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MSNBC Is Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place with Rev. Al (Demote Him or Let Him Go?)

MSNBC Is Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place with Rev. Al (Demote Him or Let Him Go?)

The fact of
the matter is simply that MSNBC is still struggling in the ratings. Even though
the network and CNN get the lion’s share of the demo watchers that advertisers highly covet – men and women between 25-54 – Fox News still
gets more viewers overall.

True, the
overwhelming majority of Fox News viewers are beer swilling, chain smoking, 69
year old, scared, pissed off white guys and older (actual fact; look it up), apparently there are enough of them still alive to make Fox News still the
most watched cable news channel.

Things are
so bad at MSNBC that it’s even losing more demo viewers to CNN, giving them the
advantage. And worse, last quarter in both day and primetime ratings, the
network hit its lowest quarterly levels in 10 years, and its lowest quarter of total
viewership since the last quarter of 2007.

Needless to
say, the network is desperate to stop the bleeding, and, according to Mediaite
(HERE) is looking to make some drastic changes.

A major
meeting is scheduled at the network this week to discuss what to do. Among plans rumored to be under serous consideration, is bringing back
the controversial Keith Olbermann who previously hosted his own show, “Countdown,” for 8 years on CNBC.

Though his
show was successful, the problem, as always with Obermann, is that he is a
notorious royal pain in the rectum to deal with, and that on literally every TV
gig he’s ever had – either with ESPN, MSBC or elsewhere – he’s wound up getting
fired because of constant run-ins with network execs.

And since
Olbermann is soon to be dumped from his current ESPN 2 show for the same old
reasons, and will be looking for a new home, will MSNBC be desperate enough to
hire him back? They both might need each other, and he will bring in ratings, so
the network just might bite the bullet and take the risk.

But, in another rumored potential move, MSNBC is also seriously considering cancelling their three least-watched
shows, which have been a drag on the network’s ratings.

First to go
could very well be Ed Schultz’s “The Ed Show,” which had been dumped by the network once
before, and then brought back for some mysterious reason. The other is “All In
with Chris Hayes,” which has been on the network for over two years now, and has
yet to make any kind of dent in terms of ratings.

His
show has two major problems: one being the fact that it goes up against “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox. The second is Hayes’ hyper, persnickety, aggressively nerdy “I’m smarter
than you and I always want you to know it” attitude, which I suspect turns a lot
of people off. He reminds me of that really annoying, smartass brat in
high school who always got his ass kicked.

So that
leaves us with the third problem show on MSNBC – and that is “Politics Nation with
the Rev. Al Sharpton.” And this is where the network has a problem.

Basically
Rev Al’s show has been a ratings disaster from the beginning, and normally would have
been cancelled a long time ago, but the network has kept it on. It’s not like
it’s such a great show. Rev Al ‘s hectoring, shouting
way of speaking, as if the viewers are in the next room, as well as his still not being able to figure out how to read a teleprompter, don’t help matters.

Yet his show
keeps keeping on. Why? One theory is that the network is afraid to incur Rev.
Al’s wrath, worried that they would get hounded with protests from angry viewers.
But if the ratings are so low, who’s watching it to even raise a protest?

Then there’s
the other factor, as in Bryon Allen’s $20 billion dollar lawsuit against MSNBC,
Comcast and Sharpton (which I wrote about in length HERE), in which Allen
accused the news network of giving Sharpton a show and a $750,000 yearly
salary as a sort of “Thank you” after Sharpton and his group – the
National Action Network – were paid more than $3.8 million in “donations”
for publicly supporting Comcast’s takeover of NBC, and not taking to task the
media giant that Allen and other black producers have
been essentially shut out by.

So getting
rid of his show could be rather difficult. There is the possibility of moving Sharpton’s show to weekend afternoons, which would be a
sort of demotion for Rev. Al. But there
is some question as to whether he would even accept that, and would likely cause some trouble
if the network forced him to do it.

So this is
where MSNBC stands right now. They have to make some changes quick in their
programming, which is understandable. But cancelling a show is hard. Who wants
to publicly admit that they made a mistake in giving so-and-so a show that was
never going to be successful?

But they
have to make some decisions soon, and that includes Rev. Al’s show. They really
can’t keep him, but they can’t really let him go.

What to do?
If I had to guess, I’ll say that they’ll move his show to weekends, and put a
positive spin on it. What do you say?

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