msnbc Launched July 15, 1996 Owned by NBCUniversal Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV)
1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Slogan "Lean Forward"
"The Place For Politics"
Country United States Language English Broadcast area United States
Headquarters 30 Rockefeller Center
New York City
Formerly called America's Talking (1994–1996) Sister channel(s) CNBC
The Weather Channel
Website msnbc.com Availability Terrestrial Selective TV Inc.
K57JX (Channel 57) WPXW-TV
Mobile-DTV Channel 66.4 MSNBC
DVB-T Channel 23 Satellite DirecTV (US) Channel 356 (SD/HD) Dish Network (US) Channel 209 (SD/HD) Bell TV (Canada) Channel 1588 (HD) Shaw Direct (Canada) Channel 511 Cable Available on most cable systems Check local listings Satellite radio XM Channel 117 Sirius Channel 117 IPTV AT&T U-verse (US) Channel 215 (SD)
Channel 1215 (HD)
Bell FibeTV (Canada) Channel 1506 (HD) TELUS TV (Canada) Channel 97 Channel 103 (SD)
Channel 603 (HD)
Internet television RadixTV 22
MSNBC (stylized as msnbc) is a cable news channel based in the United States and is available in the US, Germany (Berlin, Local), South Africa, the Middle East and Canada. Its name is derived from those of "Microsoft" and "NBC".
msnbc.com, a separate company, is the news website for the NBC News family, featuring interactivity and multimedia plus original stories and video which augment the content from NBC News and partners.
MSNBC and msnbc.com were founded in 1996 as partnerships between Microsoft and General Electric's NBC unit, which is now NBCUniversal. Although Microsoft and NBC shared operations of MSNBC cable at its founding, it was announced on December 23, 2005, that NBCUniversal would purchase a majority stake in the television channel, which left Microsoft with 18%, later reduced to zero. The two companies remain partners in msnbc.com. MSNBC shares the NBC logo of a rainbow peacock with its sister channels NBC, CNBC and ShopNBC. MSNBC is available in over 78 million households in the United States.
Following several years in which many observers noted promotion of liberal political positions and emergence of politically partisan views in the channel's programming, MSNBC publicly acknowledged its progressivism in October 2010 while launching a marketing campaign with the tagline "Lean Forward." In a June 2011 interview, MSNBC president Phil Griffin stated that "MSNBC has established a sensibility, a position, a platform" and that "MSNBC is really the place to go for progressives."
- 1 History
- 2 Carriage issues
- 3 High Definition
- 4 Graphics
- 5 International broadcasts
- 6 Online
- 7 Radio
- 8 Current programming
- 9 MSNBC/NBC news anchors, commentators and correspondents
- 10 Criticism and controversy
- 11 References
- 12 External links
MSNBC was established by NBC executive Tom Rogers. Rogers was instrumental in developing the strategic partnership with Microsoft, which invested $220 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. NBC supplied the space with an 18-month-old America's Talking network.
MSNBC was launched on July 15, 1996. The first show, which was anchored by Jodi Applegate, 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. 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 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." In January 2001, Mike Barnicle got a show on MSNBC, but it was canceled in June 2001 due to high production costs. 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. 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 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 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 began from 2005 onwards 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 anchor, 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". On June 7, 2006, Rick Kaplan resigned as president of MSNBC, after holding the post for two years. 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 the NBC News 24-hour cable news television channel, 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." 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.
MSNBC and NBC News launched broadcasts from their new studios at NBC's "30 Rock" complex in New York City on October 22, 2007. 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. Primetime viewings increased by 61% over that time. 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." Tim Russert's sudden death in June 2008 removed what The Wall Street Journal called the "rudder for the network" and has currently led to a period of transition.
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. During the first three months of the presidential campaign, MSNBC's ratings grew by 158 percent. 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. 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.
In September 2008, the channel hired political analyst 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. Now, the show regularly outperforms CNN's Larry King Live, and made the channel competitive in the program's time slot for the first time in over a decade.
In the first quarter of 2010, MSNBC beat CNN in primetime and overall ratings, marking the first time doing so since 2001. The channel also beat CNN in total adult viewers in March, marking the seventh out of the past eight months MSNBC achieved that accolade. 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.
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. 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.
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." The new campaign embraces the network's politically progressive identity. The two-year advertising campaign will cost $2 million and will consist of Internet, television, and print advertising. 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.” As a result, msnbc.com is considering changing its name to prevent confusion with the television network, MSNBC.
On January 21, 2011, Olbermann announced his departure from MSNBC and the episode would be the final episode of Countdown. 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. It is expected to compete with MSNBC following Olbermann's debut on the network in late spring 2011.
MSNBC was not available to Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse TV subscribers in portions of New York, northern New Jersey and Connecticut which overlapped with Cablevision's cable television territory until 2010. The reason for the lack of availability was, in part, due to an exclusive carriage agreement that MSNBC entered into with Cablevision, which prohibited competing wired providers from carrying MSNBC. The terms of the agreement were not publicly known.
A suit from Verizon to the FCC was filed in order to force the termination of this deal. Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal wrote to new FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, agreeing with Verizon, saying that the deal may be illegal. After reaching a new contract, FiOS added the channel in New York City and in New Jersey on February 2, 2010.
Cablevision was the only provider to carry MSNBC HD at its launch date. Dish Network added the HD channel on July 8. Time Warner Cable launched the HD feed on July 22 in the New York area. The feed was made available in late July in Ithaca, NY on Time Warner. Bright House Networks added the HD feed in July. Verizon FiOS added MSNBC HD on February 11, 2010. DirecTV added the HD channel on May 19, 2010.
Comcast has also added MSNBC HD in several markets, 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.
Prior to 2009, MSNBC used a graphic scheme which contained highly angular shapes.
Beginning 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 talk shows and documentaries.
MSNBC is shown only in the United States, Canada, South Africa, parts of Latin America, and parts of Northern Africa (see below).
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 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.
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. 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).
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 Orbit News in Europe and the Middle East. Orbit 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 was shown on CNBC Europe as a part of its primetime lineup until April 2010, due to international distribution changes made by NBC Universal. During breaking news events, CNBC-e, MSNBC is also shown occasionally on affiliate channel CNBC Europe.
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.
Msnbc.com, a separate company from MSNBC cable, is the online news outlet for the NBC News family, including network shows such as Today, NBC Nightly News, and Dateline NBC, as well as MSNBC TV. In addition to NBC News content and material produced by the site's own staff, msnbc.com also hosts articles and features from several partners, including The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine.
The web site is developed in Redmond, Washington, on the Microsoft campus and news content is produced out of newsrooms in Redmond, New York, and London. It is the news provider for MSN, the portal site and online service operated by Microsoft, but it is editorially and financially separate.
On April 2, 2007, msnbc.com launched a new logo and a new slogan, "A Fuller Spectrum of News."
The channel launched on XM Satellite Radio channel 120 and Sirius Satellite Radio channel 90 on April 12, 2010. 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.
ET Program Hosts Location Description 5a-5.30a First Look Lynn Berry, Veronica De La Cruz Studio 3K, New York City msnbc's early morning program providing a look at the news of the day. Sister program to NBC's Early Today. 5.30a-6a Way Too Early with Willie Geist Willie Geist Studio 3A, New York City The second early morning newscast on msnbc. Way too Early is described by the network as a "pre-game" show for Morning Joe presented with Geist's signature fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek style. 6a-9a Morning Joe Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Willie Geist Morning news talk show with analysis, commentary, and the headlines of the day. A majority of MoJoe is presented in a panel-style, unscripted format not seen on other morning news programs. 9a-10a The Daily Rundown Chuck Todd Washington, D.C. The NBC News Chief White House Correspondent focuses on the top political stories of the day with guests from across the political spectrum. 10a-11a Jansing & Co. Chris Jansing w/ Richard Lui Studio 3A, New York City News and discussion of important issues with informed guests. 11a-12p MSNBC Live Thomas Roberts Connecting viewers with the biggest stories and breaking news from coast to coast. 12p-1p Now with Alex Wagner Alex Wagner 1p-2p Andrea Mitchell Reports Andrea Mitchell Washington, D.C. The NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent hosts an all political hour featuring exclusive interviews and analysis. 2p-3p NewsNation with Tamron Hall Tamron Hall Studio 3A, New York City Hall brings Insight and perspective into the biggest headlines of the day, analyzing the importance of the stories to our everyday lives. 3p-4p Martin Bashir Martin Bashir The veteran journalist takes viewers across America and the globe to uncover the hidden side to the days events with thoughtful and provocative interviews . 4p-5p The Dylan Ratigan Show Dylan Ratigan The former CNBC host offers his opinion on the economy, financial system, U.S. politics, and the headlines of the day with thorough analysis from Ratigan and a panel of informed guests. 5p-6p Hardball with Chris Matthews Chris Matthews Washington, D.C. A hard-hitting political talk/interview show from the outspoken host. Replays at 7pm, 2am, 5am (Saturdays), and 7am (Sundays) 6p-7p PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton Al Sharpton Studio 3A, New York City Discussion and analysis on American Politics and its impact on both individuals and the nation as a whole. 8p-9p The Ed Show Ed Schultz Studio 3K, New York City Social and economic commentary program from the popular progressive radio host. Replays at 11pm, and 3am 9p-10p The Rachel Maddow Show Rachel Maddow Studio 3A, New York City The popular liberal pundit offers a smart, thorough look at the political stories and other news of the day with special guest interviews. Replay at 12am and 4am 10p-11p (Mon-Thurs) The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell Lawrence O'Donnell Studio 3K, New York City Political opinion program channeling O'Donnells extensive background in both politics and entertainment.Replay at 1am.
ET Program Hosts Location Description 5.00a-5.30a Best of Hardball with Chris Matthews Chris Matthews Washington, D.C. A recap of the best segments from the previous week. 7a-9a Up with Chris Hayes Chris Hayes GE Building, New York City Weekend morning show focusing on politics hosted by the MSNBC contributor and Editor-at-Large of The Nation. 9a-12p Weekends with Alex Witt Alex Witt GE Building, New York City The long-time weekend anchor covers the day's top news stories with analysis, including breaking stories, formerly MSNBC Live. 12p-7a (Sundays) MSNBC Documentaries Various Various MSNBC and NBC News documentaries, including Lockup (Marathon 6p-5a) and Dateline NBC.
ET Program Hosts Location Description 7.00a-7.30a Best of Hardball with Chris Matthews Chris Matthews Washington, D.C. A recap of the best segments from the previous week. 7.30a-8a Your Business JJ Ramberg GE Building, New York City News and analysis about small business. Replays at 5.30am Saturdays 8a-10a Up with Chris Hayes Chris Hayes GE Building, New York City Weekend morning show focusing on politics hosted by the MSNBC contributor and Editor-at-Large of The Nation. 10a-12p Weekends With Alex Witt Alex Witt GE Building, New York City The long-time weekend anchor covers the day's top news stories with analysis, including breaking stories, formerly MSNBC Live. 12p-2p MSNBC Documentaries Various Various MSNBC and NBC News documentaries, including Caught On Camera, Dateline NBC and special editions of To Catch a Predator 2p-3p Meet the Press David Gregory Washington, D.C. Same day re-air of the weekly Sunday morning talk show carried on the NBC network. Replays at 2am and 4am (Monday morning) 3p-4a (Monday) MSNBC Documentaries Various Various MSNBC and NBC News documentaries, including Caught On Camera, Dateline NBC and special editions of To Catch a Predator
MSNBC/NBC news anchors, commentators and correspondents
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. 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 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. There isn’t a dogma we’re putting through. There is a ‘Go for it.’”
A study conducted by Harvard University on media bias during the 2008 presidential election found that "A positive tone pervaded (on MSNBC) coverage of candidates from both parties. Nearly half (47%) of the stories about Democratic candidates were positive, vs. 19% negative and 34% neutral. Coverage of Republican candidates was not quite as rosy but still more stories were positive (38%) than neutral (33%) or negative (30%)."
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. The New York Times has called Olbermann MSNBC's "most recognizable face". 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." 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. In September 2009, a Pew Research Poll showed that Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to rate the channel favorably and Republicans were much more likely than Democrats to see MSNBC unfavorably.
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 stating, "I want to apologize to Governor Palin and all of our viewers. On Friday, in a very misguided attempt to have some fun in advance of Sarah Palin’s upcoming book Going Rogue, our staff mistakenly used some clearly photoshopped images of Ms. Palin without any acknowledgment."
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.
Assertions of pro-Obama bias
Some Democratic Party supporters, most notably Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Clinton advisor Lanny Davis, criticized MSNBC during and after the 2008 Democratic Primaries, as covering Barack Obama more favorably than Hillary Clinton. 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 "Change." 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.
After Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann made controversial on-air comments during the 2008 Republican National Convention, NBC News correspondent David Gregory replaced them, but Matthews and Olbermann continued working as analysts. On November 4–5, Matthews teamed with Rachel Maddow, Eugene Robinson, David Gregory, and Keith Olbermann to cover the presidential election.
During MSNBC's coverage of the Potomac primary, Matthews had this to say about then presidential candidate Barack Obama:
“ 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.
Phil Donahue Iraq War dismissal
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, Donahue was MSNBC's highest rated show that month.
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."
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).
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. 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.
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. 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. 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. That same day, MSNBC announced that he would be back on the air starting Tuesday, November 9.
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.
On January 21, 2011 MSNBC announced that Olbermann would host his final show that same night.
During the news cycle following the 2011 Tucson shooting, conservative talk-radio host Mark Levin threatened to sue Chris Matthews and several other MSNBC commentators who suggested that he might have influenced the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner. Levin also defended Republican politician Sarah Palin, from MSNBC punditry linking her political rhetoric to the heated political atmosphere surrounding the killings. Paul Bond of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that "MSNBC was crucial in driving the narrative that the killer was egged on by violent political rhetoric, particularly from Palin". Bond also wrote that "even after it was learned that the shooter was an atheist, flag-burning, Bush-hating, 9/11 Truther who enjoyed joking about abortion (not exactly the portrait of a Palin supporter), MSNBC still did not let up on that story line".
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