The Hollywood trade magazine Variety offered an article asking “MSNBC: Too Much Opinion and Not Enough News? Focus on commentary and advocacy may be dampening viewership”. It has no “news” anchor for breaking events. Variety’s Brian Steinberg asked “Who is the face of MSNBC should terrorism cripple a major American city?"
Steinberg says the strong turn left into all-opinion programming originally helped during Obama’s ascent, but they’re slipping now in Obama's second term. Author Jeffrey McCall suggesting the emerging Obama scandals are demoralizing their audience:
“MSNBC’s problems might be more than just a hiccup...Now that the Obama administration’s fortunes have apparently declined with various challenges like NSA, IRS and Benghazi, previously (enthusiastic) news consumers on the left might find it hard to keep tuned in.”
Steinberg relayed the recent Pew Reseach Center survey of three days from late 2012 that found “opinion and commentary overwhelmed straight news on MSNBC by 85% to 15%. Fox News content included 55% opinion and commentary and 45% factual reporting, Pew said, while CNN content consisted of 46% opinion and commentary and 54% factual reporting.” Steinberg concluded:
Dispensing “just the facts” is no longer enough for most people. Just ask your local newspaper publisher. Still, when big stories do arise, you need newsgathering muscle, not gum flapping. Activist Sharpton can’t do what Brian Williams does, and the more Maddow and Chris Matthews pontificate, the farther they get from being able to present news events in an objective fashion. Who is the face of MSNBC should terrorism cripple a major American city?
MSNBC has woven a grand tapestry. But it should never forget that there are times when a news network simply has to stick to its knitting.
Even Brian Williams has slipped a bit, losing to Diane Sawyer for the first time in 243 weeks.