An Open Letter To MSNBC: It’s Time To ‘Lean Forward’ Again

I have been an ardent viewer of MSNBC for years. I consumed the news from a liberal viewpoint voraciously, and I learned a lot from the hosts there. I refused to miss my favorite shows, such as Countdown With Keith Olbermann, The Ed Show With Ed Schultz, The Cycle, The Reid Report, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Ronan Farrow Daily. Sadly, those shows are all gone now. Thankfully, I still get All In With Chris Hayes, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell (though there are rumors that the network, inexplicably, may not renew O’Donnell’s contract).

Since the election of Donald Trump, liberal voices are more important than ever to resist Trump and his dangerously incompetent and authoritarian administration. However, we are seeing something troubling happening at MSNBC. Since the return of Andy Lack in 2015, a network that built its brand by appealing to left-leaning viewers is suddenly filling its slots with ex-Fox News employees.

Instead of giving Joy Reid a much-deserved primetime slot, the network has instead given it to conservative host Greta Van Susteren. Former George W. Bush White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace has replaced Steve Kornacki (though, to be fair, Wallace is a prominent GOP Trump critic).

There are even rumors that ultra-conservative Trump supporter Hugh Hewitt will be getting his own show as well, while Reverend Al Sharpton, who has had some of the most important conversations on race relations, is now relegated to a Sunday morning slot that no one will watch. Luckily, Joy Reid’s fans seem to be dedicated enough to where we all make a point to watch her show, even though it’s an absolute travesty that she is relegated to weekend mornings, while Wallace and Van Susteren are elevated to plum primetime slots.

As if this weren’t bad enough, the entire daytime line-up is nothing but straight news, with no liberal voices to speak of, but with PLENTY of air time for GOP congresspeople and senators to lie to the American people and defend the indefensible when it comes to Donald Trump.

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MSNBC, there used to be a time when my television would be on your channel around the clock for days at a time. Now, I find myself switching from Morning Joe to CNN’s New Day, from Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline: White House to CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, from The 11th Hour with Brian Williams to Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. If you want me – and many others – to return to being 24/7 MSNBC viewers, here are a few things you can do:

  • Keep Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Chris Matthews, and Chris Hayes right where they are
  • Cut Morning Joe down to one hour
  • Get rid of the “straight news” daytime line-up
  • Return Joy Reid and Al Sharpton to primetime where they belong
  • Bring in more talented people of color
  • Revive shows like The Cycle and Now With Alex Wagner or some version thereof to replace the straight news shows
  • Return Nicolle Wallace to guest-hosting and appearing as a guest on shows where she belongs
  • Get rid of Greta Van Susteren
  • Cancel any talks there may be to give Hugh Hewitt his own show
  • Try to win back Keith Olbermann, Alex Wagner, Toure, and Michael Eric Dyson (I realize that Ed Schultz and Melissa Harris-Perry will not return because of the way they left)
  • Realize that liberal viewers are fine with conservative guests and guest hosts, but aren’t particularly fond of tuning into a liberal network only to see right-wing shows peddling pro-Trump propaganda

Word to the wise – if you take away Rachel, Joy, Chris, Rev. Al and Lawrence, you will lose A LOT of viewers. What you are doing is absolutely inexplicable, considering the fact that your liberal voices are ratings rock stars right now, while the right-wing voices and straight news shows are cratering. Andy Lack and Phil Griffin, please remember what made MSNBC what it is: It’s liberal voices and liberal viewers. Nicolle Wallace, Greta Van Susteren, and Hugh Hewitt belong on Fox News. If we wanted to listen to right-wing lies and talking points, we’d watch Fox News.

Time to do some soul-searching, MSNBC. If you are caving to pressure from the Trump Administration, don’t. You’re only helping their attempt to turn America into an authoritarian state with state-run propaganda replacing the free press. Remember what the Fourth Estate is about, and what your job is.

Word on the street is that it is Andy Lack who is behind these disastrous changes. If so, it is HIS job that should be in jeopardy, not those of these strong, important, liberal voices. In short, it’s time, MSNBC, to remember who you are, and to Lean Forward once again.


Featured image via Jemal Countess/Getty Images for UNICEF