They will still be on to serve as analysts, but MSNBC will not use them to anchor upcoming debates and other political news events. They said the experiment didn’t work. Gee, what a shock. How could they ever have guessed that a tinfoil hat wearing Kos conspiracy diarist would have trouble anchoring a political event in an unbiased way? Or even a semi-unbiased way? Matthews could pretend to be a journalist if he could put a delay switch on his mouth. Instead his mouth frequently starts before his brain engages.
MSNBC tried a bold experiment this year by putting two politically incendiary hosts, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, in the anchor chair to lead the cable news channel’s coverage of the election.
That experiment appears to be over.
After months of accusations of political bias and simmering animosity between MSNBC and its parent network NBC, the channel decided over the weekend that the NBC News correspondent and MSNBC host David Gregory would anchor news coverage of the coming debates and election night. Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews will remain as analysts during the coverage.
The change — which comes in the home stretch of the long election cycle — is a direct result of tensions associated with the channel’s perceived shift to the political left.
Executives at the channel’s parent company, NBC Universal, had high hopes for MSNBC’s coverage of the political conventions. Instead, the coverage frequently descended into on-air squabbles between the anchors, embarrassing some workers at NBC’s news division, and quite possibly alienating viewers. Although MSNBC nearly doubled its total audience compared with the 2004 conventions, its competitive position did not improve, as it remained in last place among the broadcast and cable news networks. In prime time, the channel averaged 2.2 million viewers during the Democratic convention and 1.7 million viewers during the Republican convention.
Check OlbyWatch to see video from some of the coverage this election season that undoubtedly led to the decision by NBC.
Update: Did Chris Matthews get the boot so that Keith Olbermann could save face?