MSNBCers “Treated Like Understudies” When Williams & Couric Took Over

By Brian 

Brian Williams anchored four hours of London bombing coverage on MSNBC Thursday, and Katie Couric stopped by for an hour, as well. Neal Shapiro says “he wants to use more of NBC’s top talent on the cable news network during big stories,” according to the AP.

But not everyone at MSNBC is happy about that. “The Brian/Katie thing symbolized everything that’s wrong with the relationship between NBC and MSNBC,” an insider told TVNewser over the weekend. “Any credibility either of them might give to MSNBC has far less of an impact than the message to the viewers that the MSNBC people aren’t good enough, and that MSNBC is basically a play area for NBC when the news isn’t quite big enough to justify postponing a soap opera. It denies MSNBC people audience exposure and it (we hope unfairly) makes Brian and Katie look like air pigs. It’s like the poaching of staff and talent whenever things get thin in New York, only it’s about time, not people: ‘We need it; we’re taking it from you.'”

More: “If we get treated like the understudies or placeholders, we’re always going to deliver the ratings of understudies and placeholders. That’s fine. It’s NBC’s company, they can do what they wish. But if they ever complain about ratings or quality again, they should go and look in the mirror. This is why ratings are a disaster now and why there were a disaster in 2000 and why they were a disaster in 1997. And nobody in New York has had even the minimum intelligence required to see how self-defeating it is.”

Take a look at MSNBC’s hourly ratings for Thursday, published only on TVNewser. While a slight increase is apparent between 10am and 2pm, especially during the 1pm hour that Couric co-hosted, the increase isn’t dramatic.

> Shapiro explains: “Day in, day out, we have great faith in MSNBC and its team to do what they do,” Shapiro told TV Week. But when there are big stories, everybody understands NBC News needs to be great on every platform we are on.”