MSNBC announced today that it will launch a new program on Monday called The Cycle to fill a hole in its lineup that was created when Dylan Ratigan announced a few weeks ago that he was leaving the network to pursue other opportunities.
The network had previously decided to move Martin Bashir from the 3 p.m. time slot to Ratigan’s slot at 4 p.m. Thus, Bashir’s show will now precede Hardball with Chris Matthews.
The Cycle will have four hosts: Touré, Krystal Ball, Steve Kornacki and S.E. Cupp. The first three hosts are liberal while Cupp will be the lone conservative. The format will be almost a mirror image of Fox News Channel’s The Five, with just one less commentator in the mix.
Steve Friedman, executive producer of Ratigan’s show, will now produce The Cycle and gave The Huffington Post some details on the new show:
Friedman said that plans for the new show began two or three months ago, when Ratigan told MSNBC executives he was thinking of leaving.
“The Cycle” will be an ensemble show; all four hosts will appear every day, with each one taking turns facilitating the discussion. If that sounds like a certain 5 p.m. Fox News show, the team behind “The Cycle” is well aware of it. In the Thursday interview, Cupp, Kornacki, Touré and Ball all jokingly pretended not to know what “The Five” is, and Friedman flatly rejected the notion that his new show was derivative.
“When ‘The Five’ started, did you go and ask them if they were doing ‘The View’?” he asked. “When ‘The View’ started, did you ask them if they were doing the ‘Today’ show?
Friedman says he won’t worry about the ratings until the fall and will only have five weeks to work out the initial kinks before the Olympics, which will pre-empt The Cycle for three weeks. Then, when the show returns, it will have to work on building an audience all over again.
If MSNBC isn’t careful they may wind up having to send the show to the re-cycle bin.