I don’t know how many people remember that, back in 1996 when MSNBC started, it was billed as a full partnership between Microsoft and NBC News, and that the programming and style of the channel lived up to its billing. Along side of news programs lived computer-focused shows. One of its first programs was called The Site, a show completely focused on computers, technology and the internet which was hosted by blathering sourpuss dimwit Soledad O’Brien and co-hosted by a computer generated virtual host voiced by computer expert Leo Laporte.
The site MSNBC.com was launched simultaneously with the network, back when mainstream news sources online were slim afterthoughts, and lauded as a giant step forward for internet news delivery. It was bright and brash and made CNN look like a dinosaur. It was stunning and exciting. All together, it felt like the internet had arrived. I was a huge fan.
Microsoft gradually pulled out of the TV side of MSNBC, divesting itself of that sinking ship in 2005. Now, Microsoft has ended their involvement the internet side. And at least part of the reason is that they no longer wanted to be shackled to the channel’s wild-eyed leftism.
Microsoft, in particular, had grown frustrated by contract terms requiring it to exclusively feature MSNBC.com content on its own websites. That exasperation was exacerbated by the MSNBC cable channel’s strategy to counter Fox News Channel’s appeal to conservative viewers by tailoring its programming for an audience with a liberal viewpoint.
The strategy fed a perception that material from MSNBC’s website was politically slanted, too.
“Being limited to MSNBC.com content was problematic to us because we couldn’t have the multiple news sources and the multiple perspectives that our users were telling us that they wanted,” said Bob Visse, general manager of MSN.com.
MSNBC.com now resolves to NBCNews.com. Microsoft is letting NBCNews stay put in its offices until they can find a new facility.