The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Talent Search’ at MSNBC

Posted on | February 20, 2015 | 77 Comments

Two afternoon shows on MSNBC — Joy Reid at 1 p.m. ET and Ronan Farrow at 2 p.m. — were cancelled yesterday, and it looks like Chris Hayes will be the network’s next “star” to get the ax:

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.

That phrase “talent search” stuck out, like MSNBC president Phil Griffin is running a cable-news American Idol, with would-be anchors auditioning for their place in the lineup. In other words, Griffin seems to have the idea that on-air “talent” is the basic problem at his network, rather than the deliberate narrowness of its niche marketing strategy. If you’re a politics junkie who wants to see 24/7 TV coverage produced from the left-wing perspective of Daily Kos/Mother Jones/Talking Points Memo, then MSNBC is your network, regardless of the talking-head “talent” in front of the cameras. Unfortunately for Phil Griffin, that audience seems to max out at less than 800,000 (Rachel Maddow’s audience Wednesday was 774,000) and most of those viewers only watch a couple hours of programming daily.

No “talent search” can ever overcome that basic problem. Maybe you could bring back Keith Olbermann, but that’s it.



77 Responses to “‘Talent Search’ at MSNBC”

  1. K-Bob
    February 21st, 2015 @ 12:42 am

    That was a strange show. Archie was one of the bright spots. It was the Seventies, country music was struggling, and went through a leisure suit phase. It was horrible.

    They should bring it back with modern musicians, and let them play.

  2. Daniel Freeman
    February 21st, 2015 @ 12:47 am

    That’s where they substitute neutrality for objectivity, give up on seeking truth, and assume that if they get equal amounts of criticism from both sides then they hit their mark. That’s one of the reasons why I respect our host so much: he is clearly not chasing after that false idol of modern journalism.

  3. Steve Skubinna
    February 21st, 2015 @ 1:50 am

    And Brian Williams can come to MSNBC! It’s a win-win!

  4. Steve Skubinna
    February 21st, 2015 @ 1:56 am

    Is Howard Beale available? He might be able to start a turnaround.

    Who’s deep pockets are funding MSNBC? There must be a limit to how much they can burn through before somebody pulls the plug on them.

  5. wbkrebs
    February 21st, 2015 @ 5:42 am

    This is kind of the same problem Air America had. The Democrat party coalition is very diverse; they don’t all listen to (or watch) the same programs.

  6. wbkrebs
    February 21st, 2015 @ 5:48 am

    Two other possibilities:
    1. Militant hispanic advocate of amnesty and open borders.
    2. Marriage equality activist, to cheer on the Supreme Court.

  7. Dana
    February 21st, 2015 @ 11:26 am

    Whether blacks or Hispanics watch MSNBC or cable at all isn’t so much the question as is whether blacks or Hispanics are a preferred viewer demographic.

    The most important demographic is the people who have actual money to spend, and though nobody other than an [insert slang term for the rectum here] like me would actually say it in public, that means, to advertisers, white people. There certainly are middle-class blacks and Hispanics, but they make up afar smaller percentage of all blacks and Hispanics than is the case among whites. Soap operas have persisted for so long because their demographic is, primarily, housewives, women in families well enough off that the wife doesn’t have to work, and families in which the wife makes most of the purchases.

    For MSNBC, especially in the daytime, the potential audience is very small: the liberal audience to which they wish to appeal is less likely to be married, and less likely to not have to work during the day, and the ones who aren’t working during the day are too poor to be a desired demographic. And the potentially available audience is precisely that group of people MSNBC insults by saying that they are greedy racists.

  8. Dana
    February 21st, 2015 @ 11:27 am

    A face made for radio!

  9. Dana
    February 21st, 2015 @ 11:29 am

    It’s more than that: the people they are most interested in attracting are the people they slam the hardest: white people who have actually made enough money to spend on advertised products.

  10. Quartermaster
    February 21st, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

    I liked the show. I was living in the Nashville area at the time and had no idea that Country Music was struggling. Around there it seemed to be doing quite well. I admit my view of the time is provincial, but it’s hard not have that view when I was living at the center of the stuff.

    I hated going into Nashville when Fan Fair was going on. Too many outsiders flooding the place.

  11. Dana
    February 21st, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

    Call it karmic justice, that the socialism-promoting left are the victims of failure under capitalism.

  12. inexpensive
    February 21st, 2015 @ 4:20 pm


    ?Talent Search? at MSNBC : The Other McCain

  13. K-Bob
    February 21st, 2015 @ 4:32 pm

    Yeah, country sales were depressed in those days. The turtleneck shirt/leisure suit image just wasn’t catching on outside of the committed fan base. The Rat Pack guys were struggling then, as well, for the same reason. Like James Bond, they should have stuck with the tux.

    Alice Cooper and Led Zepplin were at the top of the charts, and country folks just recoiled from the pop culture. Despite Zep and Coop, musically, it was an ugly time, as far as I’m concerned (Muskrat Love was also a chart topper *shudder*).

    The whole feeling of desperation was exemplified by the fact that Bing Crosby did a version of “Hey Jude”.

    As the Al Jaffe art shown at the youtube cap shows, that song is like clowns in horror movies. It generates bad dreams.

    Some things just do not cross over well. It’s why Crystal Gayle led in country sales for a while: her music was kind of neutral, culturally. (Like the Muppet show.) It figures that she was sort of an inverse Kenny Rogers: started in country, then gave it up for pop.

    Once they got back to hardcore cowboy country imagery, openly embraced NASCAR and beer, and were unapologetic about pickup trucks and guns (and girls in halter tops), and then added heavy rock bass lines and a killer kick drum, country music was back on top, and even led rock, urban, and pop.

  14. Quartermaster
    February 21st, 2015 @ 5:58 pm

    I remember watching the TV Special when Bing did “Hey Jude.” Didn’t bother me as I hated the song anyway. Bing seemed to have put the song to a less than merciful death, which it richly deserved.

  15. thrasymachus02
    February 21st, 2015 @ 7:44 pm

    My dad is a New Deal liberal, and used to watch it every afternoon, but couldn’t take it any more.

  16. K-Bob
    February 21st, 2015 @ 10:10 pm

    Maynard Ferguson on the other hand, did a decent job with it. You had to be Maynard to play it, though. The only other guy I’ve ever heard who could pull it off is Eric Miyashiro.

  17. From Around the Blogroll | The First Street Journal.
    February 21st, 2015 @ 10:15 pm

    […] Stacey Stacy McCain on The Other McCain: ‘Talent Search’ at MSNBC How surprising: the liberal network is cancelling shows because they don’t attract enough […]

  18. theoldsargesays
    February 21st, 2015 @ 11:18 pm

    They going to air reruns of Lockup?

  19. theoldsargesays
    February 21st, 2015 @ 11:24 pm

    Half right.
    While Brian Williams style of “reporting” fits nicely with the MSNBC brand, Ronan Farrow is just too much of a little girl.
    Rachel Maddow, on the other hand, might be the mam for the job.

  20. theoldsargesays
    February 21st, 2015 @ 11:25 pm

    Where do you find this stuff?

  21. theoldsargesays
    February 21st, 2015 @ 11:32 pm

    It’s not fair to lump them all together as a crop of losers. Each is quite a loser on their own.
    Ensemble of losers would be a better way of putting it IMO.

  22. theoldsargesays
    February 21st, 2015 @ 11:48 pm

    And playing clips from Fox News. I swear that half of these clowns shows are taken up with talking about FNC and backing it up with video. FNC should demand royalties from MSNBC.

  23. theoldsargesays
    February 21st, 2015 @ 11:52 pm

    Wonder if any black “talent” need apply as Obama fades into the twilight.
    Seriously- All Sharpton, Joy Reid, Melissa Harris-Perry….if not for Obama being in office would these people even be on TV?

  24. theoldsargesays
    February 21st, 2015 @ 11:55 pm

    Shut. Up.
    (don’t give them any ideas that might keep them afloat longer than their current rate of decline indicates)

  25. theoldsargesays
    February 22nd, 2015 @ 12:00 am

    Ironically, RITZ crackers is a sponsor of All Sharptons show.
    ( I realize those are the type of deep pockets you were speaking of but I couldn’t resist pointing out the irony)

  26. Robert What?
    February 22nd, 2015 @ 8:23 pm

    They need the “talent”. It is the job of the “talent” to get viewers to ignore the dull throbbing between their temples when they watch.

  27. Squid Hunt
    February 22nd, 2015 @ 10:17 pm

    I didn’t even think about the militant hispanics. You may be right.