The good news is Ronan Farrow's awful MSNBC show is gone. The bad news is so is Joy-Ann Reid's show, and the Sword of Phil Griffin is set to fall on Chris Hayes, Al Sharpton and more as NBC's corporate master Comcast no longer wants to offend conservatives with pesky nonsense like "liberal opinions".
It was hardly a surprise Thursday when ratings-challenged MSNBC announced the cancellation of the poor-performing afternoon programs hosted by Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid after less than a year, with veteran news anchor Thomas Roberts stepping in to preside over the two-hour block from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Until a permanent replacement is named for Roberts’ 5:30 a.m. program Way Too Early, the 6 a.m. Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will temporarily take up the slack by starting a half-hour earlier.
But according to knowledgeable sources at the Comcast-owned cable network, Thursday’s moves were only the opening salvo in a wider programming shakeup.
In the relatively near term, two well-placed sources predicted to The Daily Beast, Chris Hayes will be relieved of his weak-performing 8 p.m. show All In,to be replaced by the current 9 p.m. host of The Rachel Maddow Show, while a talent search is underway to fill the prime-time slot to be vacated by Maddow.
An MSNBC spokesperson—who tried put a happy face on the demotions with talk of prime-time specials and “multiplatform” national reporting for the still-employed Farrow and Reid—declined to comment on the Hayes-Maddow scenario.
In the longer term, these sources said, the Rev. Al Sharpton—a larger-than-life personality who attracts a 35 percent African-American audience but continues, after 3½ years of nightly practice, to wrestle with his Teleprompter—could eventually be moved from his weeknight 6 p.m. slot to a weekend time period, as MNSBC President Phil Griffin attempts to reverse significant viewership slides by accentuating straight news over left-leaning opinion.
“Everybody in the food chain from top to bottom understands that the Olbermann era is over,” said an MSNBC source, referring to the glory days during George W. Bush’s administration when incendiary liberal Keith Olbermann regularly attracted a million viewers—many of them seeking refuge from White House and Republican talking points.
The MSNBC source said, “Going left was a brilliant strategy while it lasted and made hundreds of millions of dollars for Comcast, but now it doesn’t work anymore...The goal is to move away from left-wing TV.”
MSNBC had moved away from left-wing TV when they got rid of Olbermann and the cold hard fact is there's no place on the entirely of the cable spectrum for smart, nuanced news that a FOX News nation will tolerate.
Here's the bigger issue: TV news itself is all but dead. My generation is cutting the cable, and anyone younger than me doesn't watch TV news at all. Hell, I stopped watching Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow years ago, because I was sick of them entertaining guests who constantly attacked President Obama. Hell, Hayes should have never been moved from his "Up" time slot on weekend mornings.
We'll see what happens, but I get almost none of my news from cable TV anymore.
And here's a free hint, MSNBC. The real problem is Phil Griffin.