The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

13 May 2009

Libtalker Ed Schultz Still Struggling On MSNBC


MSNBC Cheerleaders Attempt To Salvage Failing Program

*** NEW: Boston Host Remains MIA ***

Can the poorly-considered decision to hire Ed Schultz at MSNBC yet be salvaged? Ahead of what could be a make-or-break month for his low-rated program, some of the syndicated libtalker's media allies appear to have launched a salvage effort.

Given his sagging numbers, this can't come a moment too soon: last Friday, Schultz (shown in front row during Obama press conference) averaged just 108,000 viewers in the key 25-54 demo, while Thursday came in even worse with a mere 84,000. His competition at FOX, Bret Baier, often turns in numbers 400% higher during that hour.

Previously, we've covered Schultz, his hot temper and sometimes bizarre antics, there's a round-up of Big Eddie's greatest hits here.

Today at the Politico, Schultz's presence at the leftist cable network was noted in two places, both from Michael Calderone. In the main piece, excuses seem to be made for Ed's poor performance to date:

In an interview after the show was over, Schultz said his new MSNBC gig is a “dream come true.”

“I always thought I could play well in the big city,” Schultz said, “and now we’re going to find out.”

What’s obviously a big opportunity for Schultz is also another chance for MSNBC to make gains at 6 p.m. The network has consistently been beaten by CNN and Fox News, the latter holding a commanding lead during not only the 6 p.m. hour but throughout prime time.

So can yet another liberal voice help MSNBC close the ratings gap?

MSNBC President Phil Griffin said that he’d long been “intrigued” by Schultz’s appearances on “Hardball” and other MSNBC shows. Last fall, Griffin started listening more frequently to Schultz’s popular radio show. In February, the men met over coffee in Washington, where Schultz had just bought a home, and Griffin found his next hire to be “engaging,” “honest” and “authentic.”

By mid-March, rumors surfaced that the network was interested in Schultz, who had filled in for David Shuster on “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” — the show hosted by David Gregory until he got the “Meet the Press” job in December. On April 1, MSNBC announced the creation of “The Ed Show,” which premiered the following Monday.

“I think doing the kind of program Shuster was doing wasn’t the right fit for that hour,” Griffin said. “I think you need a big personality to drive that hour, to compete.”

The problem for Griffin — and now for Schultz — is that at the same hour “The Ed Show” airs, 8 million to 10 million would-be viewers are already watching Brian Williams on “NBC Nightly News.”

How does that explain the comparatively strong performance of his rivals, however, who must also compete with evening newscasts? In addition, how do Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren manage to thrive up against primetime network programming?

An entertaining host can overcome competition. While no one expected monstrous numbers from Schultz right off the bat, this sounds like excuse-making for an especially poor showing to date.

So how about some critical coverage of MSNBC's underperformance?

Following up, TVNewser noted Schultz's dubious gains over the ground zero-level programming previously found in his slot:

MSNBC president Phil Griffin describes the switch from David Shuster to Schultz. "I think doing the kind of program Shuster was doing wasn't the right fit for that hour," Griffin said. "I think you need a big personality to drive that hour, to compete."

Mark Jurkowitz of the Project for Excellence in Journalism says the network "doubled down" on a liberal lineup with Schultz' hiring, and former MSNBC anchor Dan Abrams calls it "a really smart move," because "his tone, topics and worldview are consistent with the rest of MSNBC's prime time."

So far in Schultz' first full month, MSNBC has improved 9% in Total Viewers from the prior month and 15% year-to-year. But the show is still in 3rd place. Says Schultz: "I've been in the arena of what MSNBC focuses on, and that's independent progressive."

How is MSNBC "independent"? Given its unapologetic and unquestioning loyalty to the Obamists and hard-left partisan schedule, does anyone actually believe this?

Need an example? From Jeff Poor at NewsBusters, here's one of many:

(David) Shuster, filling in for anchor Chris Matthews on the MSNBC's May 12 broadcast of "Hardball" took aim at "The O'Reilly Factor" host for his opposition of same-sex marriage.

"Next stop, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly - who was at it again last night gripping his usual five-alarm bell over gay marriage," Shuster said.

Shuster, off a story from his usual array of left-wing storefronts he uses as sources, played a clip from the May 11 "The O'Reilly Factor," which O'Reilly warned of the slippery slope that might be created if same-sex marriage were legalized. O'Reilly asked his guest Margaret Hoover if that could lead to marrying a turtle if one wanted to.

Shuster's conclusion from O'Reilly's questions - he hates gay and lesbians or his mental health is in question.

"Marry a turtle? That argument is so ridiculous, so illogical and so stupid one can only presume Bill O'Reilly really hates gay and lesbians and doesn't want to talk about it or his cognitive reasoning skills have hit cuckooland, if you know what I mean."

No, we don't.

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  • Slowing losing his mind, Maloney writes:
    Obamists and hard-left partisan schedule, does anyone actually believe this?

    hard left????? Try main-stream "liberal"... You just do not get it, you are the fringe, you are the 20%

    MSNBC represents mainstream American politics which is not "hard left". Fox News is hard-right, caterig to the 20% of this country that still clings to Rona;d Reagan's corpse

    You are the minority
    You are irrelevant
    You are the fringe

    You and Limbaugh no longer represent America. The 3 million Fox viewers are all that remains of the conservative movemen and the GOP

    live with it, Brian.

    and Ed, has a JOB, you blog
    Ed is on the radio, you blog
    Ed has a TV show, you blog and occasionaly embarass yourself on O'riley's comedy hour

    By Anonymous 20%=Fox'sentireaudience, at 13 May, 2009 15:32  

  • unbelievable. I turned this guy on last night by accident and I could not believe it. We really need another dishonest program. He went off on the whole "torture" debate. His comments cherry picked information and was outright dishonest to draw his pre-conceived conclusion. That was all I could tolerate.

    By Blogger Doug, at 13 May, 2009 16:50  

  • Big Ed Schitz is headed for the crapper. I wonder if his out house is a two holer?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13 May, 2009 21:19  

  • MoPoop, You are so pathetic that not even MSNBC will pick you up as a host.

    By Blogger PCD, at 14 May, 2009 08:39  

  • The Guy is an idiot but some people like watching idiots, evidently not many but it's a free country "so far" and the crazys need TV, too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 May, 2009 09:04  

  • Yeah I agree that most people must like watching idiots. That's why Fox news has so many viewers. They are the idiots.

    By Anonymous Deever Dave, at 14 May, 2009 11:53  



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 May, 2009 18:28  

  • MSLSD attracts the uneducated and uninformed and looney and if not for them they would have no audience.

    Hey that describes MOP to the tee. MOP the far left loon. Has nothing in his life but telling lies on the Internet. In real life he knows he would get smacked for telling those lies. But I guess he’s good for a laugh once in a while.

    MOP you’re a stagehand wow we are so impressed. What a loser trying to tear others down because he’s such a loser.

    By Anonymous PF1, at 15 May, 2009 08:57  

  • How anyone can categorize what goes on on MSNBC as mainstream liberal and suggest that this represents mainstream politics...they haven't made the computer keyboard that is capable of typing a response to such kuhscheiße!!! Um-m-m, 20%=Fox'sentireaudience, what color is the sky in your world? I should think that even an obviously hard-core liberal as yourself could understand that it's a matter of simple common sense. There is no magical potion that Fox employs to lure unsuspecting viewers over to its programs. Nope, they're just giving the people what they REALLY want and the people are flocking to it. With precious scant exceptions, the on-air personalities at MSNBC have none- they are sophomoric, mean-spirited, intolerant, one-note idealogues who can't admit to themselves or their paltry audiences that THEY are the marginalized ones; which means, by default, so are their viewers. Face it, 20%, Obama was a fluke and the American people have finally begun to recognize their grave error. Rest assured it WILL be rectified beginning in 2010.
    Enjoy your virtual sense of superiority until then.

    By Anonymous gobnait, at 16 May, 2009 16:39  

  • Big Eddie Rules (period) !

    By Anonymous Anonymous One, at 30 May, 2009 03:21  

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