Recent Bout of Terrible News Was Disastrous for MSNBC

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PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  (L-R) Host Joe Scarborough, co-hosts Mika Brzezinski, and Willie Geist speak onstage during the 'Morning Joe' panel during the NBCUniversal portion of the 2012 Winter TCA Tour at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 7, 2012 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Photo: Frederick M. Brown/2012 Getty Images

MSNBC’s ratings hit some record lows in the last quarter, according to the New York Times, with Rachel Maddow scoring her worst ratings ever and Morning Joe earning its second-worst numbers, with just 87,000 viewers in its target demographic. Among 25- to 54-year-olds, the network averaged just 125,000 viewers for its weekend lineup, down from 392,000 in the first quarter of 2009.

While the reasons for the dip are debatable, it certainly doesn’t help that the news cycle has been dominated by crisis after crisis recently, from Ferguson to ISIS to Ebola. Competitor CNN tends to perform better during major news events, and in June Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, admitted that the network is “not the place” for breaking coverage.

The network bills itself as “the place for politics,” but Griffin told the Times that the current lack of interest in American politics has hurt the network too. “You can look at the dysfunction in Washington, the wariness about politics, the low approval ratings,” he said. “That’s had an impact. But we’ve got to adjust; we’ve got to evolve.” Maybe it’s time to start asking if Ebola is the Watergate of diseases?

Recent Bout of Terrible News Was Awful for MSNBC