The New York Times has an interesting article today about MSNBC, and their attempts to build around their most successful show, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," a program often critical of the Bush administration, much in the same way rival FOX 'News' is with Democrats and liberals.
MSNBC is increasingly seeking to beef up its nighttime viewing audience, and build around its golden calf. Chris Matthews’s "Hardball" and "Live With Dan Abrams," the two shows that surround "Countdown," regularly take shots at the White House.
And now, two NBC executives acknowledged yesterday that they were talking to Rosie O’Donnell about a prime-time show on MSNBC. Her previous show, ABC's "The View," experienced strong viewership gains during the time she was on. The Times speculates that she could get the 9PM slot, immediately following "Countdown," and go head-to-head with Larry King Live on CNN and
"Asshat and Doormat", er, "Hannity and Colmes" on FAUX. "We are talking to her, but we are far from a done deal," says one executive.
Here's more from the article:
Having a prime-time lineup that tilts ever more demonstrably to the left could be risky for General Electric, MSNBC’s parent company, which is subject to legislation and regulation far afield of the cable landscape. Officials at MSNBC emphasize that they never set out to create a liberal version of Fox News.
“It happened naturally,” Phil Griffin, a senior vice president of NBC News who is the executive in charge of MSNBC, said Friday, referring specifically to the channel’s passion and point of view from 7 to 10 p.m. “There isn’t a dogma we’re putting through. There is a ‘Go for it.’”
Fox News consistently denies any political bias in its programming. But whether by design or not, MSNBC is managing to add viewers at a moment when its hosts echo the country’s disaffection with President Bush.
The channel has done so much as Fox News did beginning in 1996, when the president was Bill Clinton, a Democrat. On some nights recently, Mr. Olbermann has even come tantalizingly close to surpassing the ratings of the host he describes as his nemesis, Bill O’Reilly on Fox News, at least among viewers ages 25 to 54, which is the demographic cable news advertisers prefer. Most of the time, though, Mr. O’Reilly outdraws Mr. Olbermann by about 1.5 million viewers over all at the same hour, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Still, as its most recognizable face, MSNBC has marshaled behind Mr. Olbermann, who on July 3, in an eight-minute “special comment” at the close of his show, addressed President Bush directly and called on him to resign. Two months later, the channel chose Mr. Olbermann to serve as the principal host of its coverage of a major prime-time address by Mr. Bush.
Mr. Olbermann’s “special comments” — more than 20 in the last 12 months, and nearly all of them first-person editorials that find some fault with the administration — have helped increase the ratings of his program by 33 percent in just the last year, to about 773,000 viewers a night, according to Nielsen. With those ratings, Mr. Olbermann’s program surpassed “Paula Zahn Now” on CNN, which was canceled last summer.
Read more in the New York Times.