Brian Williams at MSNBC: ‘The Hope Is That One Damaged Brand Can Lift Another’

By Mark Joyella 

It’s expected that next month, former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams will return to television in his new role as a dayside breaking news anchor at MSNBC. As The Wall Street Journal puts it today, “the hope is that one damaged brand can lift another.”

In the short term, the plan is to put Williams to work doing what he does best–covering breaking news–and helping establish MSNBC as a network for strong nuts-and-bolts reporting.

Andy Lack and Phil Griffin “are betting that interest in the 2016 presidential election will provide a window for MSNBC to showcase its hard-news chops. Doing hard news during the day will put MSNBC in direct competition with CNN and Fox News.”


As The Los Angeles Times reports, Williams “will be set up at his own anchor desk on the third floor of NBC News headquarters in New York’s Rockefeller Center, across from the main MSNBC set used for such shows as Morning Joe and Newsnation With Tamron Hall.”

But Davidson Goldin, who had a short-lived stint as an MSNBC executive tells the WSJ “old fashioned hard news during the day has never been a recipe for competitive success at MSNBC.” The WSJ reports:

MSNBC’s ratings woes are hurting its ad sales, though not yet in a big way. The channel will take in $217.2 million in advertising revenue this year, down about 2% from $221.3 million last year, according to industry consulting firm SNL Kagan. By comparison, in 2015 CNN is projected to have ad revenue of $330 million and Fox $801.4 million.

Late last month, MSNBC canceled three daytime opinion shows canceling two others earlier this year.