NYT: Is MSNBC 'Being Damaged By Perception It's Not Really a News Channel Anymore?'

Since practically its inception, NewsBusters has been informing readers that MSNBC is not a news network.

In an article to be published in Monday's New York Times, national media reporter Bill Carter actually asked if MSNBC is "being damaged by a perception that it is not really a news channel anymore."

Indeed. That's what we've been saying for years.

After sharing some of the horrible ratings numbers for MSNBC in recent months, Carter spoke to network president Phil Griffin about why viewers seem to turn away from his channel when serious news items break.

“We’re not the place for that,” Griffin said. “Our brand is not that.”

Carter agreed writing, "The brand, one MSNBC has cultivated with success, is defined by its tagline, 'The Place for Politics,' and a skew toward left-wing, progressive political talk, the opposite of the conservative-based approach that has worked well for Fox News."

But that really doesn't make sense, does it? The tagline should be "The Place for Perilously Liberal Politics."

Case in point: Fox News viewership increased during the "breaking news" heavy months of April and May that included the Boston marathon bombings, the explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, and all the tornadoes in recent weeks.

As such, isn't it possible that viewers don't notice the political leaning of Fox News as much as they do that of MSNBC?

This is particularly likely given how many liberal contributors and guests Fox has compared to practically no conservatives at MSNBC save Joe Scarborough and S.E. Cupp.

The Times seemed to agree that MSNBC's recent decline might be serious writing, "But there is speculation that something different may be happening this time, that a combination of a more aggressive approach from CNN, dimming interest in political news in general, and a sense that MSNBC has less to offer in hard news coverage, may be eroding the advantage that the channel has enjoyed."


“People are just sick of politics,” said one former senior network news producer, who asked not to be identified because of current dealings with another news organization. Mr. Griffin agreed that “dysfunction in Washington” has been a factor in MSNBC’s recent struggles.

MSNBC’s viewers may have especially grown tired of politics because the news has been mostly negative recently toward President Obama, whom MSNBC’s hosts have championed. As another senior producer for news programs at multiple networks put it, “People will watch MSG when the Knicks are hot, and not watch when they aren’t.”

What the Times didn't consider was how viewers might have been sickened in recent months by how MSNBC has continued to champion Obama despite the scandals facing him.

There comes a point when the most ardent fans must become disenchanted when so-called news accounts of their hero's difficulties paint an absurdly flattering picture.

Is it possible that some MSNBC viewers in recent months have become insulted by what's been presented?

Although the Times didn't consider this, it did offer another possibility:

A broader question is whether MSNBC is being damaged by a perception that it is not really a news channel anymore. “MS has stopped doing news so you don’t really think of them when there is a breaking news story,” said a producer who has worked in both cable and broadcast news, who asked not to be identified because of continuing relationships with one of the networks.

Of course, this is what we've been saying for years.

The only question remaining is when cable and satellite providers will reach this same conclusion and move MSNBC away from the real news stations on their program guides.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.