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Scarborough Country’s Tabloid Turn

What is MSNBC doing to Joe Scarborough? In recent weeks, viewers have noticed a sudden shift in Scarborough Country: A tabloid turn toward crime and celebrity “news.”

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The program is clearly playing up pop culture stories. Take the lead segments for week of July 10: On Monday, it was the “Playboy terrorist;” Tuesday, the CIA leak case; Wednesday, Scientology wars; Thursday, Brangelina and “starlet wars;” and Friday, a photo of Suri Cruise.

The week of July 17 wasn’t as bad. Scarborough led with Middle East news every night of the week. But by Wednesday, stories about Brad Pitt, Britney Spears and Christie Brinkley started to creep back in. By Friday, sub host Rita Cosby was talking to editors from In Touch, OK!, and Star about a variety of tabloid stories.

And this week, with Cosby subbing for Scarborough, the pop culture crap is back. Monday’s show didn’t find time for the Middle East, leading instead with “Christie Brinkley’s Love Triangle.” Tuesday’s show started in Israel, but quickly returned to the U.S. for an interview with Pete Rose and the latest on a gator attack. And Wednesday’s show featured Andrea Yates‘s not guilty verdict and an interview with Miss Universe 2006.

This e-mailer’s comment sums it up: “Looks like Abrams has given him his marching orders, ‘Nuts and Sluts.’” The shift toward tabloid tales isn’t necessarily bad — but it is dramatically different, and the ratings suggest demo viewers are turning it off…

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