Accuracy in Media

Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell

MSNBC president Phil Griffin, who predicted last year that the network would beat Fox News Channel by 2014, admitted this week that the network has had a “tough stretch.” He added that despite the fact that MSNBC’s ratings have sunk to a 7-year low, he is in this for the “long term.”

Griffin made his remarks at a luncheon for new morning anchor Jose Diaz-Balart, according to TV Newser:

‘I think we’ve done a lot of good stuff,’ Griffin told us regarding the changes he’s made this year to the daytime lineup, which includes adding Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid at 1 pm and 2 pm ET, respectively.

‘It’s been a tough run, honestly, since it’s happened because of the story lines, but I’ve been really pleased. Ronan’s done a lot of good stuff,’ he continued, noting a story Farrow did on rape kit backlogs across the country.

‘I’m in this for the long term. This has been a tough stretch, for everybody, but I think we’ve got the right people. Look, we’ll probably tinker with it, you always have to figure out where you are and how the world is changing. We should, we gotta respond.’

Tough stretch for everybody? While MSNBC’s ratings were sinking, Fox News finished the third quarter as the number one network in all of cable, while CNN’s ratings were up 2% in total primetime viewers and 4% in the A25-54 demo. MSNBC, by comparison, was down double digits in both total day and primetime, finishing fourth behind FNC, CNN and HLN in the total day demo.

MSNBC had its lowest rated quarter since the fourth quarter of 2007 in both total day and primetime viewers, and the lowest since the second quarter of 2006 in the A25-54 demo.

Griffin, who made his bold prediction about overtaking Fox News in March 2013, is singing a different tune these days, as he engages in a see-saw battle with CNN for the number two position behind Fox News. That spot was firmly in MSNBC’s hands as recently as less than two years ago.

The problem for MSNBC during this “tough stretch” is that Griffin doesn’t have any idea how to fix what’s wrong at the network. With the exception of replacing Ed Schultz with Chris Hayes last year at 8 p.m., Griffin has stood pat with his primetime lineup and watched viewers abandon the network. That is in stark contrast to Fox News, which saw its ratings soar after rejiggering its primetime lineup last year.

With an unpopular Democratic President—even among the Democrats—and a poor outlook in this year’s mid-term elections for the party, there is little reason for liberals to tune in to MSNBC at the present time, or in the foreseeable future.


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