Sunday, The New York Times took notice of the collapse of MSNBC’s ratings — something Big Journalism has been covering with some interest for a while now. In the wake of Obama’s reelection, the conventional wisdom was that liberalism was on the rise, and therefore, MSNBC would surge and Fox News would drift. Just the opposite has happened, and liberals now feel a need to navel gaze.
The Times gets it mostly right. You can trace the fall of MSNBC directly to the mid-April terror attack at the Boston Marathon. People tuned out in droves and have stayed away in the wake of killer tornadoes, plant explosions, and a trifecta of scandals engulfing MSNBC’s very reason for being: President Barack Obama.
MSNBC president, Phil Griffin, who just a few months ago felt sure he could overtake Fox News (his network is now in fourth place out of four), has admitted to what the problem is: “We’re not the place for that,” said Phil Griffin, the channel’s president, in reference to covering breaking events as CNN does. “Our brand is not that.”
However, Griffin believes MSNBC can weather the busy news cycle and at the very least retake the lead over CNN once the world settles down. In other words, taking a cue from George W. Bush, Griffin has decided to “Stay the course.”
As we have written numerous times (and now MSNBC is pretty much confirming it), MSNBC simply can’t survive news cycles in which the American people are actually interested in getting The News. No one trusts MSNBC to give them the full story, and that appears to include even liberals. When the world is on fire, no one wants left-wing happy talk.
One Times source made the observation that, when Barack Obama is not winning news-cycles, his MSNBC fans tune out for the same reason a losing sports team can’t get people to tune in. There might be something to that, but Obama was doing just fine until a couple of weeks ago, when all these scandals seemed to hit at once. MSNBC’s troubles started the moment those twin bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
That doesn’t mean, though, that Obama’s troubles aren’t adding to MSNBC’s woes, and won’t continue to.
The left-wing network might clear $180 million a year, but my guess is that thatcomes from the fees the big networks receive from cable companies who forcetheir customers to purchase MSNBC (and a lot of other channels they never want) in cable packages — a businessmodel under fire in the age of Netflix Streaming.
MSNBC even admits that, unlike CNN and Fox, they don’t have the staff, resources, and correspondents to gather breaking news.
So there you have it: MSNBC is no longer a news channel.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC