Opinion | Anchor Away: The Disappearing of Brian Williams

However the press obsession over the departure of a information anchor at this level in TV historical past signifies that we have now have but to determine how replaceable these women and men are. For instance, when Invoice O’Reilly, one of the largest performers ever to glow on cable TV, was pushed out at Fox Information Channel, everyone thought the community had suffered a grievous wound. However inside months, Tucker Carlson, a cable character who had beforehand didn’t catch on, restored the misplaced O’Reilly rankings by stealing his outrage and bombast act.

How replaceable are anchors? Ask CBS Information, which has put in 5 totally different newsreaders within the chair for its CBS Night Information since canning Dan Rather in 2005. First got here Bob Schieffer (2005–2006), then Katie Couric (2006–2011), then Scott Pelley (2011–2017) after which Jeff Glor (2017–2019). Norah O’Donnell now occupies the spot. Pop stars last more on the high lately than do CBS Night Information anchors.

But when anchors are replaceable, you ask, why did MSNBC simply give Rachel Maddow a $30 million-a-year contract to remain? Sure, Maddow appears worthy. She attracts a bigger viewers than anyone else on MSNBC and beats ratings giant Fox continuously. However her large payout was additionally knowledgeable by the truth that different networks had been looking for her. In line with Puck News, CNN’s Jeff Zucker provided Maddow $20 million to defect. Axios reported that Disney (ABC and ESPN), Netflix and Spotify courted her, too. However how a lot did any of these organizations really need her? Traditionally, at any time when a community poaches a competing community’s stars — ABC stealing Barbara Walters from NBC, NBC taking Megyn Kelly from Fox, CBS swiping Katie Couric from NBC — its major mission is principally to sabotage the competitor’s profitable line-up, not bolster its personal. Most of the acts of poaching succeeded as acts of sabotage. Solely Walters thrived at her new dwelling. Maddow is aware of all about this model of sabotage. In 2017, she told Howard Stern that Fox auteur Roger Ailes provided her a contract within the mid-2010s. He didn’t need to put her on air, she mentioned, he simply wished to kill her MSNBC present.

What ought to MSNBC have carried out? Clearly, it ought to have let Maddow go, discovered one other crusading liberal to succeed her and pocketed the surplus hundreds of thousands. As a substitute, the community overpaid her. It did so as a result of it might — the community is swimming in a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} of subscriber cash. Another excuse it held on to Maddow, maybe, is as a result of its new president didn’t need to take the general public warmth for letting a “star” go. It’s noteworthy that despite the fact that Williams has his followers, MSNBC administration allowed Williams’ exit. Was it as a result of there was no larger idiot at one other community keen to extend Williams’ worth with contemporary presents? Don’t low cost that. Additionally, Williams continues to be thought of broken items in some corners for his fabulisms. MSNBC knew that when it didn’t rehire him, no person was going to shriek, “You let Brian Williams slip away? What had been you considering?!”

The Maddow deal appears all of the extra bizarre given reports that it’d end in her nightly present ending as early as spring 2022 and being changed by a weekly present (and different productions beneath her imprimatur). From this angle, it’s beginning to look extra like MSNBC reversed the usual equation by working more durable to maintain her away from different networks than to maintain her busy at its personal. Wouldn’t or not it’s savory if one of Maddow’s new productions ended up being anchored by Williams?


The solely anchor I dig is Anchor Steam. Ship beer selections to [email protected]. My favourite anchor of all time is Arnold Zenker, who was as meek in entrance of the digital camera as my email alerts are to its subscribers. My Twitter feed thinks it’s an anchor. My RSS feed killed its TV.

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