a really, really far-right Republican they could harp on for four years."

His co-host, Hadas Gold, said they might just get that after the 2014 midterms. Gold suggested MSNBC wipe out its entire daytime schedule and hire more hosts like Maddow. The network is perceived as "elitist" even by liberals, Gold said, and speaks only to the New York-D.C. corridor.

The Washington Post's media blogger Eric Wemple wasn't surprised at MSNBC's demise.

Wemple said his analysis at year's end found "a lot of panel discussions that lean left; tons of volunteer lefty blather; and not nearly enough reporting from the NBC News folks that MSNBC can summon for segments."

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

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