MSNBC

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msnbc
MSNBC 2008 logo.svg
LaunchedJuly 15, 1996
Owned byNBCUniversal
Picture format480i (4:3 SDTV, becomes letterboxed during major political events)
1080i (16:9 HDTV)[1]
Slogan"Lean Forward"[2]
"The Place For Politics"[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Broadcast areaUnited States
Canada
Headquarters30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York City
Formerly calledAmerica's Talking (1994–1996)
Sister channel(s)CNBC
CNBC World
NBC
The Weather Channel
NBC Sports Network
E!
Style Network
Golf Channel
Websitetv.msnbc.com
Availability
Terrestrial
Selective TV Inc.
(Alexandria, MN)
K57JX (Channel 57)
WPXW-TV
(Manassas, Virginia)
Mobile-DTV Channel 66.4
MSNBC
(Berlin, Germany)
DVB-T Channel 23
Satellite
DirecTV (US)356 (HD/SD)
Dish Network (US)209 (HD/SD)
Bell TV (Canada)1588 (HD)
Shaw Direct (Canada)511
Cable
Available on most cable systemsCheck local listings
Satellite radio
XM117[4]
Sirius117[4]
IPTV
AT&T U-verse (US)1215 (HD)
215 (SD)
Bell Aliant TV (Canada)243 (SD)
Bell Fibe TV (Canada)1506 (HD)
TELUS TV (Canada)97
Verizon FiOS (US)603 (HD)
103 (SD)
Internet television
RadixTV22[5]
 
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msnbc
MSNBC 2008 logo.svg
LaunchedJuly 15, 1996
Owned byNBCUniversal
Picture format480i (4:3 SDTV, becomes letterboxed during major political events)
1080i (16:9 HDTV)[1]
Slogan"Lean Forward"[2]
"The Place For Politics"[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Broadcast areaUnited States
Canada
Headquarters30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York City
Formerly calledAmerica's Talking (1994–1996)
Sister channel(s)CNBC
CNBC World
NBC
The Weather Channel
NBC Sports Network
E!
Style Network
Golf Channel
Websitetv.msnbc.com
Availability
Terrestrial
Selective TV Inc.
(Alexandria, MN)
K57JX (Channel 57)
WPXW-TV
(Manassas, Virginia)
Mobile-DTV Channel 66.4
MSNBC
(Berlin, Germany)
DVB-T Channel 23
Satellite
DirecTV (US)356 (HD/SD)
Dish Network (US)209 (HD/SD)
Bell TV (Canada)1588 (HD)
Shaw Direct (Canada)511
Cable
Available on most cable systemsCheck local listings
Satellite radio
XM117[4]
Sirius117[4]
IPTV
AT&T U-verse (US)1215 (HD)
215 (SD)
Bell Aliant TV (Canada)243 (SD)
Bell Fibe TV (Canada)1506 (HD)
TELUS TV (Canada)97
Verizon FiOS (US)603 (HD)
103 (SD)
Internet television
RadixTV22[5]
Former NBC logo used from 1996 until 2006. This variant has occasionally been used after 2006 as an alternate logo.

MSNBC (stylized as msnbc) is a cable news and information channel based in the United States available in the US, Europe, South Africa, the Middle East and Canada. Its name was derived from the most common abbreviations for Microsoft and the National Broadcasting Company.[6]

MSNBC and msnbc.com were founded in 1996 as partnerships of Microsoft and General Electric's NBC unit, which is now NBCUniversal.[7] The online partnership of msnbc.com ended on July 16, 2012 and the site was rebranded as NBCNews.com.[8] MSNBC shares the NBC logo of a rainbow peacock with its sister channels NBC, CNBC, NBC Sports Network, and ShopNBC.

Beginning in the mid-2000s, MSNBC assumed an increasingly progressive stance in its opinion programming. In October 2010, it publicly acknowledged this with a marketing campaign it called "Lean Forward".[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

Contents

Development

MSNBC was established by NBC executive Tom Rogers. Rogers was instrumental in developing the strategic partnership with Microsoft, which invested $221 million for a 50% share of the cable channel.[17] MSNBC and Microsoft would share the cost of a $200 million newsroom in Secaucus, New Jersey, for msnbc.com. NBC supplied the space with an 18-month-old America's Talking network.

Early history

MSNBC was launched on July 15, 1996. The first show, which was anchored by Jodi Applegate, broadcast a lineup of news, interviews, and opinions.[18] During the day, rolling news coverage continued with The Contributors, a show that featured Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham, as well as interactive programming coordinated by Applegate, John Gibson, and John Seigenthaler. Stories were generally longer and more detailed than the stories running on CNN at the time. NBC also highlighted their broadcast connections by airing stories direct from the NBC network affiliates, along with breaking news coverage from the same sources.[19]

Gradually MSNBC began to put more emphasis on politics[20] The Project for Excellence in Journalism found in 2007 after a seven year survey of cable channels that "MSNBC is moving to make politics a brand, with a large dose of opinion and personality."[21] In January 2001, Mike Barnicle got a show on MSNBC, but it was canceled in June 2001 due to high production costs.[22] In June, in a sign of continuing trouble at MSNBC, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that he would not have started MSNBC if he knew then what he knows now.[23] After the September 11, 2001 attacks, MSNBC served as an outlet for NBC News to provide up-to-the-minute coverage, in contrast to broadcast NBC's longer stories. CNBC and CNBC Europe, with little financial news to report, ran MSNBC for many hours of the day following the attacks. The year also boosted the profile of Ashleigh Banfield, who had escaped injury while covering the World Trade Center on September 11. Her Region In Conflict program capitalized on her newfound celebrity and showcased exclusive interviews from Afghanistan.

On December 23, 2005, it was announced that NBC Universal would acquire an additional 32% share of the television channel from Microsoft, solidifying its control over television operations and allowing NBC to further consolidate MSNBC's backroom operations with NBC News and its other cable properties. Msnbc.com (the website was a separate corporate entity from the television channel) would continue to be 50% owned by both NBC and Microsoft, and its operations would be largely unaffected. NBC would have the option, which it exercised, to buy the remaining 18% share of the television from Microsoft after two years. MSNBC, which along with other US news networks had been criticized of having a distorted and biased Media coverage of the Iraq War. The network began from 2005 onward to attract liberal and progressive viewers when host Keith Olbermann began critiquing and satirizing conservative media commentators in his program Countdown With Keith Olbermann. Olbermann especially focused his attention to Fox News Channel and its main primetime commentator, Bill O'Reilly.

In June 2006, Don Kaplan of the tabloid New York Post (owned by News Corporation, which also owns Fox News) wrote a column titled "Do We Need MSNBC?" Addressing MSNBC'S low ratings, Kaplan quoted CNN co-founder Reese Schonfeld, who said that "[e]verybody compares MSNBC to Fox and CNN — when its real competition is Headline News". Schonfeld pointed out that the ratings for MSNBC and Headline News are roughly the same, about 300,000 viewers on average and that "by comparison, Fox and CNN regularly average three or four times as many viewers." In the column Kaplan remarked that "the running joke in TV news is Fox and CNN are news channels with websites, but MSNBC is a website with a cable channel".[24] On June 7, 2006, Rick Kaplan resigned as president of MSNBC, after holding the post for two years.[25] Following the announcement, it was announced on June 12, 2006, that Dan Abrams, a nine-year veteran of MSNBC and NBC News, had been named General Manager of MSNBC, effective immediately. NBC News Senior Vice President Phil Griffin would oversee MSNBC. Griffin would also continue to oversee NBC News’ Today, and Abrams would report to Griffin.

On June 29, 2006, Abrams announced a revamp to MSNBC's early-primetime and primetime schedule. On July 10, Tucker (formerly The Situation with Tucker Carlson) started airing at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET (taking over Abrams' old timeslot), while Rita Cosby's Live & Direct was taken off the schedule. Cosby was instead given the role of primary anchor for MSNBC Investigates at 10 and 11 p.m. ET, a new program that took over Cosby and Carlson's timeslots. According to the press release, MSNBC Investigates promised to "...complement MSNBC's existing programming by building on [the channel's] library of award winning documentaries."[26] The move to taped programming during 10 and 11 p.m. was likely a result of the success that MSNBC saw with their Friday "experiment" of replacing all primetime programming with taped specials. On September 24, 2007, Abrams announced that he would leave the position of General Manager to focus on his 9:00 p.m. ET talk show, "Live With Dan Abrams". Oversight of MSNBC is now provided by Phil Griffin, a senior vice president at NBC.[27]

MSNBC's current studio in NYC
The current MSNBC studio

MSNBC and NBC News launched broadcasts from their new studios at NBC's "30 Rock" complex in New York City on October 22, 2007.[28] After extensive renovations of the associated studios, NBC essentially merged its entire news operation into one building, and all MSNBC broadcasts, as well as the NBC Nightly News program, originate in the new studios. More than 12.5 hours of live television across the NBC News family originate from the New York studios daily. MSNBC is also expected to expand West Coast operations, as the channel recently[when?] announced new studios near the Universal Studios lot, which will assemble all NBC West Coast news operations in one building. MSNBC's Master Control did not make the move to 30 Rock. It remained in the old Secaucus headquarters until it completed its move to the NBC Universal Network Origination Center located inside the CNBC Global Headquarters building in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, on December 21, 2007. Shortly thereafter, Major League Baseball firmed up a long-term lease of the former MSNBC building to become the home studios of MLB Network, which launched from the facility on January 1, 2009.

Changes since 2008

From mid-2007 to mid-2008, MSNBC received a large increase in its ratings.[29] Primetime viewings increased by 61% over that time.[29] In May 2008, NBC News President Steve Capus said that "It used to be people didn't have to worry about MSNBC because it was an also-ran cable channel.... That's not the case anymore."[29] Tim Russert's sudden death in June 2008 removed what The Wall Street Journal called the "rudder for the network" and led to a period of transition.[30]

During the 2008 Presidential election, MSNBC's coverage was anchored by Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and David Gregory. The three were widely viewed as the face of the channel's political coverage.[30] During the first three months of the presidential campaign, MSNBC's ratings grew by 158 percent.[31] However, during the election coverage, anchors Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews were criticized for expressing left-leaning viewpoints on the channel, and both of them were later removed from the position of anchor.[32] Audience viewership during the 2008 Presidential election more than doubled from the 2004 Presidential election, and the channel topped CNN in ratings for the first time during the last three months of the campaign in the key 25-54 age demographic.[33][34]

In September 2008, the channel hired political analyst and Air America Radio personality Rachel Maddow to host a new political opinion program called The Rachel Maddow Show. The move to create a new program for the channel was widely seen as a smart ratings move, where beforehand, MSNBC lagged behind in coveted primetime ratings.[35] The show regularly outperformed CNN's Larry King Live, and made the channel competitive in the program's time slot for the first time in over a decade.[36][37]

In the first quarter of 2010, MSNBC beat CNN in primetime and overall ratings, marking the first time doing so since 2001.[38] The channel also beat CNN in total adult viewers in March, marking the seventh out of the past eight months MSNBC achieved that result.[38] In addition, the programs Morning Joe, The Ed Show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and The Rachel Maddow Show all finished ahead of their time slot competitors on CNN.[38]

In the third quarter of 2010, MSNBC continued its solid lead over CNN, beating the network in total day for the first time since 2Q 2001 in the key adult demographic.[39] The network also beat CNN for the fourth consecutive quarter, among both primetime and total viewers, as well as becoming the only cable news network to have its key adult demographic viewership grow over the last quarter, increasing by 4%. During this time, MSNBC also became the number-one cable news network in primetime among both African American and Hispanic viewers.[39]

On 11 October 2010, MSNBC unveiled a new televised advertising campaign and slogan called "Lean Forward". "We've taken on CNN and we beat them," MSNBC President Phil Griffin told employees at a series of celebratory "town hall" meetings. "Now it's time to take on Fox." Concerning the campaign, Griffin said, "It is active, it is positive, it is about making tomorrow better than today, a discussion about politics and the actions and passions of our time."[40] The new campaign embraces the network's politically progressive identity.[41] The two-year advertising campaign will cost $2 million and will consist of Internet, television, and print advertising.[40] The new positioning has created brand image issues for msnbc.com, the umbrella website for the television network. A New York Times article quotes Charlie Tillinghast, president of msnbc.com, a separate company, as saying, “Both strategies are fine, but naming them the same thing is brand insanity.”[42] As a result, msnbc.com is considering changing its name to prevent confusion with the television network, MSNBC.[42]

On January 21, 2011, Olbermann announced his departure from MSNBC and the episode would be the final episode of Countdown.[43][44] His departure received much media attention.[45][46][47] MSNBC issued a statement that it had ended its contract with Olbermann, with no further explanation. Keith Olbermann later revealed that he had taken his show to Current TV.[48]

Carriage issues

MSNBC's former New Jersey headquarters studio, now the home of MLB Network

Prior to 2010, MSNBC was not available to Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse TV subscribers in portions of New York, northern New Jersey, and Connecticut that overlapped Cablevision's territory. One of several reasons for this lack of availability was an exclusive carriage agreement between MSNBC and Cablevision which prohibited competing wired providers from carrying MSNBC.[49] The terms of the agreement were not publicly known.

In 2009, Verizon petitioned the FCC with a formal "program-access complaint" to terminate the deal. Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal also argued that the arrangement could be illegal.[50] After reaching a new contract, FiOS added the channel in New York City and in New Jersey on February 2, 2010.[51]

High Definition

MSNBC HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast of MSNBC that launched on June 29, 2009. All studio shows and select long form programs air in HD.[52]

Cablevision was the only provider to carry MSNBC HD at its launch date.[53] Dish Network added the HD channel on July 8.[54] Time Warner Cable launched the HD feed on July 22 in the New York area.[54] The feed was made available in late July in Ithaca, NY on Time Warner. Bright House Networks added the HD feed in July.[55] Verizon FiOS added MSNBC HD on February 11, 2010.[56] DirecTV added the HD channel on May 19, 2010.

Comcast has also added MSNBC HD in several markets,[citation needed] though this seems to be on a market-to-market addition in which they add the channel one market at a time instead of adding the channel to all markets in one move, leaving some customers (e.g. in Virginia) still without access.

Charter Communications has launched MSNBC HD in numerous markets.

In Canada, Bell TV and Bell FibeTV are currently offering MSNBC HD.

Graphics

Between 2006 and 2009, MSNBC used a graphics package with an angular motif.

On June 29, 2009, MSNBC officially launched a new graphic scheme co-created by Adam Gault Studios and Carlo Vega, whereby a newly redesigned MSNBC logo, current series title, time, stocks number and (when necessary) "live" bug were moved to the top of the screen, leaving the lower thirds to be used by the news ticker, story title and short summary, the last of which is replaced frequently by the name of the guest or correspondent currently being shown. For a short time in 2009 from the debut, MSNBC HD daytime included a widget on the right side of the screen which served as a secondary news ticker displaying the weather and news headlines as well as a blue bar which showed more stocks and business news graphics, but both features were eventually dropped in favor of full video encompassing both sides of the screen; the widget reflected a similar widget which appears on CNBC HD for the display of a stocks graph chart (and which has been retained to the present day). The news ticker only appears during news bulletins and rolling-news broadcasts, and is removed from the screen during opinion shows and documentaries. Some programs, such as The Ed Show, and NOW with Alex Wagner remove the ticker in favor of a "tweet ticker", showing comments being made about the subject at hand by users of the social networking site, Twitter.

International broadcasts

The monitors of the MSNBC newsroom are tuned in to various global channels.

MSNBC is shown only in the United States, Canada, South Africa,Kenya, parts of Latin America, and parts of Northern Africa (see below).

MSNBC Canada

In 2001, a Canadian version with some local content, MSNBC Canada, was developed; however, it was soon discontinued in 2004, and the American version began airing in Canada. The channel was operated by Rogers Communications and co-owned by Rogers, Shaw and MSNBC, with each party owned a 33.33% voting interest in the service. The channel launched on September 7, 2001.

Programming included MSNBC programs as well as repeats of shows from the CBC and Cable Public Affairs Channel, as its way to fulfil its Canadian content requirements. They also ran infomercials, which the American service never shows.

MSNBC Africa

In Southern Africa, MSNBC is distributed free-to-air on satellite on Free2View TV as MSNBC Africa, a joint venture between Great Media Limited and MSNBC. Free2View airs MSNBC's programming from 4 p.m. to midnight ET in a block that repeats twice (live for the first airing), with local Weather Channel forecasts.[57] Botswana's national television broadcaster, BTV, also provides an un-edited broadcast of MSNBC (including advertisements) after their scheduled programming each evening. BTV is available within Botswana, as well as to Southern Africa viewers on DStv. TopTV, a satellite TV service in South Africa, also provides an un-edited broadcast of MSNBC (including advertisements), which runs throughout the day (24/7). It is also available in Kenya through the cable service Zuku.

Europe and Asia

In Asia and Europe, MSNBC is not shown on a channel of its own. When MSNBC started in 1996 they announced plans to start broadcasting in Europe during 1997. This never happened; however, MSNBC is shown for a few hours a day on the 24 hour news network OSN News in Europe and the Middle East. OSN News is a network of three 24 hour satellite and cable channels offering exclusively American news programming from ABC, NBC, PBS, and MSNBC to U.S. expats and other viewers abroad, primarily geared towards an audience in the Arab countries.

NBC Nightly News is shown on CNBC Europe at 00:30 CET.[58] During breaking news events, CNBC-e, MSNBC is also shown occasionally on affiliate channel CNBC Europe.[59]

NTV-MSNBC

In Turkey, NTV-MSNBC is the news channel of the Turkish broadcaster NTV Turkey. The channel is a joint partnership between the two, although very little Turkish content makes its way onto English MSNBC. English content on MSNBC is translated to Turkish.[60]

Online

MSNBC celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2006
NBCNews.com's main newsroom in Redmond, WA, 2007
NBCNews.com's newsroom in NYC, 2007

In July 2012, after NBCUniversal acquired Microsoft's fifty percent share in msnbc, it took full ownership of the msnbc name and both rebranded and redirected msnbc.com to NBCNews.com[61]. NBC relaunched MSNBC's online properties under a separately-designed Wordpress-based website at tv.msnbc.com in October 2012, with a focus upon video clips from MSNBC and opinion columns from hosts, correspondents and guests[62].

Unil 2012, MSNBC Online was hosted on msnbc.com, which is now rebranded as NBCNews.com (the online news outlet for the NBC News family), sharing space with network shows such as Today, NBC Nightly News, and Dateline NBC. According to Nielsen Online, NBCNews.com rose above Yahoo! News and CNN for the position of top news site from June 2008 through May 2009, measured by unique visitors in the U.S.[63]

Radio

The channel launched on XM Satellite Radio channel 120 and Sirius Satellite Radio channel 90 on April 12, 2010.[4] This is the second time MSNBC has been on satellite radio; the channel has been on XM before, but was subsequently dropped from the service on September 4, 2006.[64]

Programming

Current Regular Weekly Schedule
SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
MidnightMSNBC DocumentariesMSNBC DocumentariesThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow ShowMidnight
12:30a12:30a
1aThe Last Word with Lawrence O'DonnellThe Last Word with Lawrence O'DonnellThe Last Word with Lawrence O'DonnellThe Last Word with Lawrence O'DonnellThe Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell1a
1:30a1:30a
2aMeet the PressHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris Matthews2a
2:30a2:30a
3aMSNBC DocumentariesThe Ed ShowThe Ed ShowThe Ed ShowThe Ed ShowThe Ed Show3a
3:30a3:30a
4aMeet the PressThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow Show4a
4:30a4:30
5aFirst LookFirst LookFirst LookFirst LookFirst LookHardball Weekend5a
5:30aWay Too EarlyWay Too EarlyWay Too EarlyWay Too EarlyWay Too EarlyYour Business5:30a
6aMorning JoeMorning JoeMorning JoeMorning JoeMorning JoeThe Rachel Maddow Show6a
6:30a6:30a
7aHardball WeekendWeekends with Alex Witt7a
7:30aYour Business7:30a
8aUp with Chris HayesUp with Chris Hayes8a
8:30a8:30a
9aThe Daily RundownThe Daily RundownThe Daily RundownThe Daily RundownThe Daily Rundown9a
9:30a9:30a
10aMelissa Harris-PerryJansing & Co.Jansing & Co.Jansing & Co.Jansing & Co.Jansing & Co.Melissa Harris-Perry10a
10:30a10:30a
11aMSNBC LiveMSNBC LiveMSNBC LiveMSNBC LiveMSNBC Live11a
11:30a11:30a
MiddayWeekends with Alex WittNow with Alex WagnerNow with Alex WagnerNow with Alex WagnerNow with Alex WagnerNow with Alex WagnerWeekends with Alex WittMidday
12:30p12:30p
1pAndrea Mitchell ReportsAndrea Mitchell ReportsAndrea Mitchell ReportsAndrea Mitchell ReportsAndrea Mitchell Reports1p
1:30p1:30p
2pMeet the PressNewsNation with Tamron HallNewsNation with Tamron HallNewsNation with Tamron HallNewsNation with Tamron HallNewsNation with Tamron HallMSNBC Live2p
2:30p2:30p
3pMSNBC LiveThe CycleThe CycleThe CycleThe CycleThe Cycle3p
3:30p3:30p
4pMartin BashirMartin BashirMartin BashirMartin BashirMartin Bashir4p
4:30p4:30p
5pMSNBC DocumentariesHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris MatthewsMSNBC Documentaries5p
5:30p5:30p
6pPoliticsNation with Al SharptonPoliticsNation with Al SharptonPoliticsNation with Al SharptonPoliticsNation with Al SharptonPoliticsNation with Al Sharpton6p
6:30p6:30p
7pHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris MatthewsHardball with Chris Matthews7p
7:30p7:30p
8pThe Ed ShowThe Ed ShowThe Ed ShowThe Ed ShowThe Ed Show8p
8:30p8:30p
9pThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow ShowThe Rachel Maddow Show9p
9:30p9:30p
10pThe Last Word with Lawrence O'DonnellThe Last Word with Lawrence O'DonnellThe Last Word with Lawrence O'DonnellThe Last Word with Lawrence O'DonnellThe Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell10p
10:30p10:30p
11pThe Ed ShowThe Ed ShowThe Ed ShowThe Ed ShowThe Ed Show11p
11:30p11:30p
SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday

     Live or first-run programming      Live on special occasions, otherwise replay from 5p

Criticism and controversy

Assertions of liberal bias

Commentators have described MSNBC as having a bias towards left-leaning politics and the Democratic Party. In November 2007, a New York Times article stated that MSNBC's prime-time lineup is tilting more to the left.[9] Washington Post media analyst Howard Kurtz has stated that the channel's evening lineup "has clearly gravitated to the left in recent years and often seems to regard itself as the antithesis of Fox News"[29] (in reference to a number of journalists and political pundits considering Fox News to have a conservative bias in some programs). In 2011, Salon.com noted that "MSNBC’s prime-time lineup is now awash in progressive politics."[65] That same year, Politico referred to MSNBC as "left-leaning."[66] In reference to changes in the channel's evening programming, senior vice president of NBC News Phil Griffin has said that "it happened naturally. There isn't a dogma we're putting through. There is a 'Go for it.'"[9]

In the February 2008 issue of Men's Journal magazine, a MSNBC interviewee quoted a senior executive who said that liberal commentator Keith Olbermann "runs MSNBC" and that "because of his success, he's in charge" of the channel.[67] In 2007 The New York Times called Olbermann MSNBC's "most recognizable face".[9] In September 2008, MSNBC stated that they were removing both Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as live political event anchors, and replacing them with David Gregory, due to growing criticism that they were "too opinionated to be seen as neutral in the heat of the presidential campaign."[10][11] Olbermann continued to broadcast Countdown both before and after the presidential and vice-presidential debates, and both Matthews and Olbermann joined Gregory on the channel's election night coverage.

On November 13, 2009, in the days leading up to the release of 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's book Going Rogue, MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan used photoshopped pictures of Palin on the channel's Morning Meeting program. Ratigan apologized a few days later.[68]

In October 2010, MSNBC began using the tagline "lean forward", which was described by some media outlets, including msnbc.com, as the network embracing its politically progressive identity.[41][69][70][71]

In January 2012, MSNBC used Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and other network commentators during coverage of the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses, a move seen by Nando Di Fino of the Mediaite website as "giving up on the straight news coverage, and instead [appearing] to be aiming to create some controversy." [72]

Pro-Obama bias

Some Democratic Party supporters, most notably former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell and Clinton advisor Lanny Davis,[73] criticized MSNBC during and after the 2008 Democratic Primaries, as covering Barack Obama more favorably than Hillary Clinton. Rendell said, "MSNBC was the official network of the Obama campaign," and called their coverage "absolutely embarrassing."[74][75] Rendell later became an on-air contributor to MSNBC.[76]

A study done by the Project for Excellence in Journalism showed that MSNBC had less negative coverage of Obama (14% of stories vs. 29% in the press overall) and more negative stories about Republican presidential candidate John McCain (73% of its coverage vs. 57% in the press overall).[77] MSNBC's on-air slogan during the week of the 2008 presidential election, "The Power of Change", was criticized as being overtly similar to Obama's campaign slogan of "Hope and Change."[78] Following the 2008 presidential election, conservative talk-show host, John Ziegler worked on a documentary called Media Malpractice.... How Obama Got Elected, which was very critical of the media, especially MSNBC's role, in the 2008 Presidential Election. While promoting the documentary, he engaged in an on-air dispute with MSNBC news anchor Contessa Brewer, on how the media, especially MSNBC, had portrayed Sarah Palin.[79]

During MSNBC's coverage of the Potomac primary, MSNBC's Chris Matthews said, "I have to tell you, you know, it's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often. ” This led many on the right to assert that both he and MSNBC were biased toward Obama.[80]

Phil Donahue Iraq War dismissal

[Donahue presents a] difficult public face for NBC in a time of war...He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives.

—NBC internal study[81]

Phil Donahue's 2002 program Donahue was canceled in late February 2003 during the buildup to the Iraq War. Despite earlier claims of cancellation because of low ratings,[82] Donahue was MSNBC's highest rated show that month.[81]

A leaked NBC internal study revealed that the studio was concerned that Donahue would act as "a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity."[81]

Michael Savage dismissal

During the spring and early summer of 2003, MSNBC featured a weekend talk show hosted by conservative radio host Michael Savage. In July of that year, Savage responded to a prank caller on his show by calling him a "pig" and a "sodomite", and telling him he "should get AIDS and die." Savage's show was canceled and Savage was fired from the channel shortly afterward (with some reports placing the termination immediately after the episode in question went off air).[83]

Don Imus controversy

In early April 2007, Don Imus, whose radio show Imus in the Morning was simulcast on MSNBC, described members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team, as "some nappy-headed hoes." The comments sparked outrage, as many considered them to be racist and sexist. After sponsors began to withdraw advertisements from the show, MSNBC canceled the simulcast. Imus, as well as NBC News, apologized to the Rutgers Basketball team for the remarks.[84] Don Imus now has a feature show on the Fox Business Network.

"Rise of the New Right" documentary

In June 2010, a documentary airing on MSNBC and hosted by Chris Matthews called Rise of the New Right drew significant criticism from conservatives and the Tea Party movement. The documentary features interviews with Dick Armey, the former House Majority Leader, Orly Taitz, a leading figure in the "birther" movement, and radio host Alex Jones. The documentary also showed the Michigan Militia’s survival training camp and hit the campaign trail with Kentucky Senatorial candidate Rand Paul.[85]

After the documentary aired, FreedomWorks, which is chaired by one of the stars of the documentary, Dick Armey, issued a letter calling for a boycott of Dawn and Procter & Gamble, which advertises during Hardball with Chris Matthews.[86][87] The boycott was ineffective. Procter & Gamble continued to advertise with the show.

Suspensions of hosts: Olbermann's separation

On November 5, 2010, MSNBC President Phil Griffin suspended Olbermann indefinitely without pay for contributing $2,400 (the maximum personal donation limit) to each of three Democratic candidates during the 2010 midterm election cycle.[88] Contributions to political campaigns, under NBC News policy, are not allowed without prior permission. On November 7, 2010, Olbermann posted a thank you message to supporters via Twitter.[89] That same day, MSNBC announced that he would be back on the air starting Tuesday, November 9.[90]

Two weeks later, Griffin announced the suspension of Joe Scarborough for the same offense, as the Morning Joe host had donated $4,000 to Republican candidates in Florida. Like Olbermann's suspension, Scarborough's suspension was brief, and he returned to the airwaves on November 24.[91]

On January 21, 2011 MSNBC announced that Olbermann would host his final show that same night.

Bias against Romney and for Obama week before 2012 presidential election

A study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that MSNBC's coverage of Romney during the final week of the 2012 presidential campaign (68% negative with no positive stories in the sample), was far more negative than the overall press, and even more negative than it had been during October 1 to 28, when 5% was positive and 57% was negative.[92] On the other hand, their coverage of Obama improved in the final week before the presidential election. From October 1 to 28, 33% of stories were positive and 13% negative. During the campaign's final week, 51% of MSNBC's stories were positive while there were no negative stories at all about Obama in the sample.

References

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