I’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.
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.