It must be something in the water at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
MSNBC is in talks with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt about creating a show for him on weekend evenings, four well-placed sources at the network tell Daily Intelligencer. Initially MSNBC was keen on having Hewitt host a program on weekend mornings, but that idea is off the table because Hewitt wants to be on in the evening, according to two sources. At one point, network management also floated moving Joy-Ann Reid’s popular weekend program AM Joy to the afternoon to serve as a lead-in for Hewitt and help jumpstart his ratings, but that plan has seemingly been dropped.
Hewitt is already part of the NBC News family as a paid commentator, but the fact that he’s on the verge of getting his own program is alarming to some staffers at MSNBC. Among their concerns is that Hewitt, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and Trump supporter, doesn’t represent the values of the liberal network. While Hewitt flirted with never-Trumpism during the campaign — most notably when then-candidate Trump attacked Mexican-American judge Gonzalo Curiel, and after the infamous Access Hollywood tape was leaked to the Washington Post — he always came back to Trump, and ultimately cast a ballot for him in the November election.
Much like the amoral decision by the New York Times to hire climate-change denier and right-wing egomaniac Bret Stephens, this decision seems borne of a belief by MSNBC executives that the channel is perceived by the general public to be indistinguishable from, say, The Young Turks or Democracy Now!, and that this ideological “imbalance” needs to be “corrected.” (This mentality is presumably one of the driving forces behind the creation of former GOP operative Nicolle Wallace’s new show on the channel). Do these folks realize that people who hate MSNBC today will hate the channel tomorrow–and forever? Like Prince’s parents in the song “When Doves Cry,” right-wingers are too bold and never satisfied; MSNBC could fire every left-leaning host and replace them with right-wingers, and the network still wouldn’t be able to lure right-wing viewers away from Fox News or One America News Network.
In fact, MSNBC’s bizarre chase for right-wing viewers has already been a proven failure:
[MSNBC] also hired former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren and gave her the 6 p.m. slot on MSNBC’s weekday schedule. Since Van Susteren’s show debuted in January, the ratings have been, by any objective measure, abysmal. In a rare occurrence for that spot, her numbers have actually been lower than those of her lead-in program, Chuck Todd’s Meet the Press Daily. Van Susteren’s hire was not well-received internally at MSNBC, with Chris Matthews being especially frustrated by the decision, according to two network sources.
The joy of watching Keith Olbermann’s fiery GQ commentaries is tempered by the fact that he would never be allowed to pound away at the President in this bold fashion were he still at MSNBC, that the channel’s executives would have leaned on him to turn it down and tone it down in the name of not offending Trump’s thin-skinned supporters. What will MSNBC executives say if Hewitt’s proposed program fails miserably? Will they finally understand that there’s actually not that big of a market for far-right agitprop on cable TV?