MSNBC Well Served By Heading Left

Today's issue of The New York Times contains an interesting story on the recent successes of MSNBC, and BusinessInsider.com has a good run down under the headline "Turning Left Pays Off For MSNBC, NBC News".

Two years ago, MSNBC execs decided to turn the network more opinionated and politically leftward. It's paying off.

MSNBC is up from 341,000 daily viewers in February 2007 to 471,000 last month.

With MSNBC making up the biggest chunk, NBC News accounted for 13% of NBC Universal's profits, or $400 million in 2008.

Hopefully these numbers, as well as the favorable coverage linking MSNBC's leftward outreach, strengthen the chances of the network adding someone from the netroots like friend of MyDD Sam Seder to their staple of hosts weekday evenings. There's no assurance that the network heads will decide to continue with the strategy that has significantly increased their viewership in the past couple of years, mind you. But at least from this vantage it would seem to make sense to go with what works rather than not.

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LA Times on a Progressive Voice for MSNBC's 10 PM Hour

In today's Los Angeles Times, television correspondent Matea Gold takes up the more or less unprecedented movements to get someone from the world of progressive talk -- some working on behalf of Sam Seder, some working on behalf of The Young Turks -- on to MSNBC weeknights at 10:00 PM Eastern.

Television network executives looking for new talent are accustomed to getting pleas from agents urging them to check out their clients.

But in the last few weeks, MSNBC has experienced a different kind of onslaught: a flood of unsolicited endorsements from fans of liberal radio hosts touting them as the network's next potential big star.

[...]

At this point, the search for a new host is just an "aspiration," said [MSNBC President Phil] Griffin, noting that the network may not even select someone by the year's end. But he said he had been floored by the reaction, which has included "dozens and dozens of phone calls from people I never thought about or considered."

[...]

Indeed, the campaigns have Griffin's attention; he has the e-mails printed out and sifts through them. But he doesn't have a candidate in mind yet.

"One thing I know is that I don't know who it's going to be, so there's an opportunity there," he said. "I don't want the same old same old. I want something new and fresh and innovative."

This is a real positive development. In the end, the decision will be Phil Griffin's to make as the head of MSNBC. But the fact that he's hearing us is encouraging. Griffin notes in a portion of the article not quoted above, but which I'd recommend you reading in full, that there have been times in the past when the passing of a show from one host to another at the network "and nobody noticed."

People are noticing now, however. A large part of this, writes Gold (and I think she's right on the money), is the success of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, who have helped changed MSNBC from a network consistently pulling in fewer viewers than the other cable news outlets to one that now is truly competitive. But it's also the notion that the people watching programming should have some say in it. Kudos to Griffin for hearing these voices -- and even more kudos to him in the future if he listens to and follows these voices.

If you want to add your voice to the mix, head over to Facebook and join the efforts on behalf of Sam Seder and/or The Young Turks.

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Shuster Incorporating the Netroots

While we're hoping to see friend of MyDD Sam Seder get the newly open 10:00 PM Eastern slot on MSNBC (you can join the Facebook group supporting him to help out), it looks like the cable news network is already incorporating more of the netroots into their programming. Here's TV Newser:

David Shuster's "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" is looking to the Web. The anchor is now active on Twitter, and yesterday he revealed he would spend a segment on the program each night looking at what's being talked about on the "net."

But not just anywhere on the Web. "Every day at this time, we're going to bring you a key issue in the progressive blogosphere," said Shuster.

Last night's guest was Josh Marshall of TalkingPointsMemo.com, who talked about Sen. John McCain's stimulus plan credibility.

According to Shuster's Twitter feed, tonight's segment features Firedoglake.com founder Jane Hamsher.

This is a great development. For a long time, the right has had several outlets to help amplify conservative voices, not only on Fox News but also CNN, CNBC and elsewhere. It's about time that the left had an outlet to help resonate its voice, even if it is only for a few hours today (remember, MSNBC carries former conservative Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough for three hours a day). Miss Jane today? Check out her MSNBC hit:


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"Let Him Lead"

One of the important questions facing our community, as well as the broader progressive movement and even the Democratic Party as a whole, is the proper amount of faith and fealty to vest in Barack Obama. As much as there have been leaders within the Democratic Party this decade, there hasn't been a leader in quite some time -- and certainly not since that leader had the capacity to effect real change.

Over at Daily Kos, Markos makes a strong case for a healthy dollop of skepticism.

Conservatives trusted Bush, thus let them destroy their party. I don't think it's smart to go down that path. There will always be debates about how much criticism is actually warranted, and there's a fine line between constructive and destructive criticisms. [...] But the notion that Obama is beyond criticism?

It's not entirely clear to me that it was the trust Republicans placed in former President Bush that was their death-knell, or rather the fact that George W. Bush was clearly not worthy of having that much power (his decisions were neither good for his party nor the nation as a whole), but the point is a good one.

Yet where that line is to be drawn is an important one. For better or for worse, parties are more effective when they are more or less unified. The Democrats had the trifecta of the White House, the Senate and the House sixteen years ago at the outset of the Clinton administration, and although the conservative noise machine and the unified GOP opposition were key to blocking the Democrats from achieving what they hoped to achieve, Democratic bickering and infighting played no small part in the party's inability to move the agenda it had run and won on. So a real part of me lines up with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had the following to say in her interview with this site posted yesterday:

[E]njoy hope and let him lead. Let him fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people. We will do our best to work with him with our best thinking on how to get the job done for the American people. But give him a chance to lead. Give it time.

And I think make judgments at the end of a Congress, at the end of a term, but not on the day today, because he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He brings to it a great vision, a great intellect, great strategic thinking, and great points to speak to the American people and give them hope. But he needs to be able to do it effectively, and that takes some time.

This isn't to say that we should bite our tongues for two or even four years, because I don't think that's wise -- and I'm certain that's not what the Speaker was implying. But if at the same time we are unwilling to take the leap with President Obama, unwilling to give him the time and opportunity to try to get done what needs to get done, what we elected him to accomplish, it's going to be significantly more difficult to achieve what we have hoped and strived and worked to achieve.

So, yes, there is room for constructive criticism, and making our voices heard. But to me it makes much more sense to do it in a way that moves the ball forward, rather than slows down or even stops the ball in its tracks, because I want to see universal healthcare and an end to Don't Ask, Don't Tell and real tax reform and an end to the War in Iraq and a whole host of things that we will all need to come together in the end to make happen.

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Moran with the grassroots, McAuliffe with Wall Street...

T-Mac is at it again! On Inauguration night, Terry went fishing for the big bucks with Martha Stewart and other darlings of Wall Street. He also had plenty of time to spend with Ariana Huffington and the Hollywood A-List crowd, as well.  Of course, the netroots is keeping watch over this, which Mcauliffe seems oblivious about  - check out the coverage at Kos

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