Thursday, February 27, 2003

A "difficult public face for NBC in time of war." Phil Donahue's now-canceled MSNBC talk show will not be long lamented. Still, there remain questions as to whether he was done in solely by his show's pathetic ratings or for more sinister reasons. Rick Ellis, writing for the television website, says that MSNBC executives concluded that Donahue had to go because they didn't want an antiwar liberal in their prime-time line-up at a time when the White House is preparing to launch a war against Iraq.

Ellis cites an internal report that criticizes Donahue as "a tired, left-wing liberal out of touch with the current marketplace," and that goes on to call Donahue a "difficult public face for NBC in time of war." What's interesting about this is that Donahue's ratings, though miserable, were rising at the time that his show was canceled (as the New York Times reported earlier this week), and that his audience share was also bigger than that of longtime MSNBC host Chris Matthews. To be fair, Matthews has also been a persistent war critic; but his over-the-top anti-Clinton, anti-Gore diatribes of a few years back presumably give him some immunity among conservative cable news viewers.

But aren't they all watching Fox anyway?

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