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Posts Tagged ‘Phil Griffin’

Rachel Racusen Leaves White House for MSNBC

Rachel-MSNBCPRNewser reports Rachel Racusen has been named VP of Communications for MSNBC.

Racusen joins the network from the White House where she has been Associate Communications Director. Prior to that, Racusen was Deputy Communications Director for Pres. Obama’s re-election campaign. Racusen takes over for Lauren Skowronski who was promoted to VP of Corporate Communications for NBCUniversal.

“I’m thrilled to add Rachel to our senior team,” says MSNBC president Phil Griffin. “She has great experience, she’s creative, strategic and passionate about our brand.”

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MSNBC to Undergo Internal Reorganization

msnbc_logo_sticker_3_7x2.5First on TVNewser: MSNBC is taking the next step in its evolution, with a return to its roots. The cable network, which has lost much of the ratings momentum it gained following the 2008 election of Barack Obama, will combine the digital and TV editorial teams under The Bridge, the network’s third floor newsroom at 30 Rock.

In a memo obtained by TVNewser, MSNBC president Phil Griffin, says the goal is to “create a more nimble organization with greater collaboration between teams.”

Digital writers will now sit alongside TV producers, a new video research team will be created, and bookings will be centralized to, as Griffin puts it, “bring in fresh experts and more on-the-ground reporters.” We’ve inquired about whether any jobs will be cut in the process, but have not heard back.

This reorganization is a return to the beginnings of the 18-year-old network. MSNBC launched as a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC with the idea of integrating TV and online. It was an often rocky relationship with differing ideological and corporate goals. Still, it lasted 16 years. “This is the next logical stage in our evolution,” Griffin says.

Griffin’s full note after the jump…

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Michael Wolff: MSNBC’s Phil Griffin ‘Has Painted Himself Into a Corner’

2009+Winter+TCA+Tour+Day+9+RnrzO9gD_1plIn a column in USA Today, Michael Wolff has described MSNBC boss Phil Griffin as, a man without a clear strategy at a failing network. Describing MSNBC as dated and difficult to watch, Wolff wonders if Griffin can survive. “MSNBC now has a lineup of ever-righteous and often sulky defenders of President Barack Obama, who seem, not just to conservatives but to many liberals, too, bizarrely tone deaf and lost in time.”

Compared to the consistent ratings power of Fox News, MSNBC, Wolff argues, did not rise to the top with President Obama, but has slipped as the president’s popularity has waned. Ratings for the midterm election were down:

Griffin is no Ailes. And MSNBC is not Fox, with its ability to direct as well as portray the political drama. A poor political operative, Griffin has painted himself into a corner like political parties so often do, losing the base, and yet without the philosophical wherewithal to appeal to a larger group. There is the broken clock theory of politics and cable programming, in which, if you just keep doing what you’re doing, the zeitgeist returns to you. But politicians and media executives, swimming against the tide, usually lose their jobs before their hour returns.

Changes Coming to MSNBC

msnbc_logo_sticker_3_7x2.5Among the parts of Bill Carter‘s dissection of MSNBC’s ratings woes of late that jumped out at us is a quote from network chief Phil Griffin: “You can look at the dysfunction in Washington, the wariness about politics, the low approval ratings. That’s had an impact. But we’ve got to adjust; we’ve got to evolve,” Griffin says.

In fact, when the third quarter ratings came out — during which MSNBC had its lowest quarter in 7 years — TVNewser dug deep into the numbers. We tracked the president’s approval ratings going back to the beginning of his presidency, and compared them to cable TV news ratings during the same period. What we found is there is a correlation between the president’s popularity and that of MSNBC.

So what’s the plan for the NBCU news channel? Expect programming changes, less reliance on a recognizable pool of contributors, and an approach that goes beyond “The Place for Politics.”

“We have a good brand, a strong brand,” Griffin tells Carter. “But we’ve got to get outside Washington and open up our aperture a little.”

Phil Griffin on MSNBC Daytime: ‘Tough Stretch’ but ‘In This for the Long-term’

phil-griffinOn the same day ratings showed a 7-year low for MSNBC, TVNewser spoke to network president Phil Griffin at a luncheon for new morning anchor Jose Díaz-Balart.

“I think we’ve done a lot of good stuff,” Griffin told us regarding the changes he’s made this year to the daytime lineup, which includes adding Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid at 1pm and 2pmET, respectively.

“It’s been a tough run honestly since it’s happened because of the storylines, but I’ve been really pleased. Ronan’s done a lot of good stuff,” he continued, noting a story Farrow did on rape kit backlogs across the country.

“I’m in this for the long term. This has been a tough stretch, for everybody, but I think we’ve got the right people. Look, we’ll probably tinker with it, you always have to figure out where you are and how the world is changing. We should, we gotta respond.”

Will that tinkering include adding new hosts and shifting others around? “Look, I’m always looking at things. I just think you’ve got to respond. Look what’s happening out there and how the country has changed over the last couple of years. I think there’s been a big change.”

So far this year, Griffin added Díaz-Balart, who is Telemundo’s main anchor, at 10amET following Chris Jansing‘s move to NBC News. He shifted Tamron Hall from 2pm to 11amET, Andrea Mitchell from 1pm to noonET, and Alex Wagner from noon to 4pmET. Griffin currently has the 9amET hour to fill following Chuck Todd‘s ascension to “Meet the Press.”

José Díaz-Balart: ‘Embarrassing’ That There Aren’t More Latino Voices on Cable News

Jose Diaz-BalartWe all know working in TV news can mean very long days.

Jose Díaz-Balart puts in about a 15-hour day, give or take, across two networks. For Telemundo, he’s the main anchor of the evening newscast. For sister network MSNBC, he hosts the 10amET hour. Díaz-Balart, the son of Cuban immigrants, and brother of Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), anchors both shows from Miami.

“Every second that I have the opportunity to work in this calling is a privilege; there’s no sacrifice there,” Díaz-Balart told us during a lunch at Rock Center Cafe.

Since his debut on MSNBC in June, Díaz-Balart has had a mission to use fewer pundits and analysts and put more real voices on the air. In his inaugural hour, during the height of the illegal immigration crisis at the Texas border, he interviewed an undocumented teenager named Maria who’d entered the U.S. illegally after her brother was murdered in Honduras.

“It’s embarrassing that there aren’t more voices [like Maria's] on the air,” he says. But because all cable news roads lead back to politics, Díaz-Balart says real stories from people like Maria, play right into MSNBC’s wheelhouse. Read more

MSNBC Already Planning to Carry 2015 Global Citizen Festival: ‘This Aligns With Our Values’

Chris Hayes and Alex Wagner Global Citizens

MSNBC set aside “Lockup” and “Caught on Tape” for something much more noble and musical Saturday night. The network devoted nearly 1/3 of Saturday’s programming to the Global Citizen Festival, a 6-hour live concert in New York’s Central Park meant to draw attention to, and end, extreme poverty.

TVNewser went backstage as MSNBC anchors Chris Hayes and Alex Wagner hosted a one hour afternoon special, then anchored coverage into the night.

“There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than in Central Park, on an 80-degree day, with Alica Keys,” Wagner told us just as Keys took the stage.

Adds Hayes: “Cable news is a pretty repetitive undertaking… Tuesday, generally looks a lot like Monday. So anytime you’re doing something new that’s stretching some new set of muscles, it’s fun.”

The concert kicked-off with a set from Dutch DJ Tiësto, then continued with Alicia Keys, The Roots, Fun., and Carrie Underwood interspersed with remarks from the Queen of Sweden, the prime minister of India and the president of Rwanda.

As MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow conducted live interviews with heads of state and celebrity guests, NBC’s Tamron Hall spent much of the afternoon in the crowd interviewing attendees before hosting a primetime special on NBC. “This is phenomenal,” Hall told us before she took the stage. “When you attend an event like this and each person here did something for the world, that’s tremendous.”

This was the third Global Citizen Festival, and the first time MSNBC has been involved. MSNBC president Phil Griffin says it won’t be the last. “I can tell you we’re pretty much committed to doing next year. I guarantee it.”

“This aligns with our values,” Griffin tells TVNewser. “I love it that we’re connecting with all these people. And I think it’s important that we lead in this space.”

The concert culminated with Jay-Z and a surprise appearance by Beyonce closing the show with “Forever Young.”

(Photos: Chris Ariens)

Sharpton: ‘We Are Engaged in Immediate Conversations’ With WH Over Holder Successor

SharptonResponding to the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder today, MSNBC host and President of the National Action Network Al Sharpton suggested he’s in direct contact with the White House regarding Holder’s eventual successor.

In a statement, Sharpton lauded Holder while looking forward.

“The resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder is met with both pride and disappointment by the Civil Rights community. We are proud that he has been the best Attorney General on civil rights in U.S. history and disappointed because he leaves at a critical time when we need his continued diligence most. We are engaged in immediate conversations with the White House on their deliberations over a successor whom we hope will continue in the general direction of Attorney General Holder.

Sharpton later spoke to Business Insider to clarify the NAN’s involvement: “We did not say we are in the decision making. We are in conversation to reach out to them to have meetings about what we want to see in a successor.”

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Chuck Todd Signs off ‘The Daily Rundown,’ But Not on ‘The Daily Rundown’

ToddGuthrie

Chuck Todd‘s farewell to MSNBC wasn’t seen on MSNBC. The end of “The Daily Rundown” was pre-empted this morning by remarks from British Prime Minister David Cameron. But Todd recorded it anyway (after the jump). In it he talked about how TDR came to be: “It was a show that MSNBC president Phil Griffin, Savannah Guthrie and I conceived over lunch in Washington one day.” Todd thanked Griffin for not “micromanaging us. He let us be the driving force. Not a lot of executives do that.”

Earlier in the show — and this did make it on TV — Todd was surprised first by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and then by his former co-host Savannah Guthrie, who Skyped in from maternity leave. Todd begins his role as moderator of “Meet the Press” September 7. Andrea Mitchell hosts this Sunday. WATCH: Read more

Bill O’Reilly and Howard Kurtz Talk Al Sharpton’s Dual Activist, MSNBC Role

O'Reilly KurtzBill O’Reilly spoke with Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn last night about Al Sharpton‘s ongoing activism on behalf of Michael Brown while also hosting his MSNBC show.

“This is a travesty,” Kurtz said, citing Sharpton’s “political” eulogy at Brown’s funeral yesterday, meeting with Michael Brown’s family, and what Kurtz says is Sharpton’s “acknowledgment” that he is a conduit for the Obama administration for on-the-ground information on Ferguson.

“This just reeks that MSNBC thinks this acceptable…you can’t be a player and cover the game,” Kurtz added. O’Reilly chimed in he believes Sharpton “almost singlehandedly has corrupted NBC News,” dismissing MSNBC President Phil Griffin‘s defense that the network has been transparent about Sharpton’s dual roles. Yesterday, Sharpton spoke at Brown’s funeral in St. Louis in the afternoon and later hosted “PoliticsNation” from there at 6pmET. He led the show covering the funeral, playing parts of his eulogy off the top.

WATCH: Read more

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