MSNBC is one of the most watched News stations in America. It’s audience continues to grow at a consistent rate year after year. Recently, MSNBC has periodically overtaken Fox News and CNN and earned the top spot in the Nielsen ratings.
MSNBC was first launched on July 15, 1996. 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. MSNBC and Microsoft would share the cost of a $200 million newsroom in Secaucus, New Jersey, for msnbc.com.
The first show on MSNBC was anchored by Jodi Applegate and broadcast a lineup of news, interviews, and opinions. 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. Originally, 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. Gradually, MSNBC began to put more emphasis on politics.
Although MSNBC currently has the third highest Neilsen ratings as a news channel behind Fox News and CNN, MSNBC is consistently growing its audience and has recently taking the top spot several times.
Some right-leaning critics have described MSNBC as having left-leaning politics and a public support for the Democratic Party. Back In November 2007, a New York Times article stated that MSNBC’s prime-time lineup is tilting more to the left. 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” (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.” That same year, Politico referred to MSNBC as “left-leaning.” In reference to changes in the channel’s evening programming, senior vice president of NBC News Phil Griffin has said that “it happened naturally.
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). 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”.
Following the 2008 presidential election, conservative talk show host John Ziegler worked on a documentary titled 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.
In January 2017, MSNBC debuted a new program in the 6 pm EST hour entitled For the Record with Greta. The program is hosted by former Fox News Channel anchor Greta Van Susteren. The program lasted just over 6 months and was cancelled in late June 2017. Van Susteren was replaced by Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber.
In March 2017, MSNBC slowly began the process of rebranding (at least their daytime news hours) as “NBC News” programs. The network logos started appearing on show opens, within the set design, and in commercials.
In May 2017, MSNBC launched a 4pm afternoon program titled Deadline: White House hosted by former White House Communications Director and NBC Political Analyst, Nicolle Wallace.
For the first time in its history, MSNBC reached the first place position in primetime among the major American cable news networks in May 2017. Following several stories widely viewed as negatively impacting President Donald Trump and his supporters, the rise to first place came amid a drop in ratings at competitor Fox News. The week’s programming from May 15–19 beat out programming from CNN and Fox News in both total viewers, as well as the advertiser-friendly younger demo.
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