MSNBC, where entertainment goes to die.

MSNBC, where entertainment goes to die.
Screen capture from YouTube

The low turnout wasn’t a fluke: Year-to-date, MSNBC’s daytime viewership is down 21 percent overall and 41 percent in the coveted 25-to-54 year-old demographic, putting it in fourth place behind Fox News, CNN and CNN’s sister network HLN. Its prime-time ratings are down 24 percent and 42 percent, respectively. In both daytime and prime time, MSNBC is bringing in its smallest share of the demo since 2005, the year before Keith Olbermann’s scorched-earth admonitions of the Bush administration ushered in the current era of Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton. – Dylan Byers [Politico]

MORE BAD news for MSNBC. Everyone has a theory, lamenting that unlike Fox News Channel, MSNBC’s tilt leftward is the problem. Tell that to Jon Stewart, an independent liberal who never struggles for viewers. Of course, there is only one Jon Stewart, and one John Oliver I would add, but these two men reveal the main issue with all of MSNBC programming.

MSNBC is where entertainment goes to die.

“MSNBC got boring,” one former NBCUniversal executive said. “You’ll hear a lot of people talking about it being too far left, too political — all that matters is that it’s entertaining.”

The exception is Rachel Maddow, who can be very entertaining when she eschews earnestness, which is the death knell of entertainment.

“Morning Joe” is safe, too, because of where it began, which started as something very special. It’s evolved into a messy morning train wreck today, which is why Mika Brzezinski is getting more air time. Regardless of her limited talent and ability to entertain, she comes from the serious world of reporting. Her comfortable demeanor on-air, even when she stumbles into abominable analysis, reveals a transparency on mainstream topics that also shows her ability to take criticism and transmit to her audience that she hears complaints and is willing to address them.

This shows a strength that Joe Scarborough simply doesn’t have. He’s also not nearly as likable as Brzezinski, and no one would ever confuse Scarborough with someone who relies on facts and doesn’t mind being challenged.

“Morning Joe” exhibits some of what has made Bill O’Reilly a cable juggernaut, except no one at the network has the broadcasting talent of FNC’s top bloviator. That O’Reilly came from “Inside Edition” is a hint of why he’s able to constantly attract viewers, even if it’s a much older demographic. O’Reilly is infuriating, an exaggerator, a fabricator and liar to many, but the man entertains his audience and you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. He jumps all over the map on subjects and isn’t afraid to make a fool of himself, either.

No one in the talking head circuit has figured out how to attract younger viewers who live off of their smartphones, grasp headlines of a story quickly, and move on to the next thing that catches their eye.

Well, no one except Jon Stewart. …with a side nod to John Oliver, the smartest man on premium cable.

It’s not that MSNBC needs comics.

Even CNN has figured out a way to change their flagging fortunes. They’re producing shows that go beyond partisan talking heads and politics that bore you to death.

It wouldn’t be a bad move at all for MSNBC to bring over some of their “Dateline” shows, using the Robert Durst case to launch a murder mystery series. They should launch it at 10 p.m., take Lawrence O’Donnell of the air in what can only be described as a mercy cancellation.

The extent of that change could be vast: In the months ahead, MSNBC is likely to shake up the bulk of its programming, moving some shows and canceling others, high-level sources at NBCUniversal told POLITICO. With few exceptions — notably “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “Morning Joe” — every program is at risk of being moved or cancelled, those sources said. “All In with Chris Hayes,” a ratings suck that currently occupies the 8 p.m. time slot, will almost certainly be replaced. Network execs are also considering moving some weekday shows, like “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton,” to weekends.

“The plan is to re-imagine what the channel is,” one high-level NBCUniversal insider with knowledge of the network’s plans said, “because the current lineup is a death wish.”