First on TVNewser: To many, the appointment of Dan Abrams to general manager of MSNBC is a surprise.
“This is an unconventional play. We know that, and that’s the beauty of it,” a senior NBC News executive told TVNewser today. “Dan is a guy who knows this place through and through. The same is true for Phil Griffin,” the new executive-in-charge.
The last time NBC looked for a new leader of MSNBC, it looked outside, to ABC and CNN vet Rick Kaplan. This time, it looked inside, and turned to Abrams and Griffin, who have spent at least nine years each at the cable channel.
“When you look at that combined knowledge, nobody’s going to know the organization better,” the exec said.
Abrams has had an eye on a leadership role for more than a year.
“He was shooting e-mails to us with his thoughts of what was going on at MSNBC and the strengths and weaknesses,” the exec said. “He knows this thing through and through.”
“Anybody who makes a decision to give up their on-air show in order to do something like this…to me that’s a selfless act and it proves his commitment to the job,” the exec added.
With Griffin overseeing MSNBC, the channel will have an executive-in-charge based at 30 Rock for the first time since the days of Andy Lack.
“Everybody in the organization knows Phil, on both sides of the river and all around the world,” the exec said.
Griffin’s cable news mantra is passion. He’ll try to infuse it throughout the day on MSNBC.
“Think of what’s gone on at the Today Show,” the exec said. “When he left MSNBC and came over to Today, GMA was within spitting distance. Phil deserves an awful lot of credit for turning that ship around… he absolutely drew on his cable experience.”
Griffin was formerly the executive producer of Hardball. The show is now one of MSNBC’s two primetime “success stories.”
“Take a look at the ratings growth that you’ve seen at MSNBC over the past couple of years,” the exec said. “We’re operating from a position of strength.”