Inside MSNBC’s large shakeup


When Axios broke the information Wednesday night time that MSNBC was extending “Morning Joe” by an hour and changing Brian Williams on the 11 p.m. ET hour with Stephanie Ruhle, even prime producers had been caught off guard.

Why it issues: The leak despatched leaders at MSNBC scrambling to deal with questions internally about what a fourth hour of “Morning Joe” would appear like, together with which producers can be answerable for the extra programming, and the way a 9 a.m. hour would cater to a West Coast viewers.

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  • Provided that MSNBC President Rashida Jones and NBCUniversal Information Group Chairman Cesar Conde first approached the “Morning Joe” hosts with the plan round two weeks in the past, most of the particulars weren’t absolutely baked, in keeping with a supply accustomed to the discussions.

Particulars: With “Morning Joe” marking its fifteenth yr in September, and with scores persevering with to beat CNN within the mornings, Jones, Conde and different executives thought an extension of the present made sense. However they solely started to think about it severely just a few weeks in the past, as soon as it was determined that Ruhle would transfer to the 11 p.m. hour, leaving her 9 a.m. slot open.

  • Hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who’re married and deeply concerned within the present’s day-to-day operations, had been excited in regards to the concept, however had questions on what the extension would imply for his or her workers, in keeping with a supply accustomed to their considering.

  • Along with producing “Morning Joe” from 6 to 9 a.m. ET, the identical workforce additionally produces “Manner Too Early” at 5 a.m. ET.

  • An extra hour at 9 a.m. ET would open up a possibility for “Morning Joe” to deal with West Coast audiences. However that additionally meant the present’s workforce would want to determine new protection plans.

  • Ruhle, a senior enterprise correspondent for NBC Information and a former financial institution govt, anchored the present when markets opened, and sometimes introduced on friends based mostly on the West Coast to speak about tech and enterprise information.

Catch up fast: Even earlier than William’s departure final winter, senior executives started mulling important lineup modifications in 2022, in keeping with two sources accustomed to their considering.

  • A prime precedence can be leaning additional into acquainted franchises and determining how prime expertise could possibly be utilized to spice up streaming efforts.

  • In August, the community introduced it could be increasing Nicolle Wallace’s present, “Deadline: White Home,” to 2 hours and would transfer Chuck Todd’s weekday present, “MTP Every day” (for “Meet the Press”) earlier within the afternoon.

  • A couple of weeks later, the community’s highest-rated star, Rachel Maddow, reached a multiyear cope with NBCUniversal to run a manufacturing firm that might broaden her portfolio of initiatives with the community, however would take away her from her day-to-day internet hosting duties on the 9 p.m. ET primetime hour later in 2022.

Be sensible: A number of staffers Axios spoke with mentioned leaders had been caught off guard when the story broke.

  • Simply hours earlier than Axios’ story printed, NBC Information leaders hosted a name with workers about community updates. The subject of who would exchange Maddow and Williams was one of many first questions they had been compelled to reply.

  • Jones mentioned she would inform staff extra in regards to the 11 p.m. ET hour when there was one thing to share. She didn’t present an replace on who would exchange Maddow, however famous that Maddow’s not going far.

  • One other supply mentioned Jones was unable to get on the telephone with staffers of “The eleventh Hour,” Williams’ former turf, earlier than the information got here out.

  • Requested for remark, Jones mentioned: “We’re very excited for our viewers to be rolling out the brand new lineup for ‘Morning Joe’ and Stephanie, and the way their voices slot in our broader imaginative and prescient for programming throughout this consequential yr.”

What’s subsequent: Ruhle is anticipated to start anchoring “The eleventh Hour” in just a few weeks, in keeping with a community supply accustomed to MSNBC’s plans. Staffing plans and manufacturing logistics for the 9 a.
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m. hour are nonetheless being labored out.

Disclosure: NBC is an investor in Axios and Sat Brainch, chief business officer of NBCU Information Group, is a member of the Axios board. Axios journalists seem on MSNBC.

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