The Hollywood Reporter’s Marissa Guthrie got under MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough’s skin when she asked him how he felt about his show falling behind CNN’s New Day in the ratings.
Just to be really blunt, because the influencers watch [our show], because it’s the audience that advertisers want, we make a lot of money for this network. That said, I’m really competitive, I like to win. More people have watched us for five years than CNN and hopefully more people will watch us over the next five years. But given the choice of having the most important news show to the influencers or beating CNN by a couple of points, that’s not even a close call. We are going to keep doing the same show. We don’t compete against CNN, we don’t compete against Fox, we don’t compete against Headline News, we compete against ourselves.
Morning Joe may have beaten CNN in the past, but since Jeff Zucker took over, he has remade the morning lineup and made his programs more competitive against MSNBC than they’ve been in years. The result is a four-month winning streak in total audience and seven-month streak in the key demo, which advertisers pay attention to when deciding where to spend their money. That could mean that all that money Scarborough has made for MSNBC is likely to flow elsewhere in the future.
MSNBC even tried airing Morning Joe in primetime to see if it would draw a larger audience, but it fared worse than the programs it replaced, leaving the network stuck for now with a program that few care to watch—morning or night—no matter how many newsmakers they book.