MSNBC employees are worried the company will lose ‘big time’ if they change
msnbc The Post has learned that employees are panicking over the direction of the left-leaning news network under newly elected President Rashida Jones, fearing it is gearing up for a costly and potentially disastrous battle with CNN.
Employees say recent meetings with Jones and his boss, NBCUniversal news chief Cesar Condé, have focused on tough news — with the executive claiming a ratings victory on CNN. breaking stories, such as this summer’s congressional hearing January 6 Attack on the US Capitol.
It bothers some employees that MSNBC isn’t focusing its primetime lineup of opinion-focused shows enough to attract the most loyal audiences. The matter came to light last month when news leaked that Rachel Maddow, the star of the network, was negotiating a new contract and threatened to leave.
“Rashida’s love is in difficult news,” said an insider, pointing to MSNBC’s daytime news coverage and the executive’s previous roles directing NBC News’ coverage. “He doesn’t really get what primetime does.”
Maddow finally reappears a wide deal That was worth $30 million per year through 2024, according to the Daily Beast, citing anonymous sources. This would let him develop projects across the network and also allow him to break away from hosting his own 9 p.m. primetime show within the next year.
Still, this leaves the big question of who will fill Madavo’s shoes. Network insiders told The Post that they’re concerned that the hard-news-focused Jones may not have the contacts or drive needed to find someone to replace Meadow — and fill the rest of MSNBC’s schedule.
“Rashida has a lot of good qualities, but I don’t think she’s going to crush the big talents,” said an MSNBC insider. “He’s not creative — and that worries me.”
Insiders described Jones, who succeeded longtime MSNBC president Phil Griffin in February, as a “buttoned-up,” “young” and “lack of creative vision” for the network, as Joe Meadow, Known for news analysis from majors like Lawrence O’. Donnell, and Brian Williams.
One source said the most alarming thing for some is that Jones is re-examining MSNBC’s mission, hinting that she wants to focus on “personality-driven, opinion programming with big stars.” Instead, she wants to fight CNN over breaking news.
“We need to embrace our brand primetime Or we’re going to lose big time,” said one employee.
The source cited an all-staff Zoom call last week, in which Jones pointed to instances where MSNBC beat CNN in ratings for big news programs. During the call, Jones said, “We are meeting our competitors where they are in the tough news,” according to a source. Jones also cited strong ratings on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” thanks to news coverage of the hearing on the Capitol riots.
Jones recently instructed the network to “put a lot of energy on the breaking news of the weekend, which seems like a loser,” the source said.
“People have never seen except on weekends [prison documentary] ‘Lockup,'” the source said. “The weekend is not a winner for CNN either. It feels like a waste of time.”
Meanwhile, Maddow’s new contract, which causes her to step away from her daily shows within the year, gets Jones in trouble.
“The question is, what do they do with primetime? It’s going to be a test for Rashida,” said the source.
According to a source, Jones hired Nicole Wallace, who currently hosts “Deadline White House” and works as a political anchor, scheduled to take on Maddow’s 9 p.m. show on a temporary basis. Had Meadow left the network in August.
“In every Rashida interview, she points to Nicole as the future,” said an MSNBC insider. “But I know for a fact that Nicole doesn’t want to work late at night.”
Although Wallace has been a workhorse for the network, her star power is not possessed by Meadow. In addition, Wallace, who is going through a divorce and has a young son, has been vocal about not working late into the night.
“Nicole Wallace doesn’t want to work a second later”, said the source. “She’s already making north of $2 million, which is enough,” the source said, adding that even though the network may have thrown more money at her, Wallace’s priority is her family.
MSNBC declined to comment. A representative for Wallace did not return a request for comment.
On the positive side, MSNBC employees are generally relieved at how well Jones and Conde have brought the network back to normalcy after a chaotic year marred by the explosive reporting of Ronan Farrow, which claimed that The NBC brass kills its exposé on Harvey Weinstein and drops the rape allegation. Under the Rug Against “Today” host Matt Lauer by a former employee.
But when things calm down, employees worry that the new management has become a bit too corporate.
“Cesar Conde is a business school boss and Rashida Jones is very busy,” said a source.
Griffin, who had been with NBC News and MSNBC for nearly 25 years, dropped out while the company was dealing with the fallout of sexual harassment allegations that rocked the news department for two years. While Griffin himself was never the subject of the allegations, Farrow’s book “Catch and Kill” described the execution by revealing a photo of a woman—who one source said was TV personality Maria Menounos—at a staff meeting. , smiling and saying, “Not bad, not bad.”
Some of MSNBC’s most successful shows such as “The Rachel Meadow Show” and even the entertaining and popular “Countdown with Keith Olberman”, which aired from 2003 to 2011, “would not have been born under this leadership,” One employee explained.
“Phil Griffin was a team-builder who built talent and trust in employees,” the source said of the network’s former boss. “They gave people a sense of belonging and a common goal. Now, there’s a cold, corporate spirit.”
The well-liked Griffin often met with different teams in the company and wanted their feedback, which sparked creativity.
“People with ideas got a boost,” the source said. “I don’t see any pipeline for real ideas right now.”
By comparison, Jones conducts more Zoom meetings with the entire staff, which makes it difficult to communicate to share suggestions. Recently, the executive has had in-person coffee meetings with small groups.
“He’s very organized, but it just feels canned,” the source said, noting that people with ideas aren’t given as much importance, and that Jones instead promotes rule-following corporate types.
During Maddow’s position, Jones, 40, has solidified MSNBC’s news daytime lineup, hiring Telemundo and NBC News anchor Jose Diaz-Balart for the 10 a.m. show and straight-to-the-White House. K’s correspondent Hailey Jackson has gone on to anchor. The 3 pm political news show She also moved Ayman Mohyeldin to the primetime weekend slot.
The reshuffle prompted some insiders to rely heavily on serious news anchors, who historically haven’t pumped up MSNBC’s ratings.
While Jones may have lacked Griffin’s temperament, insiders noted that he started during the pandemic and it is too early to judge his performance under these circumstances.
The source added, “The pandemic has changed everything and it has made life difficult for the officers. Rashida is friendly and accommodating, but it is too early to tell whether she is a real team builder or someone who just wants to climb the ladder. Is.” “I think he has to work to build trust. Phil had trust. You knew he had your back.”
MSNBC generally beats CNN in primetime, but both networks consistently outperform Granthshala News. Last month, ratings firm Nielsen said Granthshala News dominates all of its primetime shows with an average of 2.5 million viewers, far ahead of MSNBC with 1.2 million viewers and CNN with 819,000 viewers.
In the same month, “The Rachel Maddow Show” was MSNBC’s highest-rated show with a total audience of 2.1 million average nightly viewers, but surpassed five other cable shows, including Granthshala’s “Hannity”, which Face to face with Mado. “Hannity” at 9 p.m. garnered 3 million viewers, second only to “Tucker Carlson Tonight”, which gave an average total audience of 3.3 million viewers.
Meanwhile, MSNBC may be losing Brian Williams, the anchor of the network’s 11 o’clock show “The 11th Hour”. Williams, whose contract expires this year, is threatening to leave and the latest buzz is that he wants to run for CBS, but a source said a “laughable rumour” meant the MSNBC parent. NBC has to motivate him to keep.
Although Jones has given no clear instructions for covering the harsh news, one employee has noticed a change in the type of stories MSNBC is now doing under him. Source pointed to live coverage SpaceX Launch On Chris Hayes’ show “All In” earlier this month.
“There were talks about whether we should cover it? In the past, we wouldn’t,” the source said of the rocket ship launch. “Does our primetime audience care about the SpaceX launch? Probably not.”