(AP) MSNBC has hired brash former New York Post Editor Jerry Nachman as the struggling cable news network’s No. 2 executive and host of a late afternoon talk show.
Nachman promised to bring “a certain amount of flamboyance” to MSNBC, which has trailed the cable news ratings leaders, Fox News Channel and CNN.
Nachman, who has worked in local TV news, written for the prime-time drama, “UC: Undercover” and produced “Politically Incorrect,” will be MSNBC’s editor in chief. He’ll report to top executive Erik Sorenson.
“Erik’s idea of being a player-coach just kind of blew me away,” Nachman said. “That’s hard to do in this stratified business. He said he was looking for a kind of all-purpose batting and pitching instructor as well as a guy who’s going to play.”
His show has no premiere date.
Sorenson is trying to position MSNBC as “America’s Newschannel,” marked by lively talk that cuts across the ideological spectrum. He’s hired former GOP presidential contender Alan Keyes as a talk show host, and Phil Donahue will start his own nightly show soon.
Fox continued atop the cable news ratings in April, the fourth straight month it has beaten CNN. Fox averaged 686,000 viewers for the month, compared to CNN’s 557,000 and MSNBC’s 279,000.
MSNBC is currently positioned with little identity between CNN’s traditional news approach and Fox’s “brash cable pinball machine,” Nachman said. “There’s plenty of room to go where they ain’t,” he said.
He wouldn’t discuss specific plans, however.
At CNN, executives believe Nachman’s hiring is a signal MSNBC is looking to emulate Fox more than CNN. “MSNBC was looking for a direction and now they have one,” spokeswoman Christa Robinson said. “We wish him well.”
Fox News Channel dismissed the news. “MSNBC is irrelevant,” spokesman Robert Zimmerman said.
Sorenson said he looked to Nachman to bring “grown-up leadership and supervision” to his newsroom. MSNBC wants to compete with Fox, but Sorenson cautioned against the idea the network will imitate Fox.
“I don’t think they’ve done a lot wrong,” Nachman said, referring to Fox. “The question is: Will the glow endure? You have to look at it like President Bush’s approval ratings.”