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Happy 15th Birthday, MSNBC!

To celebrate, MSNBC President Phil Griffin did an interview with Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici; here are two of the main highlights:

If you were to boil down what you’ve learned in the course of making MSNBC into a success story into a business school case study, what would the lesson be?

Know your audience. Look, the world changed with the computer. All of a sudden there are thousands of information places where you can get very specific news, information, headlines. And because people can get news when they want it on the web, on smartphones, wherever, there wasn’t a need for a broad-based, general headline news service. So you have to have an audience. Ours we defined as people who are interested in politics, and in our prime time we pretty much go progressive politics.

Really, only in prime time? Griffin threw in some anti-Fox snark later in the interview:

What part has Fox News played in your strategic thinking? Are they a model for you, or a bete noire, or a cautionary tale?

I think what they’ve done has been pretty incredible over the last 15 years. They saw an opening and grabbed it, the whole area of conservatives who felt disenfranchised, and they own it. I don’t agree with how they approach news, because I don’t always think they base it in fact, but I respect how they went out and got this huge audience. I think I’ve looked at them and recognized that you’ve got to find your space. I don’t think there’s equivalency between Fox and MSNBC, although I do think a lot of people are glad there is an MSNBC to take on the big, bad Fox. I don’t think we’re nearly as based in ideology the way they are, but we definitely have tried to find a space the way they found their space.

Nat Brown is a former deputy web editor of Foreign Affairs and a former deputy managing editor of National Review Online.


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