Thursday, July 23, 2015

Big Shake Up at MSNBC

Ed Schultz, from source, PoliticsUSA
I've been a regular watcher of MSNBC since Countdown with Keith Olbermann first caught fire, back during the dog days of the George W. Bush administration. After a several years-long honeymoon from the media on Bush, finally someone was on the teevee telling it like it was! It was refreshing. He was pretty much the only one.

For all the talk of "liberal media bias," I wonder how many people remember the climate after 9/11 and on through the beginnings of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It was a time of "Freedom Fries," and Dixie Chicks boycotts. Bill Maher being cancelled for being politically incorrect on Politically Incorrect. If you criticized Dubya, you could be met with, "Why do you hate America?" Freedom, liberty, patriot. . .all of these words were appropriated and practically trademarked by the GOP.

So yeah, Olbermann--bombastic as he was--was like a beacon of sanity in the middle of a surreal, conservative alternate reality that we somehow got sucked into. Eventually, the more popular Olbermann got, the more his network, MSNBC, came to take on more of his flavor. Rachel Maddow went from appearing sporadically on other shows to appearing regularly on Keith's show, to guest hosting, to her own show. And when Olbermann was shown the door, Rachel carried on, becoming the face of the network. I still watch her show, as is evidenced by her regular appearance on my blog.

Occasionally, you'll see other MSNBC clips here, but not too often. As Maddow spun off from Olbermann, so too did The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. I like him, but he's not "must see" viewing for me. Likewise, All In with Chris Hayes spun off from Maddow.  Hayes is drier, wonkier. He's good, but again, not appointment viewing. With each generation of cloning, the shows (beyond
See? No "News" in the name.
Rachel) seemed to lose something. And then MSNBC seemed to make the mistake of trying to clone its evening shows all over the schedule. It became almost entirely a politics and news commentary channel.

Actually, there is very little wrong with that concept. Unlike FOX "News"--who they are often and unfairly considered the mirror counterpart--MSNBC doesn't have "news" in its name. It doesn't bill itself as "fair and balanced." Its slogans are "lean forward" and "the place for politics." So, their political leanings are completely fine, or ought to be. The weak spot was ratings, and I believe that's because it became very much stuck in a rut. There is a sameness across the day, with similar guests, similar styles, similar sets, colors, music, hosts. When most of the shows have such interchangeable parts, nothing is appointment viewing anymore.

So, MSNBC is shaking things up, and jettisoning some of their daytime programming. The old heave-ho to Now with Alex Witt, to The Cycle (the landing ground for a handful of guests from other shows) and The Ed Schultz Show. In their place will be an attempt at NBC-style "hard news." None of these things make me sad. Except that some of it will be hosted by Chuck Todd, who I think is kind of a tool, and one with a bit of a conservative bent. Joining him will be Brian Williams, on his road to redemption. So, cool, we may have some better place to turn for actual news then we've had lately.

This, I'd love to see, but I kinda doubt it.
Also, goodbye Ed Schultz, I won't miss you most of all. If you'd taken Rev. Al with you, it wouldn't make me sad either (someone please tell Al he actually has a working microphone?). I've never, never cared for Ed, and thought he was a bad fit from day one. So, that's my favorite part of this news. Now, they'll probably follow these changes with more. I wouldn't be surprised to see Chris Hayes at least moved if not cancelled. O'Donnell could see the same, I suppose. Rachel Maddow is likely going nowhere, unless they move her up an hour. And who knows about Lockup. I'll never figure out why they still air that so often.

All in all, change is inevitable in television programing, even if we can tend to get used to our old favorites. FOX "News" had an unusually stable roster for most of its existence, but has seen a few shakeups in recent years. CNN is still wont to cancel and move stuff around. So I say great. Hope it works, hope it makes things better. Just don't mess with my Rachel, mmm'kay?

MSNBC Is Canceling Ed Schultz And Giving His Show To Chuck Todd
MSNBC is expected to announce that they are canceling Ed Schultz and giving his timeslot to Meet The Press host Chuck Todd. Mediaite is reporting that The Ed Show along with two other programs will be canceled. . .
Read more at: PoliticsUSA

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