Stories have circulated recently that NBC and Microsoft may be rethinking their joint venture ever since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made some public comments that, had he to do it all over again, he wouldn't. But those comments were misconstrued to mean they weren't interested in pursuing any more TV deals.
These rumors are supposedly hurting morale.
But the morale may have already been injured. MSNBC remains a distant third to Fox News and CNN, and that's a spot General Electric is not comfortable in.
What these stories haven't said is that virtually all of GE's businesses are either No. 1 or a strong number No. 2 in their respective fields. And, if these businesses can't get into either of those positions, there are usually massive changes. Maybe NBC wants to walk.
As pointed out by a Wall Street Journal article, "Hardball with Chris Matthews," has been a bright spot. NBC executives publicly say they are behind the channel. Healthy ratings during the Democratic National Convention are helping matters.
With veteran news producer Rick Kaplan now on board as president, there has been an attempt by MSNBC to go for quality, getting away from the days of Geraldo Rivera-type of low-budget, cheesy TV, which typically offered up a Hollywood Squares-like screen of over-gabbing pundits.
The question that needs to be asked is: What is MSNBC doing to get the next, big primetime news personality, someone like Bill O'Reilly or Larry King?
Are there still more lessons to be learned from Fox News? The network had a clear objective -- that in times of lackluster news, when there are no wars or major news tragedies -- you need a strong, perhaps over-the-top personality to carry the branded torch for the network.
MSNBC needs more fire.