Accuracy in Media

nbc universal photoLess than two years ago, MSNBC president Phil Griffin was feeling very confident that the network was on the right track and could be a legitimate challenger to long-time cable news champ, Fox News.

Today, he must feel more like the captain of the Titanic, after the network hit a seven-year low in the recently released third-quarter ratings.

Griffin, who said after the release of the latest ratings that the network was going through a “tough stretch,” blamed the low approval ratings and dysfunction in Washington as contributing factors to MSNBC’s ratings woes, according to The New York Times’ Bill Carter.

“You can look at the dysfunction in Washington, the wariness about politics, the low approval ratings,” said Griffin. “That’s had an impact. But we’ve got to adjust; we’ve got to evolve.”

While Griffin may have been referring to Congress’ low approval ratings, if there is a politician to blame for MSNBC’s sinking ratings, it comes down to one man—Barack Obama. The network went all-in for the President and his policies, and is now getting burned by the failure of his presidency. But the real culprit is lousy programming that only a die-hard liberal wants to watch.

The problems at MSNBC are widespread, as Carter notes. Rachel Maddow, who has been the queen bee of the network’s ratings for the last few years, saw her quarterly ratings drop to its lowest level ever. Morning Joe racked up its second-lowest quarterly ratings, averaging just 87,000 in the key A25-54 demo. The much hyped Ronan Farrow Daily show has flopped, with just 45,000 viewers in the demo, and is widely expected to be canceled any day now.

One longtime news executive told the Times that while Maddow remains a draw, the show has become predictable.

“In terms of Rachel, everybody knows every night what she’s going to say,” he said. “The network just doesn’t surprise you.”

Apparently even liberals are tired of hearing the same left-wing pablum night after night.

Just like CNN, MSNBC needs a makeover. While CNN president and CEO Jeff Zucker has made little progress since he took over, he is trying, in an odd sort of way, to revamp the lineup. But Griffin, on the other hand, has largely stood pat with the network’s lineup—with a couple of exceptions—even as ratings slid.

Both Griffin and Zucker could learn from Fox News Channel’s Roger Ailes, who despite dominating in primetime, shook up his lineup. The result—even higher ratings—further cementing Fox’s position as the number one cable news network.

If Griffin can’t right the network soon, maybe NBC will take Bill O’Reilly’s advice and pull the plug on MSNBC.


Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


Comments are turned off for this article.