By Brigitte L. Nacos
As the New York Times reported this morning, Dan Abrams, a "40-Year-Old Virgin Executive" without management experience will try to boost the rating ills of hapless MSNBC television. While working as legal analyst in the past, Abrams hosted more recently "The Abrams Show" at MSNBC and competed (albeit in another time slot) with Greta van Susteren on Fox News and Nancy Grace on CNN's Headline News in hyping up crime and trial cases into long-running soap operas. Seems that Greta and Nancy are proving more durable than Dan--unless he determines as new boss that he can manage MSNBC off the air and infotain on the air as well.
And how will he manage MSNBC into a better future?
It is understandable that NBC News President Steve Capus wants a new identity for the channel that lags in ratings behind Fox News and CNN. If rumors turn out to be right, only the future of prime time hosts Chris "Hardball" Matthews and Keith "Countdown" Olberman is secure--not of the likes of Rita Cosby, Joe Scarborough, and Tucker Carlton. Don't cry for any of them. But replacing talking heads with canned material during prime time, as is planned, will not do--certainly not by shifting more of the increasingly "soft" reports of "Dateline" from NBC News to MSNBC.
Abrams and his bosses should take a look at the Fox News channel that has higher ratings than the cable competition. In spite of its clever "fair and balanced" slogan, Rupert Murdoch's channel offers news and political talk from the conservative perspective. The people at Fox are good at what they are doing because, I am sure, they believe in what they present. That's why they beat the cable competition.
So--there is nothing wrong with Fox, the conservative channel. Except that there is no TV channel that offers the news and political talk from the liberal perspective. Contrary to the myth that conservatives keep alive, there is no liberal mainstream media.
So, why isn't there a distinct liberal cable channel as a counterpart to Fox News? You can be sure that MSNBC, in spite of its woes, will not be interested in changing this.Instead, according to the Times, the "Virgin Executive" wants to make day-time reports more "live and urgent, less newscasty."
Sounds like more hype and goodbye to the remnants of sound news even during day time. Who needs newscasts--let's hype "live and urgent" infotainment.