In an interview with The Daily Beast, conducted before the latest controversy at MSNBC, network president Phil Griffin spoke about the recent daytime shakeup, explaining how the types of voices viewers will hear makes MSNBC “more analytical as the day goes on.”
“There is a rhyme or reason to this—it’s making the thread clearer from morning to night,” Griffin says, explaining that the latest line-up is organized in three-hour blocks. The first begins with Morning Joe, the bipartisan agenda-setter that airs from 6 to 9 a.m., continuing with a newsy block that runs from 9 to noon (with Hall newly installed at 11 a.m.), running through Mitchell at noon and followed by Farrow and Reid as “a more topical” bridge to an increasingly opinionated afternoon featuring The Cycle, a panel show, and Now With Alex Wagner. “Then you have the big voices of Ed Schultz, Rev [Al Sharpton], and Chris [Matthews],” Griffin continues, “and then the big deeper thinkers of Chris Hayes, Rachel [Maddow], and Lawrence [O’Donnell].”
Griffin draws a line between MSNBC’s “sensibility” and ideology.
“I think we’ve never had an ideology. An ideology is a single thought across all programs. We’ve never had that.” As evidence, he mentions the spirited on-air debates in 2010, pro and con, concerning whether the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire. “Obviously I hire people who fit the sensibility,” Griffin says. “We do stay true to facts. You have to build your argument. That’s why I call it a sensibility.”
Griffin also defended 8pm host Chris Hayes, citing an improvement in his ratings since Ed Schultz’s and Chris Matthews’ insertion at 5pm and 7pm, respectively.