Countdown with Keith Olbermann

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Posted by bender 03/10/2009 @ 00:13

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Olbermann: "WTF!?!, Michael Steele?" -
By Julie Bolcer MSNBC Countdown host Keith Olbermann made Republican party chairman Michael Steele the subject of his “WTF!?! Moment” on Monday night, smacking down the GOP leader for his new argument that marriage equality will cost small business...
Keith Olbermann's Ego Trumps the Truth - Gawker
The story that CityFile originally reported was that Olbermann was so upset about the decision by Ben Affleck — who had mercilessly mocked Olbermann on SNL — to appear on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show that Olbermann wouldn't go back to his Countdown set...
Keith Olbermann Wants Sean Hannity Waterboarded - Associated Content
After hearing Sean Hannity's proclamation, ultra-liberal, ultra-pinstriped political commentator Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann announced on his program on Thursday night's program that he would like to see Sean Hannity put...
Chris Matthews Savages Arlen Specter for His 'Bro' Keith Olbermann - Gawker
Matthews took the opportunity to do so not on his own Hardball but on Olbermann's Countdown tonight. Matthews was an ideal guest to talk about Specter: He recently considered returning to politics to run for senate from Pennsylvania,...
CNN: Cooper in the Crapper - NewsBusters
Anderson is losing almost 20% of his lead-in from Larry King and is in danger of being passed in the ratings by MSNBC's 10 pm repeat of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." Since the start of 2009, Cooper has lost one-third of his audience. Ouch....
MSNBC, CNN Ratings Plunge as O'Reilly Reigns -
Ratings for “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” on MSNBC at 8 pm have plunged a dizzying 42 percent since October, shortly before the election. CNN's 8 pm show, now being hosted by Roland Martin, has seen a 49 percent plunge over that time period,...
"The Soup" host buys in Sammamish - Blockshopper
He is also an occasional guest on the "Opie and Anthony" show as well as on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." He previously held small roles on the shows "Oliver Beene," "CSI: Miami," "Will & Grace," "Thank God You're Here" and "Pushing Daisies...
Protest-free Janeane Garofalo gig rings true - Boston Herald
Garofalo, in town for the Alternative Comedy Festival, caused a stir among conservatives last month when she called tax protestors, also known as tea baggers, racists on MSNBC's “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” Despite nasty e-mails and blog posts...
Olbermann names Hannity, O'Reilly, and Beck "Worst Persons" - Media Matters for America
When I want to watch Keith olbermann Ed Schultz or Rachel Maddow, I can't use my television, I have to go online. by fairliberal (48 minutes ago) Ridiculous, I do not have Cablevision and I can get MSNBC. by ettucat (4 hours and 9 minutes ago) I...
Number-one story on Countdown last night: Miss California has fake ... - TPMCafé
Last night in MSNBC's Countdown, Keith Olbermann reported -- in what he called the "number-one story" of his program -- that it's been revealed that Miss California, who became famous for stating her opposition her gay marriage in the recent Miss USA...

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Countdown with Keith Olbermann logo.jpg

Countdown with Keith Olbermann is an hour-long weeknight news commentary program on MSNBC which airs live at 8 p.m. Eastern Time and reruns at 10 p.m., 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on weekdays. The show, hosted by Keith Olbermann, debuted on March 31, 2003 and counts down five selected news stories of the day with news reports and interviews with guests, along with commentary by Olbermann.

The show is the highest-rated program on MSNBC. In the first quarter of 2008, the show averaged 907,000 viewers a day, compared with about 550,000 viewers for Hardball with Chris Matthews which airs before it. This is an increase of about 230,000 daily viewers from the third quarter of 2007. Countdown has been referred to as the "flagship" MSNBC franchise, so much so that on February 15, 2007 Olbermann received a four-year contract extension, which includes two Countdown primetime specials on NBC.

The show is known for Olbermann's fast-paced rhetorical style, historical and pop culture references, ready interjections, and strong and often scathingly stated opinions. Olbermann melds news stories, both serious and light, with commentary, much of it critical of the Bush administration. The show has been the source of some controversy due to these criticisms, as well as its host's ongoing criticism of Fox News Channel – which he refers to as "Fixed News", "Fox Noise", "Faux News", and "Fixed Noise" – and his feud with rival commentator Bill O'Reilly of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, whose show runs directly opposite Countdown.

Since October 22, 2007, the show airs live from NBC Studios 1A's Second Floor at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City, and is currently published shortly thereafter each weeknight in its commercial-free entirety on the iTunes Store podcast directory, and in segment form, with shorter interstitial ads, on the show's web site.

Countdown originally was titled Countdown: Iraq. It premiered on October 7, 2002 and was hosted by Lester Holt. It focused completely on the military and diplomatic actions which would become the Iraq War. Countdown: Iraq aired at 7pm and replaced a show hosted by Jerry Nachman, which was moved up to 5pm before its eventual termination. In addition, a daytime version of Countdown entitled Countdown: 2002 Election aired from October 25, 2002 to November 2002.

After the new incarnation of Donahue was terminated on February 28, 2003, and because of the build-up to the start of the war, Countdown: Iraq expanded to a two hour program, from 7-9pm Eastern Standard Time. Ironically, President Bush's deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq was set for 7pm EST on March 19, 2003 the exact time the final Countdown: Iraq program started to air, the war began that evening Washington time. After the Iraq War began there was no need for the show in its current form since it was focused on covering the run up to the war. Also MSNBC went wall-to-wall with coverage of the war during the first few weeks of the invasion, removing the need for differentiated programing.

On March 28, 2003, MSNBC announced it was hiring Keith Olbermann to host the 8pm hour of Countdown. The show dropped the Iraq subtitle and was retitled Countdown with Keith Olbermann. The 7pm hour of Countdown was turned over to Hardball with Chris Matthews. Holt was moved to anchor rolling news coverage during the day.

Countdown is a nightly news and commentary program, covering a selection of national and international stories which provide fodder for the host's analysis and opinions. Clips from NBC network news broadcasts are featured on a regular basis.

According to The Cornell Daily Sun, Olbermann has a staff of roughly ten to twelve people who work on the show's editorial content. They spend the morning looking for noteworthy or interesting stories. The group meets via conference call at 11am for a half-hour discussion to toss around possible subjects for the evening's show (many times pulling information from online sites like and By 12:15, Olbermann receives a final list of story prospects, picks what he likes, and puts them in order. He emails the list back to the staff, and the writing process begins. He arrives at MSNBC's studios, originally in Secaucus, but now at the GE Building in Manhattan by 2:00 p.m. and works on writing the show's material in his office until 7:30, when he goes to makeup, before going on air at 8pm.

The punctuating theme music to the show's countdown is the opening eight beats of the second movement, a scherzo, of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, the "Choral". The theme is a historical reference to NBC's pioneering newscast Huntley-Brinkley Report with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, which featured the scherzo of Beethoven's 9th over the credits.

Former The Most host Alison Stewart was the primary guest host for Countdown until the end of 2007. Other occasional substitute guest hosts have included Alex Witt, David Shuster (a regular contributor to the show), Amy Robach, and Brian Unger. From April 2008 until September 2008 Rachel Maddow hosted Countdown in Olbermann's absence. This ended when she was given her own show The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. On December 23 2008, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall substituted for Olbermann, marking her first appearance on the show.

Olbermann has anchored away from MSNBC headquarters for such events as debates and more recently, the inauguration of Barack Obama. During the week of 26 January 2009, he took his show on the road to Tampa, in preparation for that week's Super Bowl, which he was covering for NBC.

In late August 2006, Olbermann started delivering occasional "Special Comments" in which he has expressed sharp criticisms of members of the Bush administration, including then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush. As of November 10, 2008, Olbermann has delivered forty of these commentaries, as well as a series of about ten "Campaign Comments" during the final weeks of the 2008 presidential election. While the majority of these comments have been directed at members of the Republican Party, Olbermann also directed two Special Comments in the first half of 2008 at Senator Hillary Clinton, criticizing aspects of her campaign for the Democratic nomination. One of Olbermann's Special Comments also spoke out against the passage of Proposition 8 in California on November 4, 2008.

Beginning with the Michael Jackson trial, Countdown presented comedic puppet "reenactments" of news which, due to court protocol or for other reasons, could not be captured on film titled Michael Jackson Puppet Theatre. Simplistic puppets created from printed photographs glued to popsicle sticks were manipulated in front of a bluescreen while Olbermann performed voice overs.

Other puppet theatre skits followed, including those involving Karl Rove and ethics within the White House; Anna Nicole Smith and the U.S. Supreme Court; Burt Reynolds; the election of Pope Benedict XVI by the College of Cardinals; the nomination of the Chief Justice of SCOTUS; Mel Gibson; Paris Hilton; Bill O'Reilly on the 2008 New Hampshire Primary trail trying to get an interview with Barack Obama, only to be held back by a member of Obama's staff, dubbed as "Bill O'Reilly Attacks Someone Taller Than Him"; the alleged ménage à trois of former New Jersey Govenror James McGreevey, his ex-wife Dina and a limo driver; and Bill and Chelsea Clinton campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton merged with the post-Easter holiday called Dyngus Day in South Bend, Indiana.

Done in the middle of the show, Oddball (a play on Hardball, the show that airs before Countdown) is a segment devoted to offbeat news items and "goofball video." The 'laugh' that comes between the intro graphics and the first item is Hardball's host Chris Matthews' laugh. Olbermann traditionally begins the segment with some interesting historical fact about that date. At the end of the month, Olbermann features "Oddball Plays of the Month", a compilation of some of the Oddball segments from that month. At the end of the year, a special show (sometimes two shows) covering the "Oddball Plays of the Year" is shown during Christmas week. It is generally a compilation of all the Plays of the Month.

The "Worst Person" segment is a nightly feature in which Olbermann recounts a recent news story involving people saying or doing something that Olbermann finds objectionable. In response to some critics, Olbermann has stated that the title of "Worst Person" is satirical and not meant to be a literal description. "Nominees" for Worst Person in the World are ranked at the bronze medal level ("Worse"), silver ("Worser") and gold ("Worst"). While many of his targets are not political, the overwhelming majority are conservatives or members of the Bush administration themselves. The segment is usually done with an organ playing Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" in the background.

Olbermann usually ends the segment by saying ", today's worst person in the world", in which the words "worst person in the world" are, for the most part, stretched and intoned in a humorously frightening and devilish manner. However, on occasions he has strayed from this approach and uttered the line in a much more somber or angry tone to signify that the Worst recipient had done something that deeply offended him.

Based on this segment of the show, a book titled The Worst Person in the World was published in September 2006. It included transcripts of segments that aired from this feature's inception on July 1, 2005 through May 31, 2006, as well as some original material.

During 2007, Football Night in America, Olbermann also spun off this segment into an NFL-themed "Worst Person in the NFL" segment during halftime of the weekly NBC Sunday Night Football telecast.

The most frequent recipient of the honor is Bill O'Reilly. Olbermann has repeatedly named O'Reilly his “Worst Person in the World", naming him the winner (gold medalist) at least, in Olbermann's words, "about once a week" including a clean sweep of all three positions ("worse", "worser" and "worst") twice: the first on November 30, 2005 and the second coming November 10, 2008. Only one other person, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, has received all three spots in the World's Worst countdown at the same time; this occurred on November 2, 2007.

Other frequent honorees include various right wing media personalities, members of the Bush administration, and members of Congress. Barack Obama was listed as "worse" for forgetting the date of his anniversary with his wife Michelle. Olbermann occasionally awards the bronze spot to himself, as a way of apologizing for a bad joke or of correcting a factual error in a previous show. Moreover, he also occassionally awards some of these spots to colleagues working for any of the NBC Universal networks such as when he pronounced Rick Santelli of CNBC on 20 February 2009 as "Worse" for an incident at the Chicago Board of Trade a day earlier.

During the 2008 U.S. Presidential Primary season, Olbermann began using the term "Keith number" in reference to the sum of a pre-election opinion poll's margin of error and the percentage of respondents who are undecided. Olbermann believes this value tends to be predictive of the extent to which a poll may vary from actual election results, and also of the volatility of the electorate's leanings.

Olbermann's "Keith number" is unrelated (mathematically or otherwise) to the more traditional use of the term.

Interviews with comedians are featured regularly during the final segment of the show; notable appearances have included George Carlin, Lewis Black, Richard Lewis, Mo Rocca, and John Cleese.

Olbermann's show on MSNBC occupies the same time slot as Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel. In addition to often naming O'Reilly "Worst Person in the World", Olbermann frequently lampoons him in other ways, including referring to him by several nicknames, e.g. "The Big Giant Head", "Bill-O" or "Bill-O the Clown", "Bill O'Rally", "Bill O RLY", "The Frank Burns of journalism", or–sarcastically–"America's Conscience". He also frequently refers to him as "Ted Baxter" or "Ted Baxter's Evil Twin" and, when quoting O'Reilly's words, will do so by impersonating Ted Knight's Ted Baxter voice.

For a time Countdown presented a segment titled "Factor Fiction", where O'Reilly's opinions were "fact-checked", introduced by animated character Stewie Griffin of Family Guy.

Olbermann responded to those criticisms by saying that Fox News had had less than cordial relations with CNN, referring to Fox having set up a billboard across the street from CNN Center in Atlanta, taunting them about their lower TV ratings; to when Fox News, through an unsigned statement, compared CNN to the Titanic; to when Fox News, through a press release, had claimed CNN founder Ted Turner had "lost his mind" after he criticized Fox News; and finally to when Fox News executives had made disparaging references to CNN host Paula Zahn's abilities after she had left Fox News.

The O'Reilly Factor continued to beat Countdown in the ratings, with Countdown only scoring occasional victories in what O'Reilly refers to as the "key demographic" of 25-54 year olds until mid 2008. That June Countdown won the demo for the entire week for the first time, although O'Reilly only worked three days that week. In October the ratings competition began to heat up more, with both sides trading victories and O'Reilly claiming foul play and calling for a federal investigation into the matter.

On February 22, 2006, O'Reilly initiated an online petition, that did not mention Olbermann by name, to have MSNBC remove Olbermann from the 8pm EST timeslot, purportedly to have former slot host Phil Donahue's show reinstated. The petition was in the form of a letter addressed to Wright saying: "We, the undersigned, are becoming increasingly concerned about the well-being of MSNBC and, in particular, note the continuing ratings failure of the program currently airing weeknights on that network at 8:00 p.m. EST". Olbermann responded two days later on Countdown by playing a selection of disparaging television clips featuring O'Reilly and mocked the whole affair by joining several MSNBC staffers, including Tucker Carlson and Dan Abrams, in signing the petition to have himself fired.

While Westwood One broadcasts O'Reilly's radio show, the program does originate from Fox News Channel's New York City studios. Olbermann noted that it would be unlawful for O'Reilly to send anyone to a listener's home for purposes of intimidation.

The Media Research Center (MRC), a conservative media content analysis organization, has been very critical of Keith Olbermann since he became the Countdown host. The organization has asserted that he has a liberal bias in the form of criticizing President George W. Bush, attacking FOX and O'Reilly, starting off his newscast with what it claims to be unimportant stories with a left wing motive, and avoiding the Bush administration's side of the story. MRC has also accused Olbermann of allegedly supporting President Bush's impeachment, among other practices. Bloggers from, a conservative blogsite, have also asserted that Olbermann exclusively chooses guests who reinforce his point of view. MRC issued a press release describing Olbermann's November 1, 2006 Special Comment as "preaching hate speech", and describing Olbermann as "a brown-shirted left-winger spew hate from an NBC-owned podium." ("Brown-shirt" is a term that was used to describe the Sturmabteilung paramilitary organization of the German Nazi party).

In response, Olbermann has on a number of occasions named MRC founder Brent Bozell, whom he has described variously as "Redbeard the pirate", and "humorist", the "worst person in the world" for various comments he has made about Countdown and other topics, such as Bozell's criticism of the New York Times for sponsoring the 2006 Gay Games. The anchor has also said that the MRC desires "an institutionalized, pro-Republican slant" in the media.

To support its assertions of bias, the MRC researched Countdown's Worst Person in the World segment and claimed to find that of the approximately 600 nominees between June 30, 2005 and June 23, 2006, 174 had conservative political views and 23 had liberal political views, with the remaining 403 having no apparent political affiliation. Olbermann interpreted the results differently by pointing out that 71% were not conservative.

Olbermann has addressed the assertions of liberal bias by stating that he would be equally critical of a Democratic president who had invited criticism by his actions: "I mean, no one in 1998, no one accused me of being a liberal in 1998 because I was covering the Lewinsky scandal. And whatever I had to do about it, I tried to be fair and honest and as accurate and as informed as possible, and allow my viewer to be the same way. And nowadays it's the same thing. And now all of a sudden I’m a screaming liberal." However, Howard Kurtz has written that Olbermann departed MSNBC the first time as a result of the relentless Clinton-Lewinsky coverage which personally sickened him. The MRC responded by noting that they criticized him in 1998 for comparing Ken Starr to Heinrich Himmler.

On November 25, 2006, Fox News Watch's panelist Cal Thomas named Olbermann as his choice for 2006's "Media Turkey Award" for what Thomas alleged were Olbermann's "innaccuracies" and "hot air". Olbermann in turn gave the show the Bronze for "Worst Person in the World", not for naming him "Turkey of the Year", but for spelling his name "Olberman" on the onscreen graphic.

Countdown is one of the MSNBC and NBC News programming shown on the 24 hour news network Orbit News in Europe and the Middle East. In addition, the show can be seen in its entirety on and downloaded as a podcast on iTunes.

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MSNBC's former World HQ in NJ (now Home of MLB Network)

MSNBC is a 24-hour cable news channel based in the United States and available in both the US and Canada. Its name is a combination of "MSN" and "NBC".

A separate company,, is the news website for the NBC News family, featuring original stories and video as well as content from NBC News and partners such as The New York Times, Newsweek and The Washington Post.

Two partnerships with the name MSNBC were founded in 1996 by Microsoft and General Electric's NBC unit, which is now NBC Universal. Although Microsoft and NBC shared operations of MSNBC cable at its founding, it was announced on December 23, 2005, that NBC Universal would purchase a majority stake in the television network, which left Microsoft with 18%. The two companies remain 50-50 partners in MSNBC, like sister channel CNBC, shares the NBC logo of a rainbow peacock.

Some critics and observers of the network say that MSNBC has become increasingly politically liberal compared to other networks, particularly in its prime-time lineup.

Microsoft invested $220 million for a 50% share of the cable network, while MSNBC and Microsoft would share the cost of a $200 million newsroom in Redmond, Washington for NBC supplied the space with an 18 month old America's Talking network.

MSNBC was launched on July 15, 1996. The first show, which was anchored by Jodi Applegate, broadcast a lineup of news, interviews, and opinions. During the day, rolling news coverage continued with The Contributors, a show that featured Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham, as well as interactive programming coordinated by Applegate, John Gibson, and John Seigenthaler Stories were generally longer and more detailed than the stories running on CNN at the time.

MSNBC originally demonstrated the interactive value of the Internet. The network's first slogan was It's Time to Get Connected, and e-mail addresses and phone numbers were displayed regularly.

Primetime featured an hour-long interview program called Internight (which showcased the stars of NBC News), followed by the network's flagship newscast, The News with Brian Williams, and The Site, a show about the Internet and computers co-hosted by Soledad O'Brien and a computer-generated character played by Leo Laporte. The first Internight included an interview with President Bill Clinton, who took questions from callers and e-mailers. Other shows that made use of the Internet included News Chat featuring Mary Kathleen Flynn, and a look into the past with Time & Again, anchored by Jane Pauley. Black Entertainment Television host Ed Gordon also contributed to the new network by hosting the Saturday version of Internight.

The start was a bit bumpy due to a series of changes in management and continuing internal squabbles over the direction of the network. Some NBC affiliates were concerned that cross-promotion would divert viewers from their own programs, although that fear abated. However, MSNBC was often first to break news. It broke the story of the crash of TWA Flight 800 eight minutes before CNN, ushering in an era of hypercompetitiveness between the news channels that continues today.

MSNBC signed a simulcast agreement with Infinity Broadcasting station WFAN to carry the Imus in the Morning radio show, which began on September 2, 1996. In November 1996, the network moved to new studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. In 2007 studios were relocated to NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan.

The web site, a separate company, remained relatively successful, becoming the most-used online news site in 1997, 1998, and 1999. MSNBC significantly increased during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, following a new "covering the Big Story" format that provided saturation coverage for the top stories. Keith Olbermann left over MSNBC's continuing focus on the impeachment. He returned in 2003 as host of Countdown, currently the network's most popular show. When Olbermann left "The Big Show" he was replaced by John Hockenberry, who achieved some success. Hockenberry's Edgewise program focused on newsmakers and showed off Hockenberry's documentary skills. Ratings began to drop, however, after the impeachment trial was completed. Fox beat MSNBC in numbers of viewers per 24 hours, particularly impressive considering MSNBC's distribution advantage. NBC News stars began shunning the network. Low-rated chat shows such as Watch It, and Equal Time, a Crossfire knockoff, filled out the schedule. Hockenberry was replaced after six months by a rebroadcast of Hardball from CNBC.

That show was replaced by Headliners and Legends, a biography program that has been a weekend staple on the network ever since. Also in 1999, the management of MSNBC replaced midday news coverage with a delayed broadcast of NBC News Today called Today on MSNBC and repackaged Dateline NBC stories into MSNBC Investigates, a decision that angered NBC affiliates. On the other hand, 1999 saw a partnership with the Washington Post that permitted more integrated coverage on the web site.

On April 3, 2000, a show named Home Page hosted by three women—Ashleigh Banfield, Gina Gaston, and Mika Brzezinski—began. Along with Home Page, MSNBC tried to attract female viewers by signing a deal in February 2001 with Detroit radio station WJR to simulcast the first two hours of The Mitch Albom Show. While the pairing was a ratings winner, both shows would eventually be canceled: Home Page due to sinking ratings; and The Mitch Albom Show due to its frequent preemptions and some disagreements with the MSNBC management.

In 2000, John Gibson, one of the original MSNBC hosts, left the network. His confrontational tenure as the host of the Feedback primetime program foreshadowed his opinion program on the Fox News Channel. MSNBC continued to repackage NBC News programs (Special Edition and Crime Files), and during the 2000 presidential election cycle, reporters and interviews were cycled constantly between broadcast NBC and the cable news channel. MSNBC also commissioned original documentaries similar to The Discovery Channel for use as filler on weekends. Later in the year, Lester Holt received kudos for his daily coverage of the Florida election controversy, allowing MSNBC to beat Fox News during November 2000.

On December 23, 2005, it was announced that NBC Universal would acquire an additional 32% share of the television network from Microsoft, solidifying its control over television operations and allowing NBC to further consolidate MSNBC's backroom operations with NBC News and its other cable properties. would continue to be 50% owned by both NBC and Microsoft, and its operations would be largely unaffected. NBC would have the option to buy the remaining 18% share from Microsoft after two years. Rumors circulated that the cable network would eventually be rebranded as NBC News Channel, a name currently used for the network's news service to NBC affiliates.

On October 22, 2007, MSNBC and NBC News launched broadcasts from new studios at NBC's "30 Rock" complex in New York City. After extensive renovations of the associated studios, NBC essentially merged its entire news operation into one building, and all MSNBC broadcasts, as well as the NBC Nightly News program, originate in the new studios. MSNBC is also expected to expand West Coast operations, as the network recently announced new studios near the Universal Studios lot, which will assemble all NBC West Coast news operations in one building. MSNBC's Master Control did not make the move to 30 Rock. It remained in the old Secaucus headquarters until it completed its move to the NBC Universal Network Origination Center located inside the CNBC Global Headquarters building in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, on December 21, 2007.

By the start of 2001, MSNBC continued to trail both Fox News and CNN. With the success of Fox News Channel, MSNBC tried to emulate the Fox News Channel's emphasis on opinion hosts. The Project for Excellence in Journalism found in 2007 after a seven year survey of cable networks that "MSNBC is moving to make politics a brand, with a large dose of opinion and personality." In January 2001, Mike Barnicle got a show on MSNBC, but it was canceled in June 2001 due to high production costs. In June, in a sign of continuing trouble of MSNBC, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that he would not have started MSNBC if he knew then what he knows now. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, MSNBC served as an outlet for NBC News to provide up-to-the-minute coverage, in contrast to broadcast NBC's longer stories. CNBC and CNBC Europe, with little financial news to report, ran MSNBC for many hours of the day following the attacks. The year also boosted the profile of Ashleigh Banfield, who had escaped injury while covering the World Trade Center on September 11. Her Region In Conflict program capitalized on her newfound celebrity and showcased exclusive interviews from Afghanistan.

In 2002, MSNBC's focus continued on opinion journalism and low ratings. MSNBC scored up to triple the usual ratings during the 2002 Winter Olympics, airing several events, but this success was not due to news programming. Alan Keyes is Making Sense debuted in January, featuring the conservative one-time candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination. MSNBC rebranded itself as America's NewsChannel, with a patriotic theme proclaiming MSNBC to be fiercely independent. Jerry Nachman joined MSNBC as its editor-in-chief and host of a news analysis program in May, and liberal talk-show pioneer Phil Donahue began hosting an evening talk show in July. The News with Brian Williams was moved to CNBC, leaving MSNBC with primarily opinion shows in the evening. In the afternoon, the cable network replaced rolling news coverage with talk shows featuring Curtis Sliwa, Ron Kuby, Bill Press, and Pat Buchanan.

The experiment did not last long. Keyes was gone by July. Sliwa and Kuby were removed in October, and Nachman's show was moved in October. Donahue's ratings plummeted, from 660,000 households in his first week to just 136,000 households in his sixth week, a drop of 80%. The network was regularly beaten in the ratings by CNN Headline News. Overall, ratings dropped 36% from the previous year. MSNBC publicly proclaimed support for Donahue and moved some shows to try to stabilize his ratings, helping to increase his viewership to 446,000 households. Donahue himself claimed that MSNBC was trying to "out-fox" Fox by removing him and adding Joe Scarborough to the lineup. Donahue's time slot was replaced by Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

In June 2006, Don Kaplan of the New York Post (owned by News Corporation, which also owns Fox News Channel) wrote a column titled "Do We Need MSNBC?" Addressing MSNBC'S low ratings, Kaplan quoted CNN co-founder Reese Schoenfeld, who said that "verybody compares MSNBC to Fox and CNN — when its real competition is Headline News". Schoenfeld pointed out that the ratings for MSNBC and Headline News are roughly the same, about 300,000 viewers on average and that "by comparison, Fox and CNN regularly average three or four times as many viewers." In the column Kaplan remarked that "the running joke in TV news is Fox and CNN are news channels with websites, but MSNBC is a website with a cable channel"..

On June 7, 2006, Rick Kaplan resigned as president of MSNBC, after holding the post for two years. Following the announcement, it was announced on June 12, 2006, that Dan Abrams, a nine-year veteran of MSNBC and NBC News, had been named General Manager of the NBC News 24-hour cable news channel, effective immediately. NBC News Senior Vice President Phil Griffin would oversee MSNBC. Griffin would also continue to oversee NBC News’ Today, and Abrams would report to Griffin.

On June 29, 2006, Abrams announced a revamp to MSNBC's early-primetime and primetime schedule. On July 10, Tucker (formerly The Situation with Tucker Carlson) started airing at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET (taking over Abrams' old timeslot), while Rita Cosby's Live & Direct was taken off the schedule. Cosby was instead given the role of primary anchor for MSNBC Investigates at 10 and 11 p.m. ET, a new program that took over Cosby and Carlson's timeslots. According to the press release, MSNBC Investigates promised to "...complement MSNBC's existing programming by building on library of award winning documentaries." The move to taped programming during 10 and 11 p.m. was likely a result of the success that the network saw with their Friday "experiment" of replacing all primetime programming with taped specials.

On October 22, 2007 MSNBC moved to its new headquarters in New York at the newly renovated 3rd and 4th floors of 30 Rock. Studio 3A debuted that morning when MSNBC's Morning Joe opened its broadcast from the studio at 6 a.m. ET. MSNBC continued to broadcast from Studio 3A throughout the day, including Live with Dan Abrams in primetime. Countdown with Keith Olbermann broadcast live at 8 p.m. from the 2nd floor of studio 1A. At 6:30 p.m. ET, Brian Williams unveiled the renovated Studio 3C on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. More than 12.5 hours of live television across NBC News and MSNBC originate from the two studios daily. On September 24, 2007, Abrams announced that he would leave the position of General Manager to focus on his 9:00 p.m. ET talk show, "Live With Dan Abrams". Oversight of MSNBC is now provided by Phil Griffin, a senior vice president at NBC.

From mid-2007 to mid-2008, the network received a large increase in its ratings. Primetime viewings increased by 61% over that time. In May 2008, NBC News President Steve Capus said that "It used to be people didn't have to worry about MSNBC because it was an also-ran cable channel... That's not the case anymore." Tim Russert's sudden death removed what The Wall Street Journal called the "rudder for the network" and has currently led to a period of transition.

During the 2008 Democratic National Convention, changes by the network led to public tensions between network star Keith Olbermann and Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, and Dan Abrams.

As a result of a carriage agreement, MSNBC is currently not available to Verizon Fios TV subscribers in Verizon's Long Island & Northern New Jersey grouping as well as areas in New York City, Westchester County, and Orange County (FIOS does carry MSNBC on channel 103 in Secaucus, 103 & 603 on Long Island, NJ and in certain areas in Manhattan on channels 103 and 1545). The reason for the lack of availability is, in part, due to an exclusive carriage agreement that MSNBC entered into with Cablevision, which services the areas in question. The terms of the agreement (i.e. when the exclusive agreement expires in 2011) are unknown. Although areas in Verizon's Northern New Jersey area are serviced by another cable provider (Comcast), Verizon imposes the unavailability of MSNBC to all customers residing in their Northern NJ channel map. Customers who reside in the New York City area and do not live in Cablevision areas are affected, although MSNBC is available on FiOS in Staten Island, on channel 103.

MSNBC is shown only in the United States, Canada, parts of Latin America & Africa (see below). In 2001, a Canadian version—MSNBC Canada—was developed; however, it was soon discontinued in 2004, and the American version began airing in Canada.

In Southern Africa, MSNBC is distributed free-to-air on satellite on Free2View TV as MSNBC Africa, a joint venture between Great Media Limited and MSNBC. Free2View airs MSNBC's programming from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET in a block that repeats twice (live for the first airing), with local Weather Channel forecasts. Botswana's national television broadcaster, BTV, also provides an un-edited broadcast of MSNBC (including advertisements) after their scheduled programming each evening. BTV is available within Botswana, as well as to Southern Africa viewers on DStv.

In Asia and Europe, MSNBC is not shown on a channel of its own. When the network started in 1996 they announced plans to start broadcasting in Europe during 1997. This never happened. However, MSNBC is shown for a few hours a day on the 24 hour news network Orbit News in Europe and the Middle East. During breaking news MSNBC is also shown occasionally on affiliate network CNBC Europe. In the UK, during major US breaking news, the now-closed ITV News Channel (ITN) occasionally showed MSNBC; some of MSNBC's reports appeared in ITV News bulletins.

In Turkey, NTV-MSNBC is the news network of the Turkish broadcaster NTV Turkey. The network is a joint partnership between the two, although very little Turkish content makes its way onto English MSNBC. English content on MSNBC is translated to Turkish.

Although HD versions of other channels that NBC Universal owns are in 1080i, the resolution that MSNBC HD will be in has not been confirmed. Further information regarding specific launch dates and which television providers will carry it are not available at this time., a separate company from MSNBC cable, is the online news outlet for the NBC News family, including network shows such as Today, NBC Nightly News, and Dateline NBC, as well as MSNBC TV. In addition to NBC News content and material produced by the site's own staff, also hosts articles and features from several partners, including The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine.

The web site is developed in Redmond, Washington, on the Microsoft campus and news content is produced out of newsrooms in Redmond, New York, and London. It is the news provider for MSN, the portal site and online service operated by Microsoft, but it is editorially and financially separate.

According to Nielsen Online, has risen above Yahoo! News and CNN for the position of top U.S. news site from June 2008 through January 2009.

In the February 2008 issue of Men's Journal magazine, a MSNBC interviewee quoted a senior executive who said that commentator Keith Olbermann "runs MSNBC" and that "because of his success, he's in charge" of the network. The New York Times has called Olbermann the network's "most recognizable face". In September 2008, MSNBC stated that they were removing both Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as live political event anchors, and replacing them with David Gregory, due to growing criticism that they were "too opinionated to be seen as neutral in the heat of the presidential campaign." However, Olbermann continued to broadcast Countdown both before and after the presidential and vice-presidential debates, and both Matthews and Olbermann joined Gregory on the network's election night coverage.

Leaders of John McCain's campaign have publicly criticized MSNBC and its parent network at least twice during the 2008 presidential campaign. Senior McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt called it an organ of the Democratic National Committee in May 2008.

Some supporters of the Democratic Party have criticized MSNBC during and after the 2008 Democratic Primaries, accusing it of covering Barack Obama much more favorably than Hillary Clinton. Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries and currently supports Barack Obama, called MSNBC's coverage "absolutely embarrassing." He also stated that “MSNBC was the official network of the Obama campaign". Writer Isaac Chotiner wrote in The New Republic that "MSNBC's coverage can lead to a perverse sort of cognitive dissonance in viewers like, well, me." He speculated that "it was the Obama cheerleading from MSNBC (among others) that helped lead to Clinton's New Hampshire comeback." A study done by the Project for Excellence in Journalism showed that MSNBC had less negative coverage of Obama (14% of stories vs. 29% in the press overall) and more negative stories about Republican presidential candidate John McCain (73% of its coverage vs. 57% in the press overall). This can be compared to Fox News in the same report, which showed their stories were 40% negative for both candidates which was more than the norm for Obama (29% average) and less than the norm for McCain (57% average).

A spokesperson for Obama's campaign has stated that "When the cable news channels had wall-to-wall negative coverage about our campaign for weeks on end, we didn't think it was particularly fair, but we also didn't whine about it all the time." He also said about the network that "Has it been too pro-Obama? Absolutely not". MSNBC head Phil Griffin called the network's coverage of Clinton "very fair".

During the week of the 2008 presidential election, MSNBC changed its on-air slogan to "The Power of Change" which was similar to the Obama campaign's message during the election. This fueled further allegations of bias from critics of the news organization.

In early April 2007, shock jock Don Imus, whose radio show Imus in the Morning was simulcast on MSNBC, made comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. The comments sparked outrage, as many individuals considered the comments to be both racist and sexist. After an initial two-week suspension of Imus' program, MSNBC canceled the simulcast as sponsors started withdrawing their advertisements from the show. Imus, as well as NBC News, apologized to the Rutgers Basketball team for the remarks.

In March 2003, MSNBC featured a weekend show hosted by conservative radio host Michael Savage. Savage snapped at a prank caller on his show, calling him a "pig" and a "sodomite," telling him that he "should get AIDS and die," and to "go eat a sausage and choke on it." Savage was immediately fired.

MSNBC has used five logos to date since 1996, and they are shown below.

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Howard Fineman

Howard Fineman

Howard Fineman is Newsweek’s Chief Political Correspondent, Senior Editor and Deputy Washington Bureau Chief. An award-winning writer, Fineman also is an NBC News Analyst, contributing reports to the network and its cable affiliates. He was a regular guest on the “Imus in the Morning” radio show, and appears frequently on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Countdown with Keith Olbermann as well as The Rachel Maddow Show. The author of scores of Newsweek cover stories, Fineman’s work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Republic. His “Living Politics” column is posted weekly on

Fineman authored his first book in 2008, The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country.

Fineman holds an A.B., Phi Beta Kappa, from Colgate (where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi), an M.S. in journalism from Columbia, and a J.D. from the University of Louisville. His legal education included a year at the Georgetown University Law Center. He received Watson and Pulitzer Traveling Fellowships for study in Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

A native of Pittsburgh, Fineman began his journalism career at The Louisville Courier-Journal, covering the environment, the coal industry and state politics before joining the newspaper’s Washington bureau in 1978. He moved to Newsweek in 1980, was named chief political correspondent in 1984, deputy Washington bureau chief in 1993 and senior editor in 1995.

Fineman has interviewed every major presidential candidate since 1984, focusing in recent years on the rise and times of George W. Bush. A cover story in November 2001 featured the president’s first extensive post-9/11 interview. Another, “Bush and God,” was the top-selling issue of 2003 and was part of a series of Newsweek articles that won the magazine a National Magazine Award for General Excellence that year. His reporting has helped Newsweek win numerous other honors from the Magazine Publishers Association and the American Journalism Review. Fineman’s other awards include a “Page One” from the Headliners Club of New York, a “Silver Gavel” from ABA and a “Deadline Club” from the Society of Professional Journalists.

As a reporter and writer, Fineman ranges widely. Besides campaign-year cover stories, other projects have included: the rise of the religious right, the power of talk radio, race and politics, the Pledge of Allegiance controversy, the impact of digital technology on society and the influence of Hollywood on politics. He has interviewed business leaders such as Bill Gates, Steve Case, Steve Ballmer, Robert Rubin, Ted Turner and entertainment personalities such as Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, Aaron Sorkin, and Jay Leno.

Although Fineman now reports on TV exclusively for NBC, he has appeared on most major public affairs shows, including: Nightline, Face the Nation, Larry King Live, Fox News Sunday, Charlie Rose, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He was a regular panelist on PBS’s Washington Week in Review, 1983-1995, and on CNN’s Capital Gang Sunday, 1995-1998. He worked with Ted Koppel to produce Nightline special reports on Ross Perot and Pat Robertson. He appears in the award-winning documentary Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story.

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The Rachel Maddow Show (TV series)

The Rachel Maddow Show is a news and opinion television program that airs weeknights on MSNBC at 9:00 p.m. ET. It is hosted by Rachel Maddow, who gained popularity with her frequent appearances as a liberal pundit on various MSNBC programs. She also hosts a radio show of the same name. The show debuted on September 8, 2008.

Keith Olbermann, the host of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann and Maddow's first guest on her first show, has taken credit for pushing for Maddow to get her own show. He first announced the news of Maddow getting her own show in a blog entry on Daily Kos. Prior to getting her own show, Maddow had served as regular guest host for Countdown when Olbermann was absent. The Rachel Maddow Show replaced Verdict with Dan Abrams.

The Rachel Maddow Show debuted on September 8, 2008, with 1,543,000 viewers (483,000 of whom were in the 25-54 demographic).

On September 16, 2008, the show drew 1,801,000 viewers (with 534,000 in the 25-54 demographic), beating Larry King Live and becoming the highest-rated MSNBC show of the night. Maddow's ratings success on September 16, 2008 prompted many of her MSNBC colleagues on Morning Joe to congratulate her on the air, including Joe Scarborough, who said it was "just one of those times where good people do well." As of December 28, 2008, The Rachel Maddow Show continues to dominate over Larry King Live in the all important A25-54 demographic.

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Source : Wikipedia