There’s going to be a lot of buzz about what today’s news means and what it doesn’t mean. Some will say, aha Abrams has been demoted…he couldn’t do the job…it’s a no confidence vote. I don’t see it that way. You could see that things were going to turn out this way just as a matter of circumstance. The signs were all there.
First of all, MSNBC doesn’t need a GM in 30 Rock. Note that new hire Shannon High-Bassalik’s title is not GM. It needed one in Secaucus because that was a different location. But with NBC News and MSNBC under one roof, a GM, while not quite to the level of gratuitous, certainly isn’t mandatory. Second, if you had noticed the media articles the past couple of months, particularly since Abrams started his nightly show, the number of quotes you read from Phil Griffin pertaining to MSNBC increased significantly (and noticeably). Third, Abrams can’t run MSNBC and have a show and still function effectively. Fourth, MSNBC needs a show to run at 9. Scarborough is committed to Morning Joe. Abrams already had a show running. To kill it at this point and start over with someone else is not productive.
While all this seems like a lot of news, on the face of it not much changes for MSNBC in the near term. The same vision and the same direction which existed during Abrams’ GM term and was reflected on what one would see when they tuned in to MSNBC will still exist when Griffin assumes a more hands on role.
The $64,000 question, and the one that is probably the most important but paridoxically the least thought about, is what does the hiring of Shannon High-Bassalik say about the longtime NBC News staffers who could have done the same job but were passed over for outsider High-Bassalik? This is the second time in a row now that NBC News has gone the unconventional route and not promoted from within its own staff ranks. The first time was going outside and bringing Abrams in as GM. Just how many people at NBC are reading today’s news and wondering if this was a no-confidence vote…? It seems like it to me.