MSNBC President Rashida Jones dodged questions about the fate of the left-leaning network’s primetime lineup once its star host Rachel Maddow steps down, even as panic continues to grow among the rank and file.
Staffers at MSNBC have become increasingly concerned about the young exec’s strategic vision for the network. While its primetime future remains murky, many fear she is picking a costly and potentially disastrous battle with CNN, The Post reported last week.
In a Wednesday interview, Jones remained tight-lipped.
“There are a lot of things we are figuring out and what Rachel’s portfolio looks like and where it shows up and all of those things,” Jones said at a media conference Wednesday. “I don’t really have a concrete answer.”
In August, Maddow inked a new contract worth a reported $30 million a year through 2024, which will let her develop projects across the network and also allow her to step aside from hosting her 9 p.m. primetime show within the next year.
Jones, who was named president of the network last year, just shy of her 40th birthday, said during the conference that a major goal for Maddow and MSNBC is finding the best home for the anchor’s content across the company’s portfolio.
“We’ve got parts of our business that focus on documentaries, that focus on long form, scripted, unscripted, films, podcasts, audio, all of these things,” the exec told The Information’s virtual WTF Summit.
“Part of the process that we are figuring out with Rachel is how do we get exposure on more of those places?” Jones added. “We do know that the work she and the team will put out every day is of high interest.”
When pressed again during the Q&A portion of her talk on how Maddow’s exit will shake up primetime, Jones sidestepped the issue.
“It’s something we are working through. There’s no immediate rush here,” she said. “Someone said to me today, ‘those who know don’t talk and those who talk don’t know.’ While we figure out internally and with Rachel and the team how this all works, I expect the speculation to continue, I expect the rumors to continue. This comes with the territory.”
Jones was likewise vague when pressed about MSNBC’s criteria to buff up its primetime line up, adding that she’s seeking “interesting voices” with “interesting perspectives on things.”
In internal company meetings, sources said the exec has touted the network’s ratings wins over CNN on breaking stories and has pushed for more hard news coverage without much mention of Maddow or the fate of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the network’s highest-rated program.