New MSNBC Strategy: "Be Boring"SAs we more or less said, before, MSNBC's switch from all-crazy-pundit all-the-time (their two most unbalanced talking heads anchoring convention coverage? what can possibly go wrong!) to the more traditional "boring old guy who'll accept your bullshit with a smile" approach is a cowardly retreat by MSNBC president Phil Griffin, giving in to the outdated old methods of NBC News head Stave Capus and NBC head Jeff Zucker. It's a return to the "beat CNN at their game" idea, only that "game" is boring and they'll never beat them at it. Today's Observer explores the decision to kick Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews back down to their pundit kids table. It's a victory for the "serious" journalists of Washington, DC, and a terrible defeat for people who enjoy television.
Now word was spreading at MSNBC day side: Edge was out, caution was in. “Every day-side anchor, every producer, everybody was told the word on high is that no more edge,” said our source. “Be especially careful not to inject any sort of opinion or ridicule or anything like that. Play it straight down the middle. If you say something is not true, you have to say who’s claiming that it’s not true. The managers were saying, ‘Go for boring. That’s all we care about right now, be boring.’”
Oh, a brilliant maneuver! You are attracting attention and buzz, you say? Angering some partisans and pleasing others? Just like Fox did when they started? You'd better immediately start being boring, lest people begin to care about your third-place network. But who is really to blame for all this? Who may be more at fault than Griffin, Capus, and Zucker? You'll never guess!
“After Russert died and Brokaw appointed himself the custodian of the Russert legend, he began beating on Steve Capus and Jeff Zucker and Jeff Immelt that MSNBC was an embarrassment,” said the aforementioned source familiar with the inner workings of the newsroom. “It wasn’t a platform that Brokaw found dignified enough for his presence.”
Boo-hoo! Let Brokaw keep up his "elder statesman of respectability-through-longevity" routine on the network news and keep him off our cable shout-fest. Hell, bring on Dan Rather if you want an old-school anchor—he's got moxie. Crazy, crazy moxie. Which is what you need, MSNBC, in this time of strife. Hard Fall: What Happened to NBC? [NYO]