Last fall, MSNBC set a $2 million Lean Forward ad campaign that sought to cast MSNBC as the place for politics. Well, a year later and the ratings book is out. MSNBC scores quite low. Perhaps a TV test pattern or a Yuletide log would garner higher ratings.
Then in November, MSNBC forced Keith Olbermann out of his anchor chair for violating NBC corporate policy by donating to political campaigns. Yet in 2006, Joe Scarborough not only gave to a campaign while working for NBC but he also featured an interview with the candidate a week later. Perhaps this harsh treatment of the volatile but popular (in liberal niches) Olbermann so as to ensure the merger with Comcast. But this legerdemain did not go over well with the pretentious pundit.
In another less than sharp ratings decision, MSNBC eased out Cenk Uygur from the six o’clock news to be replaced by liberal street activist Al Sharpton. While this strategerie (sic) aligns with the MSNBC meta-message of "Lean Forward", it would help if Sharpton could read a teleprompter.
Granted, Sharpton does have several years experience on the radio but live television is a whole different picture.
Cynics speculate that Sharpton hiring might have some connection with the Reverend throwing his support behind the Comcast/NBC merger before the FCC. To Xfinity (sic) and beyond! If NBC is worried about mixing partisanship with journalism, perhaps they should monitor Sharpie sharp’s “Jobs for Justice” rally on the National Mall on October 15th. One could try to draw a parallel with Glenn Beck’s Rally for Honor in August, 2010, but the latter was not about politics and certainly it only received cursory coverage from Beck’s then broadcaster Fox News Channel.
Being a believer in the free marketplace, it is not troubling to have a news channel that comes from a certain point of view. Over the last 15 years, Fox News has excelled in the ratings as being a place that gives conservatism a friendly ear while being "Fair and Balanced". Granted, since I am not one of of MSNBC half dozen viewers, I can not think of a conservative voice affiliated with the network. The Morning Joe was once a GOP congressman from FL-1 but between his linguine spine and Mika musing, it does not dig its way out of the liberal cocoon. This would be fine if it won eyeballs, but that is not the case.
Considering its abysmal Arbitron numbers, inquiring minds want to know why Comcast wants to "Lean Forward" on the ratings road to no-where. But this presupposes ratings are the only factor. In years past, when G.E. owned NBC, the network that was proud of its peacock flacked for green concerns. This environmental interest ingratiated itself among liberal circles as well as being good for G.E.’s other business interests. But Comcast is a media business so consistently low ratings should be an anathema.