MSNBCers Talk Politics and Cable News at TCA, as Mark Halperin Returns

By Alex Weprin Comment

If you were watching “Morning Joe” on MSNBC this morning, you may have recognize a familiar face:

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Yes, Mark Halperin returned to the channel after an “indefinite” suspension that lasted for one month.

Halperin’s return happened to coincide with MSNBC’s panel discussion at the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills. MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Matthews appeared, along with MSNBC president Phil Griffin.

In addition to talking politics (all three hosts agreed with varying levels of certainty that President Obama would be re-elected next year) the panel also discussed MSNBC’s place in the cable news landscape.

As Time‘s James Poniewozik recalled:

Asked whether they felt that cable news had contributed to an environment in which voters and politicians are polarized and unwilling to compromise, Griffin and his hosts repeatedly argued that MSNBC leaves more room for varying points of view and strikes a different tone from Fox. Not that anyone on stage was discarding the idea that MSNBC now had a brand as the progressive network in primetime. When a questioner in the audience told the panel he was seated to the their right, Matthews cracked, “It’s easy to get to our right.”

After the panel, B&C editor in chief Ben Grossman caught up with Griffin, who confirmed that CBS News would have to wait for a while if they wanted to poach Joe Scarborough or Mika Brzezinski. He also laid out how MSNBC will be covering elections and other big news nights. Maddow would be the star:

Griffin also said that the plan is for Rachel Maddow to host the network’s election coverage on big nights leading up to and including next year’s election. She will play traffic cop to MSNBC’s other primetime talent including Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Schultz.

“Rachel sits in the chair, but it will be the ensemble together,” Griffin said. “That’s how I envision it.”

Griffin also talked about why he suspended Halperin in the first place.