Sad Dissolution of MSNBC

MSNBC and MHP – fading fast a Washington Post account of the latest state of MSNBC’s “transformation”.


The organization is abandoning the diversity of its program hosts, who are a very talented group. At the same time, the are trying to “up” their “breaking news” profile by joining in to the horse race coverage of the presidential election, and focusing on Brian Williams. Why? Good question. I don’t have a clue. Does he feel self conscious about his damaged reputation? Is he required as the figurehead “mansplainer”?

My best guess is that they are after the revenue generated by thriving conservative TV operations. Perhaps their plan to extend “Morning Joe” will encourage the retired breakfast set to tune in.

But there are two desperately sad observations I would offer. Melissa Harris-Perry does some of the best discussion next to Amy Goodman at Democracy Now. She is a public intellectual, which is so rare these days (peace to Umberto Eco). She always covered things other (white, mainstream, legacy) news operations did not. And even when the territory overlapped, is was presented from points of view that were broadly representative and often unheard (and speaking of OU Unheard, here is a bit about OU Unheard on MHP).


As she mentions in her staff email,

“After four years of building an audience, developing a brand, and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced. Now, MSNBC would like me to appear for four inconsequential hours to read news that they deem relevant without returning to our team any of the editorial control and authority that makes MHP Show distinctive. The purpose of this decision seems to be to provide cover for MSNBC, not to provide voice for MHP Show. I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC.”

So now here is the lineup in the “news channel” block on the AT&T U-Verse for my information purposes:

CNN, HLN, fusion, BBC, One America Network, Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC, CNBC, Aljazeera America, NHK, Bloomberg.


used-to-be-news, hair-like-nancygrace, 1980s-MTV-wannabe, BBC (still the standard), wants-to-be-Fox-by-being-a-little-more-conservative, IS-Fox, IS-Fox-for-pure-capitalism, MSNBC (the subject in question), NBC-for-pure-capitalism, soon-to-be-gone-in-April, what’s-up-in-Tokyo, and (finally) pure-PURE-capitalism.

(Cut to scene of bolt cutters approaching coaxial cable…)

My hope is that Al Jazeera English will return, since, as Jarvis pointed out about al Jazeera America:

They wanted to make respectable cable news.Though that sounds like a decent goal and motive—CNN for smart people, CNN that actually covers the news—the project fell off the cliff when it assigned old-style American TV news people to make old-style American TV news. They were well-intentioned but given the wrong mission: fixing old TV rather than inventing new TV and making American TV rather than making international TV.

Someone (CNN) ought to consider (CNN) making MHP (CNN) an offer (CNN) since quality content would be a good move. CNN. CNN?

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Ralph Beliveau Media Arts Area Head Associate Professor, Creative Media Production @ralphbeliveau Dr. Beliveau is on faculty for the Gaylord College and affiliate faculty in both Film and Media Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies. He co-authored Digital Literacy: A Primer on Media, Identity, and the Evolution of Technology (2016) and co-edited the forthcoming collection International Horror Film Directors: Global Fear (December 2016). He writes and teaches about media education and literacy, race, horror media, documentary, rhetorical criticism, video production, film, popular culture, music & cultural studies, and documentary theory production & history. He has written about network society, documentary rhetoric, horror media, The Wire, African American biographical documentaries, Alex Cox, Supernatural, Richard Matheson, Night Gallery, Italian film, and Paolo Freire and media literacy. He previously taught Radio/TV/Film at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and broadcast journalism, popular culture, and rhetoric while doing graduate work at the University of Iowa. Beliveau ran an FM radio station and cable television studio in Chicago and worked in Los Angeles in independent film and television production. He served as editor of the Journal of Communication Inquiry, chair of the Cultural and Critical Studies division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and chair of the Student Documentary Competition for the Broadcast Education Association. Beliveau is part of the team of faculty who leads the British Media Tour annually and also taught Italian Popular Film and Literature in the Journey to Italy program in Arezzo. Beliveau earned his B.S. from Northwestern University and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. More can be found at

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