MSNBC Falling Behind CNN in Ratings Race

MSNBC Falling Behind CNN in Ratings Race

Just ahead of the midterm elections, MSNBC, the station dedicated to pushing the Obama agenda, is falling far behind in the ratings.

In 2010 MSNBC deployed the slogan “Lean Forward” to describe in concise terms what its liberal agenda would mean to viewers. But by 2014 that slogan seems overly optimistic when compared to the liberal network’s sliding ratings.

For years MSNBC had lingered in third place behind cable news leader Fox News and long-time news network CNN. But during 2012 and 2013 MSNBC frequently jumped ahead of CNN in the cable ratings game. Today it seems that frequent surging is a thing of the past.

Even the liberal network’s star, Rachel Maddow, has just posted her worst ratings ever. None of the other network’s shows are doing any better.

“Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s signature morning program, scored its second-lowest quarterly ratings, reaching an average of just 87,000 viewers in the key news demographic group.

And “Ronan Farrow Daily,” the network’s heavily promoted new afternoon show, which stars a 26-year-old Rhodes Scholar with a high-profile Hollywood lineage, has been largely a dud.

It is well known in the industry that MSNBC frequently loses ratings ground when large national or international stories break. It seems that even fans of the liberal network understand that breaking news is not MSNBC’s forte; partisanship is.

As The New York Times noted, “In the past, MSNBC’s ratings have typically fallen during times of intensely followed major news events. The current period is awash in them, with stories like ISIS and Ebola commanding a high degree of international reporting. This plays well to CNN’s strengths.”

The Times also points out that the left-wing network is predictable. An executive with the network who wanted to stay anonymous told the paper, “In terms of Rachel, everybody knows every night what she’s going to say. The network just doesn’t surprise you.”

With its fall from frequent ratings success, that constant sameness may be taking its toll even among fans.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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