Tags: msnbc | ratings | cnn | fox

MSNBC Ratings Plunge Prompts Media Soul Searching

Thursday, 11 Jul 2013 04:07 PM

By Andrea Billups

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Media critics, pundits and others are discussing why ratings at the liberal-leaning MSNBC have continued to fall since the 2012 presidential elections, The National Journal reports, noting its increasingly weak programming and ties to an administration that is struggling.

Ratings have fallen off consistently at MSNBC after closing in on CNN and the usual leader, Fox News. In the second quarter of 2013, compared with 2012, viewership had dropped 16 percent, the Journal reported.

At least one source says the network's fealty to the Obama administration, which has suffered a consistent drop in public opinion, may be to blame.

"When you're too predictably a mouthpiece for the administration and you cast your lot with the president's performance, there's a risk," said David Shuster, who moved from MSNBC to Current TV in 2011.

The network, like several others, has constantly aired the George Zimmerman trial recently, where closing arguments were heard Thursday, but that coverage has eclipsed other issues.

The Journal cited an "insider" source who weighed in on what those working for the TV network are feeling about the trial's heightened coverage.

"It's less the amount of coverage because everyone does that and especially after CNN covering [Jodi] Arias [murder trial] did so well. And we have a large African-American viewership that's interested," the source said. "The issue is whether we cover it the right way, as a legal issue, which we're mostly doing or does it get covered like it's 2012, when there was no indictment, as a political fight. I worry."

MSNBC political director Chuck Todd seems peeved by the narrow focus, the Journal reported, citing a viral video on Washington's Free Beacon of the veteran political reporter lamenting he didn't have time to get in top political news because of the trial coverage.

Others cited the networks intellectual and urbane line-up during the 8-11 p.m. viewership period -- calling it too sophisticated and not diverse enough -- for turning viewers away. A decline in progressives was also noted, given the Obama administration's strain to move along its agenda in a second term.

Keith Olbermann, who was once an MSNBC star but who also left for Current TV, said on Twitter that the network had "collapsed."

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, in characteristic bluntness agreed.

"It's all falling apart, O'Reilly said.

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