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“Anchors Gone Wild”

PageSix Magazine opens up on the past, present and future of MSNBC, pondering “During the most exciting presidential election in decades, how did NBC become the story instead of covering it?” The story points to Microsoft’s exit (the MS in MSNBC) that led to “an era of downsizing” at the cable channel.

At the end of 2007, seven senior executives left their management positions at MSNBC. “The crisis of management led to the crisis on-air that you’re seeing today,” says one insider. With no one in charge, MSNBC began to look like Anchors Gone Wild.

Without a doubt the network has seen a surge in the last several months. For the first time ever in October the 9pm show on MSNBC beat the 9pm show on CNN in younger viewers. For the first time ever last week, MSNBC won the week at both 8pm and 9pm in younger viewers. Still, the big question remains, will that momentum last?

“It’s a one-trick pony,” says a competitor. “It’s Keith at 8, Rachel at 9, Keith at 10, Rachel at 11, but four hours of the same snark is not a strategy. Some compare the network’s love of Maddow to the flurry of excitement over Ashleigh Banfield, who was given the ax in ’04 after bashing the network’s coverage of the war in Iraq. “They constantly try to create another media darling,” says an insider.

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