National Journal Tries To Parse MSNBC’s Ratings Decline

By Alex Weprin Comment

It isn’t a secret that MSNBC has had a rough year so far, anyone reading our daily scoreboard has seen it. The National Journal‘s Matthew Cooper attempts to parse the ratings decline, and comes up with a number of theories:

One common theory is that MSNBC feels threatened by a resurgent CNN… Other insiders posited the theory of progressive decline — liberals are less fired up now that we’re in the second term of the Obama administration… Critics also suggest that MSNBC no longer has much diversity in the evenings… Some believe the network suffered from moving blunt Ed Schultz to the weekend.

Inside Cable News responds to a few of those theories, but there is one other possibility, a possibility that at least one MSNBC executive has mentioned to us.

MSNBC has branded itself as “The Place for Politics,” and right now people just aren’t that into politics. There is no political campaign going on, and no election coming up. While there are policy disputes, and the George Zimmerman trial has political undertones, MSNBC has bet the farm on insider political coverage, and right now there isn’t much insider coverage to present.

CNN excels when there is breaking news (and there has been lots of breaking news this year) while Fox News has proven that it can excel in any news environment. MSNBC does well when there isn’t much “newsy” news, but there is lots of insider political and campaign news going on. That may mean that MSNBC gives up on 2013 when it comes to catching CNN, but somewhere deep inside 30 Rock, the 2014 midterm elections are looming large.