Keith Olbermann Says Good-Bye
by Tom Donelson on January 25, 2011 at 9:28 AM
Keith Olbermann has left MSNBC and there are more than enough rumors of why, but now MSNBC finds itself with an evening featuring the young Cenk Uygur taking over the Ed Schultz slot, who moved to the 10 pm slot following Rachel Maddow. Larry O’ Donnell takes over the Olbermanm slot. Why Olbermann left, who knows and quite frankly, who cares.
For the moment, MSNBC will continue their take no prisoners style of attacking conservatives and generally obnoxious punditry built around expounding upon the latest leftist creed. So nothing will change in the near term as MSNBC has decided to be the network for the left and to leave the rest to Fox News.
MSNBC is exactly what much of the left considers Fox, strictly bias and built in the image of Olbermann. In 2004, MSNBC made a decision and shifted to the left and attacked Bush. This strategy allowed MSNBC to catch CNN as the leftist alternative to Fox and Olbermann became the face of NBC news, sending what was once a proud news network straight into the toilet.
The reality is that evening MSNBC jettisoned any straight news unlike CNN or Fox, and on the weekend, MSNBC became the network of chasing perverts and a tour of all Federal penitentiaries. While CNBC continued its straight coverage of business news and Brian Williams continued the pretence of being the straight news man on the main network, MSNBC decided that the future was being one editorial after another.
While MSNBC became the number two cable news network, they still ran behind Fox, but after 2008, Fox took off by simultaneously following two strategies; combining straight news with edgy hosts. While MSNBC depended upon being edgy all the time, Fox executives saw the value of being a complete news network and added punch to its business coverage to challenge CNBC.
Fox's strategy became obvious when they hired key reporters from other stations beginning with Glenn Beck from Headline News followed with other significant names. The past months, Fox made Juan Williams, noted liberal pundit, a millionaire when he was fired by NPR and most recently, hired John Roberts from CNN to boast an already strong group of reporters.
CNN, whose reputation was being the straight shooter, covered up their liberal bias but at least there was an attempt to be balanced and over the past year, strengthened their conservative pundit staff when they hired Erik Erickson of Red State. In an attempt to copy Fox, CNN teamed Kathleen Parker with Elliot Spitzer but so far, this has failed and Piers Morgan is still running behind Sean Hannity. As Bill O’ Reilly quipped about his CNN competitors, “They are boring.” (It should be pointed out that CNN has used Headline News Network for its more edgy talk shows. With noted leftist Joy Behar and feisty legal reporter Nancy Grace, Headline News features it own version of controversial programs but their ratings often fall behind the other networks.)
For MSNBC, they are trapped for they have decided to attract a rabid group who will desert at the first evidence of moderation but they can no longer fully grow market share since they are merely captive of one ideology and can’t escape their own game plan. They made short gains between 2004 and 2008 but now they are rapidly falling further behind Fox. Without Olbermann, whose larger than life personality at least attracted attention, they now have personalities that have done little to make dents. Larry O’Donnell and Ed Schultz have all of Olbermann’s flaws including a general hatred for much of America (which means those of us who don’t vote for Obama and the rest who regret their vote) but not his talent. Somehow, one will have a hard time imagining O’Donnell holding on Olbermann’s audience but MSNBC is hoping that simply the left will tune in simply because they have no other place to hear their views validated day in and day out.
As for Fox, they have established their brand as a solid news program combined with solid personalities. While many critics dismissed Fox as a mere creation of the right, the reality is that they have surpassed CNN in news gathering and now competes with the major news network for audiences share. It could be said that more independents and Democrats watch Fox as watch either CNN or MSNBC. Their niche audience is much of America.