MSNBC’s talks with Hewitt come at a time of increased internal tension at the network. Some staff are worried that NBC News chairman Andy Lack is leading the cable network in a more conservative direction. At an NBC News town hall after the election, Lack said that the organization should be focused on appealing to America’s heartland, according to people at the meeting. The remark was widely seen as a directive to, as one source put it, “focus on Trump voters.”
Lack also hired former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren and gave her the 6 p.m. slot on MSNBC’s weekday schedule. Since Van Susteren’s show debuted in January, the ratings have been, by any objective measure, abysmal. Van Susteren’s hire was not well-received internally at MSNBC, with Chris Matthews being especially frustrated by the decision, according to two network sources.