MSNBC Makeover And The White House Race
Originally posted at MediaPost
By J. Max Robins
Last April, when Andy Lack returned to NBC to take the reins of the beleaguered news operation he had deftly run for eight years from 1993-2001, he had to play fire chief -- and fast. Megastar anchorman Brian Williams was benched for his resume-inflating lack of truthiness, the cash juggernaut the “Today” show had become an also-ran to ABC's “Good Morning America” -- and MSNBC was bleeding viewers and in the midst of an identity crisis.
When Lack completes the first year of his return engagement next month, he will have a couple of things to celebrate. The “NBC Nightly News” with William's replacement Lester Holt is No. 1, and “Today” often beats "GMA" in the coveted 25-54 news demo, as well as on occasion is overall viewers. MSNBC, however, remains -- in the most generous terms -- a work in progress.
However, even there, Lack may be able to make lemonade out of a lemon situation, now that Brian Williams is firmly ensconced as MSNBC's prime news anchor after his six-month suspension.
All the key NBC News franchises in Lack's domain, including Williams, have benefited from “The Donald effect,” which has also been a bonanza not only for the Peacock news machine, but for all its main competitors. Not since the O.J Simpson murder trial over 20 years ago have news organizations -- in particular, cable news networks -- feasted on ratings bait as they have on “The Apprentice: White House Edition.”