Speculations on MSNBC Shake Up

Ed SchultzI’m sure you’ve heard that MSNBC is moving Ed Schultz to weekends and moving in Chris Hayes to do his old time slot. In one way, I’m thrilled about this. Chris Hayes is a good, solid, and articulate liberal. He is the best thing that MSNBC has. I look forward to watching his show while I cook dinner each night. (I get the east coast feed.) But I’m kind of sad about what this says for the network and perhaps liberalism more generally.

MSNBC is a good example of how corporations are never liberal. Even when they are pushing liberal news, they still approach the whole thing in a way that goes against both the best impulses of liberals and conservatives. It is clear what the network is doing. They are trying to appeal to a younger (Hipper!) demographic. To put it bluntly: they are going after me.

I’ve always had my problems with Ed Schultz. He’s kind of a blowhard. He doesn’t signal that deep down he’s an intellectual (because he’s not). He is far too partisan. And yet: he is the best that liberalism is. He is the New Deal and the Great Society. He is the defender of labor unions and workers’ rights. He is a living symbol that every woman and man is best served by the Democratic Party that existed before it ran away from liberalism with its tail between its legs.

This isn’t to say the new generation isn’t strong and proud. Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes are hopefully the future of liberalism. Maybe they are a sign that the years Schultz worked through the Democratic Dark Ages will finally pay off. We need to hold up Ed Schultz as an ideal, not shove him into the weekend wilderness. But he will not be forgotten, because I will seek him out there. I’m sure I will be in good company.

Afterword

According to Peter Weber, a big part of Schultz’s departure is due to the demographics of his audience. He has very good ratings, but they skew too old. Clearly, MSNBC is going after this younger demographic—especially with Sean Hannity at 51 and Bill O’Reilly at 63. (Not to mention their audiences skewing even older.) Rachel Maddow is 39 and Chris Hayes, 34.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

5 thoughts on “Speculations on MSNBC Shake Up

  1. Spot-on about Schultz. He IS a blowhard; he’s not an expert on much of anything. But of all the MSNBC lineup, he’s the one that unapologetically says "no" to things like benefit cuts. And I’ve always appreciated having someone like him on our side who is kind of a redneck, loves his guns, and just has no patience whatsoever for plutocracy or the consensus centrist wisdom.

    A more serious question: why is it that, 100 years ago, so many prominent liberal advocates were really gifted writers and speakers who appealed to the poor? (Some, like Bryan, were rednecks; others, like LaFollette or Ingersoll, were pretty intellectual.) Today, it’s as if someone uses logic and reason instead of naked emotional appeal, they’re castigated as elitist/effete. I have my own theories as to why this is; I’d be curious to read yours.

  2. PS: Maddow’s only 39? She looks 45 to me. (Maybe that’s my Minnesota rearing its head; people age slower here, there’s no sun for six months.) Whereas Schultz just looks like that kind of amorphous Doughy White Guy who could be anywhere between 50-60.

    That could be just my crush on Maddow talking. And yes, I realize she’s a lesbian, and frankly I think her persecuted minority status makes many people I know forgive her for being less liberal than, by all rights, the people I know should forgive. They also forgive her for being cute as a sparkly collar dangling from a newborn puppy’s neck, as I do. She is adorable. I thought she was older, though.

  3. @JMF – Sorry, I’m behind on comments.

    I’m afraid politics has become professionalized. Those who do it, do it for campaigns. And that means they all (after a short time) become hacks just looking to get someone elected rather than to change the world for the better.

    But we do have great liberal writers. There are Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill to name just two. But most people don’t read. Unfortunately, about the best filmed social criticism comes from [i]The Simpsons[/i].

    I too thought Maddow was older. And Hayes younger! I thought there was a 15 year difference. This isn’t really about looks. Maddow does come off as a bit more mature and Hayes, precocious. Schultz, by the way, looks good for his 59 years.

    Overall, I think Maddow is fine with her views. My problem is her focus. She certainly makes a big deal out of minor victories. But I think this may be due to her positive outlook on life. She’s always looking for something to feel good about. I tend to be most happy with Melisa Harris-Perry when she gets angry. Liberals should be angry!

  4. Aagh, reading one’s old comments! I’m really an idiot often online. But I do stand by Maddow being adorable. She just is. It’s like Taibbi being cute as a a bug in his interviews; some people are. It’s their joyousness in what they’re doing.

    Unrelated (mostly), but did you see Larry Wilmore’s WHCD routine? It was mostly political -insider jokes (those always are), but I really do love the guy. My favorite line was how C-SPAN’s biggest competitor is the channel “HDMI 1 — No Input Detected.” What a nerd! He’s so great.

    • Yes, that was good. I spent the whole routine worried because I had heard of the “my nigga” line. And then it came and it seemed totally innocuous — charming in fact. Obama killed too.

      As for Maddow: she is very charming. But I think Chris Hayes is actually cuter. And I can more see sitting in a bar with him getting drunk to the point where we start calling Republicans Nazis. Although that’s strange, because it was Maddow who used to make drinks on her show.

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