Today, MSNBC spent a good portion of the day reporting on the aftermath of an attempted Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, but when the incident was actually happening, NBC execs didn’t want to spend much time on it all. In contrast, CNN and Fox News Channel gave most of their attention to the story on Christmas night while MSNBC stuck with pretaped programing about a murder mystery and environmental issues, along with an “undercover” report on the teenage sex trade.
MSNBC has often been criticized in the past for failing to respond in a timely manner to breaking news that happens off-hours, a choice that puts a wrench in the network’s efforts to be seen as a go-to news source. The network is revamping its daytime schedule to be more news-oriented than personality-driven, since the latter approach has not proven to get ratings.
They did touch on attempted terrorist attack Friday, as an anchor did live cut-ins every hour to pass on news and updates.
Fox spent equal time on live coverage and a taped year-end retrospective show with Bill O’Reilly Friday night. CNN devoted virtually all of its prime-time hours to the incident which was anchored by Ali Velshi.
Rachel Sklar, a blogger for the Mediaite Website noted, “If you’re going to call yourself a news network, then cover the news,” she wrote.
MSNBC faced similar criticism earlier this year when it stuck with taped programming during a weekend that other networks were covering protests over the election in Iran. At that time, the Daily Kos Web site wrote: “What are they, a high school radio station left on autopilot from Friday night to Monday morning? … If MSNBC wants to be a force, when will they wake up?”
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