Back to the Drawing Board, Again

Wile E. Coyote's got nothing on last-place cable news network
MSNBC, which for years has been scrambling (to no avail) to catch
up with CNN and Fox News Channel, considered the go-to cable
channels for communications execs looking for decent returns. Now,
MSNBC is bringing in heavy hitter Rick Kaplan (ex-CNN, ABC News) to
run the operation, replacing Erik Sorenson, who will work on
special projects at NBC News. MSNBC has desperately been seeking an
identity following a series of missteps in the last year or so,
including the hiring (and subsequent) firing of both Phil Donahue
and Jesse Ventura as evening news anchors. MSNBC also took a
drubbing in the media after it hired conservative radio talk-show
host Michael Savage for a weekend talk show last year only to fire
him for anti-gay comments barely four months into the job. Sure,
the cable outlet needs a new direction editorially but how about a
PR plan that will put some fannies in the seats? MSNBC has averaged
373,000 viewers in prime time this season, compared with CNN's
927,000 and Fox's 1.62 million, according to Nielsen Media
Research. Kaplan, who headed CNN's domestic operations from 1997 to
2000, has been a senior executive at ABC News for the past year.