MSNBC has brutal day with historic viewership declines, Election Night meltdowns

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Media top headlines November 3

In media news today, CNN’s Van Jones calls Glenn Youngkin a ‘delta variant of Trumpism,’ MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace says critical race theory is not real, and Joy Reid says the education issue is ‘code’ for White parents who don’t want race taught in schools

MSNBC had a tough time on Tuesday with historic ratings declines followed by an evening of its hosts and pundits being ridiculed for a series of election night meltdowns and inaccurate claims.

October cable viewership was unveiled earlier in the day, indicating that Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s loss isn’t the liberal network’s only reason to panic.  

MSNBC finished October with its lowest-rated month among the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults age 25-54 since October 2015. It was also MSNBC’s worst month among the demo during the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. since December 2015. 

Conservatives couldn’t get enough of MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid on Tuesday night as the Virginia gubernatorial race didn’t go their way – but the network struggled to find viewers in October. 
(MSNBC)

MSNBC had its smallest audience among total viewers from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. on weekdays since January 2017. 

“The 11th Hour With Brian Williams,” “All In With Chris Hayes,” “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” “The Beat with Ari Melber,” “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” “Morning Joe,” MTP Daily” and “The Rachel Maddow Show” all set yearly lows in either total viewership, the key demo or both. 

Some of MSNBC’s struggles programs had their worst performance in years, including “The Last Word” and “Morning Joe,” which both delivered the smallest audience among the coveted demo since 2015. “The Rachel Maddow Show” had its smallest demo audience since January 2016, and “The 11th Hour With Brian Williams” had its worst turnout of all time in the crucial category. 

If MSNBC’s day couldn’t get any worse, the left-wing network became a laughingstock during its coverage when Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid and Nicolle Wallace had a hard time holding back their feelings on a rough night for Democrats. 

Conservatives joked that watching MSNBC was a “treat” as the trio of liberal hosts spent much of the night making excuses and blaming GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin’s success on backlash to critical race theory, which they claim doesn’t exist.

Here are some of MSNBC’s most memorable moments: 

Reid: ‘Education’ issue is ‘code’ for White parents who don’t want race taught in schools

Reid called the issue of education a “code” for White parents who don’t want their children to be taught about race. Citing exit polling, Reid noted that while the coronavirus factored low on the issues most important to Virginia voters this election, education ranked high. Reid used air quotes when saying the word education.

The MSNBC host then called it “code for White parents who don’t like the idea about teaching about race.”

“Unfortunately, race is just the most palpable tool in the tool kit, used to be in the Democratic Party back in the day, when there were Dixiecrats,” she continued. “And now of the Republican Party, it just is powerful.”

Reid also called Republicans a threat to national security.

MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace declared on Tuesday that critical race theory "isn’t real."

Wallace declares critical race theory ‘isn’t real’ during Virginia gubernatorial coverage

Critics of Youngkin have tried to tie him to former President Donald Trump and dismiss widespread education-related concerns of parents in the state but Wallace, the GOP flack turned fanatically liberal pundit, managed to do both in one partisan rant. 

“He worshipped at the altar of Donald Trump … he did not really put much distance between himself and Donald Trump on the big lie or the deadly insurrection,” Wallace said. “So, I think that the real ominous thing, is that critical race theory, which isn’t real, turned the suburbs 15 points to the Trump-insurrection-endorsed Republican.”

Critical race theory, a curriculum which is based on the notion U.S. institutions are inherently racist, has become a hot button issue for parents concerned about what their children are learning in schools, with some claiming it unnecessarily divides students by race. The phrase appears on the state Department of Education website.

Andrea Mitchell calls Youngkin ‘textbook case’ of dishonest culture warrior

Mitchell also spouted MSNBC’s talking point that critical race theory is simply a bogus reason why Youngkin gained popularity in the commonwealth. She claimed that Youngkin ran a tight race against McAuliffe only because he “arguably distorted” the issue regarding education. Like many other journalists, she claimed that critical race theory is not being taught in Virginia schools. 

“Education, Glenn Youngkin is almost a textbook case of someone who has taken a cultural issue, and arguably distorted it, that is the accusation and according to all of our fact-checking, you know, critical race theory is not taught in Virginia schools, it’s not a big deal, but it’s become, you know, a cause of outrage in so many school boards,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s guest White House correspondent Kristen Welker agreed, adding, “we can’t find that it is being taught anywhere.”

However, the Virginia Department of Education displayed several examples of promoting the phrase “critical race theory.” One included a presentation from 2015 – when McAuliffe previously served as governor – that encouraged schools to “embrace Critical Race Theory” in “order to re-engineer attitudes and belief systems.”

Further, documents obtained in July found that Virginia’s Loudoun County Public Schools spent more than $34,000 for critical race theory coaching for teachers.

During October, "The Rachel Maddow Show" had its smallest monthly audience among the key news demographic since January 2016. (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Chris Hayes ripped for calling education concerns a ‘right-wing grievance’

Hayes was scolded on Twitter for framing the concern over education as a “right-wing grievance.”

The “All In” host tweeted, “It’s been interesting how much ‘education’ and schools as a focus of right-wing grievance has been consistent even as the particular grievance keeps shifting. A year ago it was going to be all about how schools were still closed! Then they opened and it was both masks and crt.”

Framing the issue as a “grievance” brought on by the right led to criticism from several people on both sides of the political aisle.

MSNBC contributor peeved Youngkin convinced voters he’s not racist

 “The only reason that we’re talking about critical race theory is because Glenn Youngkin had 18 months to convince people that he was not a fire-breathing horns out of his skull racist. You can only talk about critical race theory if you present yourself as the kind of neutral white guy who’s like, ‘I don’t dislike brown people, I just think this is going a little too far.’ So it only works if you’ve been able to present yourself as neutral or non-hostile on race issues. That’s not something that a lot of Republicans are very good at,” MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson said, according to NewsBusters. 

Former Republican Delegate Winsome Sears celebrates winning the race for Lt. Governor of Virginia .(REUTERS/ Jonathan Ernst)
(REUTERS/ Jonathan Ernst)

Jason Johnson declares Winsome Sears aligns herself with ‘Whiteness’

Winsome Sears delivered a patriotic speech as she claimed victory in her race to become the first woman and woman of color to be elected Virginia’s lieutenant governor. But during a Twitter spat she was accused by an MSNBC contributor of aligning herself with “Whiteness.” 

A liberal Daily Beast columnist declared that Virginia election results prove “Whiteness is undefeated,” but was quickly reminded that those same voters appeared to be electing Sears. 

MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson swooped in to defend his fellow liberal. 

“You can align yourself with ‘Whiteness’ as a world view and still be a non-White person,” Johnson tweeted. 

Sears immigrated to the United States from Jamaica as a child, and was the director of a Salvation Army homeless shelter prior to entering politics. She also owns an appliance and plumbing repair store in Virginia, and previously served as vice president of the Virginia Board of Education.

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Fox News’ Cortney O’Brien, Emma Colton and Lindsay Kornick contributed to this report. 

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