Hell is 4 hours of "Morning Joe": Why MSNBC just made a horrible & disappointing mistake

MSNBC is in reinvention mode — so why is it giving a boost to its most insulting & predictable program?


Jack Mirkinson
September 4, 2015 8:15PM (UTC)

The world may sometimes feel like a vast sea of greed, evil and misery, but surely the citizens of the planet have not done enough terrible things to deserve a having a fourth hour of "Morning Joe" foisted upon them.

Yet, according to Mediaite's well-sourced Joe Concha, that is precisely what MSNBC is about to do. In the latest of what is looking like a near wholesale clear-out, Concha writes that the network is going to ditch its current 10 a.m. hour, hosted by Jose Diaz-Balart, and give viewers an extra helping of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski instead.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that the only fourth hour of a morning show that has ever worked is the fourth hour of the "Today" show. But Joe and Mika are no Hoda and Kathie Lee. The latter bring joy and delight to the world; the former lay waste to all that is good and true.

Alright, so that may be pushing it a bit. Things could be worse. MSNBC could be hiring Chris Cuomo away from CNN, for instance. But the fact remains that "Morning Joe" is the perfect representation of so much that is wrong in our media world. Most TV shows at least pretend like they're speaking to Jane Public out there, but "Morning Joe" openly gloats about its insularity and elitism. It is explicit in its disdain for the world beyond the establishment. It treats sneering arrogance as a positive thing. It has never met a billionaire CEO it couldn't venerate or a warmongering pundit it couldn't toast.

The show is equally transparent in its attempts to protect the powerful. When reporters were getting arrested by rampaging cops in Ferguson, Scarborough took the lead in dismissing them as showboating kids. When The Daily Beast's Tim Mak raised questions about frequent "Morning Joe" guest Donald Trump's troubling history with women, Brzezinski practically tore Mak's head off.

It's not as though tons of people watch any of this, either. "Morning Joe" routinely comes in third in the all-important A24-54 demo. But the show is venerated by the chattering class, and, since it's the MSNBC program most favored by politicians—especially Republican politicians—it's getting an election-year promotion. God help us all.

That's not the only thing that MSNBC is reportedly doing, though. Concha also says that NBC's Kate Snow is getting an afternoon slot, further cementing MSNBC's shift away from opinion programming during the day. It's anyone's guess as to whether or not that will work, but nothing else has, so MSNBC is essentially throwing up its hands.

One especially troubling side effect of these moves is that MSNBC has almost completely eliminated all of its hosts of color from the airwaves. The network used to put its rivals to shame when it came to the variety of voices it put on TV. In the past year, though, anchors like Joy Reid, Al Sharpton, Karen Finney, Alex Wagner and Touré have all found themselves either pushed out of their hosting jobs or relegated to weekend backwaters. Now, MSNBC is apparently yanking Diaz-Balart, its only Latino host, from the lineup as well. It's a dispiriting step backwards. MSNBC would probably say that it was only going where the ratings led it, but it's a big problem that its solutions to its current crisis seem to involve such a thorough retrenchment when it comes to diversity. When you add that depressing element into the mix, giving "Morning Joe" even more time to torment us looks even worse than it already did.

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Jack Mirkinson

Jack Mirkinson is a writer living in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @jackmirkinson.

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