MSNBC Rolls the Dice
MSNBC is hitting back at charges (considered by some a bit thin) that their morning hosts are in the tank for Trump . By scheduling a surprise prime time Trump town hall, moderated by Joe and Mika, directly opposite CNN’s GOP town hall, MSNBC is doing more than just serving up payback to CNN. This is also a middle finger to CNN town hallers Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, two sitting Senators bigfooted by Joe and Mika’s audacious counter-programming stunt. MSNBC is betting their new best friend Trump wins the nomination, thereby making him titular head of the Republican Party. That would give the long-time “liberal” network an entré it has lacked into GOP respectability, aiding their attempts to build up fairness cred. And if Trump and Fox News are still at war, even a cold one, that might give MSNBC some extra leverage in bookings and the like.
Of course Trump might not get the nomination, and then MSNBC will have pissed off just about every GOP candidate except Donald Trump. That would only further isolate MSNBC from the GOP establishment. They’re out on a limb here, and that’s a precarious spot to be rolling the dice. Especially if they aren’t loaded in your favor.
Last week TCG noted that, while CNN had a substantial lead over MSNBC in the morning show wars, their full-page ad was a bit over the top. Given how far away their second-place finish stood vs. the AM winner Fox & Friends, bragging about being #2 was ill-advised and desperate. Now that another week has passed, nothing much has changed. Here are the average Monday-Thursday ratings in the 25-54 demographic for this week (from TV by the Numbers):
- Fox & Friends: 249,000
- New Day: 141,000
- Morning Joe: 87,000
Fox’s A-team wasn’t intact on Monday and yet they still topped CNN and MSNBC combined for the week. Not much new there. By the way, CNN couldn’t beat out Morning Express on their sister network HLN (153,000 viewers). So that full-page ad buy is now looking even more rash.
But Morning Joe? Clearly this show is on life support. John Gibson used to call him “Scratch” Scarborough (the nickname being the Nielsen term for viewership too low to report), and he’s approaching that territory again. Tinkering with the last half hour isn’t going to make Joe any less pretentious or Mika any more likable. Morning sickness has set in, and it looks to be terminal. When it finally goes, very few will be mourning Joe.