It is no secret that MSNBC’s Morning Joe is hemorrhaging viewers. Over the past few months, the morning program has seen its audience bail in droves, seemingly heading over to CNN’s New Day, which has passed Morning Joe in both total viewers and the key 25-54 demographic. On Tuesday, Nielsen Media Research revealed that Monday’s program only attracted 56,000 viewers between 25 and 54 and 284,000 viewers overall. This was far behind New Day, which pulled in an audience of 125,000 from the 25-54 demo and a total of 341,000 viewers.
This news came on the heels of the disaster that was the much-hyped yet DOA Friday night broadcast. The network attempted to use co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough to help ‘hype’ up the Super Bowl, which NBC was airing. Despite the promise of a Katy Perry appearance, Morning Joe at Night feel completely on its face. Given both the 8 and 9 PM slots that are typically occupied by Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow, Mika and Joe were trounced by CNN, drawing nearly half as many viewers as Anderson Cooper in both slots. For context, the ratings-challenged Hayes beat Cooper by over 100,000 on Monday night while Maddow drew more than 400,000 viewers than CNN.
With it becoming painfully obvious that people are tired of the program, its format and (most of all) its hosts, the show decided to shake things up a bit Thursday. What exactly did they do to appeal to a younger demographic? They booked old, white, male Republicans, that’s what they did! Early on in the show, they brought on 78-year-old Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to complain about President Obama and convince everyone that endless war against ISIS is the way to go.
After grumpy old McCain’s appearance, Morning Joe did bring on a younger guest, 71-year-old Bill Bennett, a former Reagan cabinet member and current conservative radio host. Bennett was on to promote his most recent book about how marijuana is evil and America needs to stop trying to legalize it.
Another segment later on may not have had an old GOP chestnut on as a guest, but instead focused on what a well-known Republican wrote in an op-ed. The Morning Joe panel decided to discuss what Republican strategist and former “Bush Brain” Karl Rove had to say about the upcoming 2016 election and why Democrats will lose.
As Jason Easley pointed out last week when discussing the plummeting ratings of Morning Joe, the network’s chief seemingly has no clue as to who MSNBC’s potential viewers are, and has made decisions to continue to drive away the audience.
MSNBC boss Phil Griffin has continued to tout Morning Joe as one of his successes, but the reality is that MSNBC viewers have no interest in the program. The collapse of Morning Joe highlights one of the biggest inconsistencies in MSNBC’s strategy. Griffin claims that he wants to attract younger viewers to the network, but he appears to be completely in love with a program that does poorly with the same viewers age 25-54 that he is courting.
Morning Joe, along with the rest of MSNBC, is dying a slow ratings death. MSNBC lost 23% of their primetime viewers and 39% of their younger viewers in comparison to January 2014. The problems at MSNBC continue to be driven by leaders who have no clue who their potential viewers are, and what they want. The strategy of deploying series of Rachel Maddow clones throughout the schedule has chased viewers away while diluting the distinctiveness of their star program.
The decision to book McCain, who has never passed up a chance to appear in front of a camera, and Bennett, an old warhorse of the GOP who was there to lecture on smoking pot, shows the absolute disconnect this program, and likely the network, has with the viewers it is trying to attract. They just aren’t interested in Scarborough pushing tired Republican talking points while kissing up to conservatives.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).