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WaPo interview: What happens to CNN and MSNBC if Biden wins?

Today is election day and even if we know the results tomorrow, it's precarious to try to predict how CNN and MSNBC will react because there are so many mitigating factors. However, I was willing to ponder a few scenarios with the Washington Post based on my experience at MSNBC.

Donald Trump provides free content on a daily basis for the broadcast networks which thrive on reality drama. MSNBC in particular focuses on the radical politician often more times than either CNN or FOX News, and the liberal network has benefited more than the others for its intense focus on the president. He is low-hanging fruit when it comes to cable news, and MSNBC in particular is in autopilot Trump-mode most of the time.

“I think they’re going to feel very lost, because they are largely addicted to [Trump] at this point and that sense of chaos,” said Ariana Pekary, who left MSNBC in July after a nearly seven-year career that included serving as a producer for Lawrence O’Donnell’s evening show.

I said that last week, before Ben Smith reported how Andy Lack, then-chair of NBC News, anticipated in 2016 that MSNBC's revenue would drop 30% if Hillary Clinton won.

As a result, I think polarization may get worse. Even though the people at MSNBC certainly want to see the Republican leader voted out of office, they will struggle to find a new target if Trump ultimately loses. That may depend on how the Republican party behaves (what investigations may they attempt?) -- and in turn, where the Never-Trumpers direct their efforts in the future. The network has banked on the likes of Nicolle Wallace, Steve Schmidt, and Charlie Sykes, but what if their conservative roots take hold again?

“I don’t know how they will play in a post-Trump era,” Pekary said. If they start taking swipes at a new Democratic president, she predicted, “they will find themselves on air fewer and fewer times."

MSNBC producers will not have the stomach to continue their alliance if Never-Trump Republicans become critical of Joe Biden, because MSNBC will fear turning off their audience.

Conversely, if Trump does win, then, well, we pretty much know what to expect. It will be the "Trump Show, Part 2." Sequels are never as good as the original, so just imagine. I wish I could say the cable producers would appeal to their better angels, but their jobs (which, primarily, is to rate) likely won't let them.

Full article: "What happens to CNN and MSNBC if Biden wins? It’s complicated."

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