NY Mag’s ‘Chasing Fox’: The Takeaway for MSNBC

By Alex Weprin 

New York magazine’s “Chasing Fox” cover story this week is a lengthy, in-depth look at the state of the cable news channels. TVNewser will be highlighting the takeaways from the article for each of the three networks today.

For MSNBC, the article paints a complicated picture. After giving some history of the network, and introducing the key players, the story reveals a few juicy tidbits, like the fact that MSNBC tried to buy The Huffington Post, only to be rebuffed by HuffPost co-founder Ken Lerer.

For most cable news fanatics, however, it is the intra-network squabbling that will likely draw most of the attention:

Olbermann’s nightly numbers—Countdown tripled MSNBC’s audience in the 8 p.m. slot—give him immense power at the network and force his bosses to tolerate his mountain-size ego. MSNBC president Phil Griffin, who has worked with Olbermann on and off since their first days at CNN in the early eighties, acknowledges there have been issues. “It’s always complex because of management and Keith,” he says.

There’s tension between morning and night at MSNBC. “I don’t have an hour to waste for someone just reading Democratic or Republican Party talking points,” says Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, who’s positioned himself as a moderate. “We’ve created a safe house,” he says of his show.

“I have no comment about him,” Olbermann says.

Of course, despite the squabbling and egos, MSNBC has been able to leverage its opinionated programming into the number two cable news channel behind Fox, overtaking CNN.

Read the entire NY Mag story for more, including fascinating information about the role Tim Russert played at the network,  Scarborough’s proposed return to politics and what happened during Dan Abrams’ brief tenure as network GM.