Home » » How to get ahead at MSNBC: Suck up to Zuck! go to the right parties! And if you're Phil Griffin, say that "Evil is always more interesting than good. I'm not passing judgment. It's just a fact."

How to get ahead at MSNBC: Suck up to Zuck! go to the right parties! And if you're Phil Griffin, say that "Evil is always more interesting than good. I'm not passing judgment. It's just a fact."

Written By mista sense on Monday, October 4, 2010 | 4:15 PM

Gabriel Sherman of New York magazine offers a fascinating peek into The Cable Game, focusing mostly on CNN and MSNBC, and making both ex-CNN chief Jon Klein and current MSNBC chief Phil Griffin look pretty bad.  Klein looks like a retrospective CYA-er, while Griffin looks a yes-man, a toady to Jeff Zucker, Keith Olbermann and anyone else.   By contrast, Fox, which Sherman acknowledges is #1, barely figures in the piece--evidently he didn't get much cooperation from Fox, so he had settle for a few blind quotes that could have come from just about anybody.

Sherman's scoop is that Klein tried to hire Keith Olbermann away from MSNBC in 2006.  Both Klein and Olbermann confirm it, the hire was kiboshed by CNN Worldwide Chief Jim Walton.  (Klein, now free to say whatever he wants, is evidently out to spin away the idea that he did nothing in the past few years as CNN tumbled in the ratings; the new line is that the real problem was not him, it was the suits in Atlanta.)

But there are plenty of other tidbits in the piece: As Sherman details, Klein insisted on staying in New York City, where he could eat lunch with friends; Sherman also adds that Klein "enjoyed reading his quotes in the Times."  In other words, a typical insular liberal.   And yet while Klein obviously cared about his social peers, he didn't seem to care about the audience.    As Sherman tells it,  many CNNers were against hiring Eliot Spitzer, warning that he would antagonize the audience.  To which Klein responded,"I don't give a fuck."  What a prince.  We can only assume that the audience got the message.

Moving along over to MSNBC, Sherman recalls such fiascoes as the hiring of Phil Donahue--a Griffin idea--even though the NY Mag writer ignores such disasters as the hiring of Alan Keyes and Michael Savage.  (Those ideas seem to have been the brainchild of onetime NBCU chieftain Bob Wright--way to go Bob!  But Griffin was there to say "Brilliant idea, sir!) 

The article makes it clear that Olbermann runs the network; meanwhile, Griffin was busy pursuing such follies as hiring Dan Abrams to run the network as "general manager."  As Sherman tells it, Abrams had no management experience and did a terrible job.  So where did he come from?  According to Sherman, "It also helped that Abrams, like Griffin was a Jeff Zucker friend and attended the same Hamptons parties as he did."  So that's how to get ahead at MSNBC!

One item from Sherman is so strange that TCG will just print it verbatim:

And wisecracking, high-spirited Phil Griffin, though his patron Jeff Zucker is gone, and new bosses at Comcast are on the way, knows which side his bread is buttered on. “Barack Obama was good in the lead-up, but I do think that in life, in Paradise Lost, Satan comes across much better than God. Evil is always more interesting than good,” he says. “I’m not passing judgment. It’s just a fact.”

How about that: Griffin cites "Paradise Lost," but comes to the same conclusion: "Satan comes across much better than God."  I guess that explains why Olbermann has done so well.

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