Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
After the TCA session, I asked MSNBC president Phil Griffin to clarify the status of MSNBC pundit Pat Buchanan, who has been off the network since October 22nd while making the rounds promoting his controversial new book Suicide Of A Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? The book has been criticized by numerous groups including the Anti-Defamation League for its purportedly racist and anti-Semitic views. Griffin told me after the panel, “I don’t think the ideas that [Buchanan] put forth [in the book] are appropriate for the national dialogue, much less on MSNBC.” Will Buchanan be back at all on MSNBC? “I have not made my decision,” replied Griffin, who did say he will be tinkering with the network’s format as the year goes on. “Pat’s a good guy. He didn’t like [being removed from the air], but he understood.”
On the subject of MSNBC’s 2012 election coverage, Griffin noted after the session that he had expected Fox News’ victory the night of the Iowa Caucus to be far bigger than it was. “It’s just interesting,” he said. “Nobody blew it out. I think it speaks to the country’s reaction to politics today. Given that this was such as Republican event, I thought Fox would just dominate.” (Fox News drew 2.6 million viewers in primetime vs. 1.3 million for CNN and 1.2 million for MSNBC.)
The morning’s subject was MSNBC’s well-rated Morning Joe early AM show anchored by Scarborough and co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist. It was widely reported during the summer that CBS made a big play to get Scarborough and his team. After briefly joking “there’s no truth to it,” Scarborough confirmed that he “hears from all of the different networks that they want us to go work for them and do a show for them. … But we have an opportunity to talk to people that you just can’t on other networks.” He also said he’s proud to be associated with a show where “people know they can come on and not be browbeaten and humiliated. … Part of the problem with this presidential field is you have a lot of candidates who realize that the only way they can make a connection with voters is to go on cable shows and call their opponents socialists or fascists or marxists.” On that note, he added that he agrees with others who have called the current Republican presidential hopefuls the worst collection of GOP contenders in history.