In an article in the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC president Phil Griffin praises anchor Ed Schultz, who is one of the linchpins of the network’s primetime lineup, by saying that he will succeed because “he’s in the bullseye of so many issues.”
The article, which chronicles the rise of Schultz at MSNBC where he is now on his third and most prominent time slot, is full of praise from Griffin. Besides predicting future success for Schultz, Griffin told the Times that “This is a guy who understands how to connect with real people.”
According to the Times, Schultz has seen his ratings increase 60% compared to a year ago, when he was struggling to fend off both Greta Van Susteren at Fox and Anderson Cooper at CNN.
But that 60% rise conveniently ignores the fact that there are fewer viewers at 10 p.m., where he was previously slotted, compared to the 8 p.m. time period in which his show now airs. And there was no mention that despite the big ratings jump, which is an apples and oranges comparison to begin with, Schultz is locked in a fierce ratings battle with CNN’s Cooper.
While Schultz usually beats Cooper in total audience, he frequently loses to him in the key A25-54 demo. Just last week, for the four days that ratings are available, Cooper beat Schultz in the demo on three of the days, including last Monday when he outdrew Schultz by 100,000 viewers, a very significant margin.
That type of performance isn’t exactly rock solid and is well below the results that Keith Olbermann used to deliver when he was working for MSNBC.
MSNBC has struggled with the 8 p.m. time period since Olbermann’s departure and they are pinning their future success on Schultz, but he is struggling where it counts against Cooper. That may wind up being his undoing in the end despite Griffin’s pronouncements.