Former NBC comedy star and MSNBC interview host Alec Baldwin has announced in a New York Magazine cover story that he is quitting public life after being let go by MSNBC over language he used in an on-the-street rant against a photographer. In the piece, Baldwin calls MSNBC star Rachel Maddow a “phony” who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera as she appears to have on-camera,” according to the interview that was published late last night. In late November, MSNBC and Alec Baldwin‘s camp announced jointly that Baldwin’s Friday show was toast: “We are jointly confirming that Up Late will not continue on MSNBC,” the cable network and Baldwin rep Matthew Hiltzik said. Added MSNBC: “This is a mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best.” It was the first MSNBC had spoken about Up Late’s suspension, Baldwin having announced earlier that month the network had suspended his show for two weeks. That came after TMZ posted a video clip in which he was seen tearing into a photographer with what the press reported sounded like at least one gay slur and possibly two, though Baldwin denied uttering the second one, and said he did not realize the first was a slur.
Alec Baldwin Announces Retirement From Public Life In Magazine Cover, Calls MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow “Phony”
A tumultuous year for cable news networks wrapped with all of them having experienced some kind of ratings ding compared to ’12 – except HLN, whose currency is court trials, not presidential election cycles. 2013 was the year of the George Zimmerman and Jodi Arias trials – a good year for HLN.
Perennial cable news ratings leader Fox News Channel wound up ‘13 ranked No. 6 in primetime among all ad-supported cablers – behind USA, ESPN, History, TBS and TNT – with an average audience of 1.761 million viewers. (For comparison sake, MSNBC ranked No. 29 with 640,000 viewers, and CNN ranked 32nd with 568,000. HLN brought up the rear, with a primetime average of 395,000 viewers, but that’s a 22% year-to-year improvement.)
FNC made headlines this year when it revamped its primetime slate in October, adding Megyn Kelly at 9 PM, and moving Sean Hannity to 10 and Greta Van Susteren to 7. Since the change, all four of FNC’s primetime shows are up in total viewers and in the demo compared to year to date averages with Kelly’s show up the most: 10% in the news demo and 20% in overall audience.
Jeff Zucker took over the reins at CNN at the start of ’13; the network edged back up to No. 2 in total day, but remained in third place in prime, behind MSNBC, with its smallest ratings in two decades. That said, CNN’s weekday primetime programs saw some growth, including Anderson Cooper’s double-digit improvement, and a Piers Morgan inch-up.
Fueled by coverage of the secret Mitt Romney tape, The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 PM ET pulled in the top ratings among adults 25-54 for the week of September 17, besting Fox News Channel’s Hannity for the first time since January 19, 2009. Maddow was No. 1 with 567,000 and Hannity was second with 500,000. CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight placed third with 198,000. The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell (Monday – Thursday) at 10 PM also came in at No. 1 for the week with 508,000. FNC’s On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren was second with 427,000 and CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 was third with 224,000. This was the best week ever for The Last Word and the best delivery in the time period since week of November 3, 2008, according to MSNBC.
MSNBC today named Al Sharpton as host of PoliticsNation, a new hourlong program topped by the civil rights activist and minister that will air weeknights at 6 PM ET, kicking off the network’s evening schedule. MSNBC president Phil Griffin made the announcement about the show, on which Sharpton “will lead a lively and informed discussion of the top headlines, bringing viewers his take on events in his signature style.” It debuts Monday. The move to bring in Sharpton had been expected as he already was guest-hosting in the hour, filling the slot vacated last month when the network jettisoned Cenk Uygur after it “decided to make a change.” (Later, Uygur claimed he was told to “tone it down” and bring in more Republican guests, prompting him to walk away; at the TCAs, Griffin said he would welcome Uygur back.) MSNBC has been busy shoring up its lineup, inking a multi-year deal with Rachel Maddow and adding The Nation editor Chris Hayes as host of a weekend news block.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
MSNBC Announces Multi-Year Contract With Rachel Maddow
MSNBC president Phil Griffin, appearing on the cable news network’s Tuesday panel at TCA alongside hosts Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Matthews, said the door is still open to “Young Turk” Cenk Uygur, who abruptly left the network July 20. Griffin said he was surprised by the departure, although he does not feel that the host worked in the 6 PM time slot. “We wanted Cenk to stay at MSNBC; he fits our sensibility,” he said. “I don’t think all good people are going to succeed at 6 o’clock. We were working on a new contract to have him on the weekends; I was disappointed that he didn’t stay and hope we will work out that he comes back. … I have nothing bad to say about him. He was terrific.” Griffin said no decision has been made about putting Al Sharpton in Uygur’s former slot but that the civil rights leader “fits into MSNBC.”
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow was a panelist on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher last night and the host brought up Keith Olbermann exit, which had just been announced. Here is the duo’s exchange: