MSNBC executives are reportedly scrambling to find a new purpose for their network in the wake of the Robert Mueller investigation and its “disappointing” conclusions. Imagine you had built your cable news channel around the premise that, any day now, America would be welcoming its first female President. And then election night rolls around, and Donald Trump wins in a historic upset. What do you do? Just pretend like the last two years never happened? Pretend you hadn’t been telling your viewers for two years straight how glorious it would be when Hillary Clinton took the oath of office? Of COURSE people would turn out in droves!
But that’s pretty much the situation MSNBC is in. The daytime programming aside, which is probably just as bad at this point, their 5:00 – midnight block is all “Trump is Guilty, all the time.” From Chuck Todd to Ari Melber to Chris Matthews to Chris Hayes to Rachel Maddow to Lawrence O’Donnell to Brian Williams, this network has lied to their viewers for two years now. And you can go ahead and carve out a special bold platform for that block from Hayes to O’Donnell, with the worst of the propagandists right smack in the middle. How anyone can turn into Maddow’s show at this point for any other reason than pure, drunk entertainment is beyond us. In any just world, her career would be finished.
“Within MSNBC, there’s an acknowledgement that the Trump-Russia narrative on which the cable network—and especially its primetime star Maddow—built monster ratings has fizzled for the moment,” reported The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “Maddow, who has consistently vied for the first or second top-rated cable news program, was sixth on Monday evening, down almost 500,000 total viewers from the previous Monday, as was MSNBC’s second top-rated program in primetime, The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.”
Not to pretend there’s actually any way to salvage this sinking ship, but Maddow might have outperformed that cratering disaster if she’d just come clean with her viewers. “Hey guys, we got it wrong. Like, colossally. And we’re sorry.”
Instead, she kicked off her Monday night program with a list of fifteen “questions” she had about the letter Attorney General William Barr sent to Congress. In this defiance, she was not much different than the many, many writers on Salon, Slate, and the rest of the liberal blogosphere where the bubble is simply too thick – the business model too entrenched – to possibly go back now. They will now leave the cozy confines of speculating on an actual federal investigation and into the land of pure conspiracy theory.
There’s an audience for that, no doubt. We’re just not sure there’s enough of one to pay Maddow’s exorbitant salary.