Regardless of her future, Greta Van Susteren leaves an impressive legacy

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Greta Van Susteren’s tenure at MSNBC was an uneventful one thanks to low ratings, little buzz and a relatively centrist host failing to connect with a largely progressive audience. 

The 63-year-old cable news veteran and former criminal defense attorney is now an alum of CNN, where she rose to prominence during the O.J. trial; Fox News, where she spent 15 years in primetime; and MSNBC, where she lasted only six months before she received the quickest hook seen on national television since Chevy Chase in late night. 

It’s unknown why the network let Greta go without giving her a chance to build a brand and grow the show, but ratings were the most likely cause, as is usually the case.

{mosads}”For the Record with Greta” was almost always the lowest-rated program in total viewers and in the key 25-54 demographic that advertisers covet most. 

On Wednesday night, for example, the results were indicative of Van Susteren’s performance since launching in January, as every program from 5:00 p.m. Eastern to midnight captured more than one million viewers, except for hers, which couldn’t even break 900,000. 

Van Susteren was also the lowest rated host in the 25-54 demographic from 5:00 p.m. to midnight, losing audience despite a lead-in from Chuck Todd’s “Meet the Press Daily,” only to see the audience rebound for Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” after her program was over

In contrast, MSNBC has surged since the election of Donald Trump. The network is enjoying its highest-rated year in its 21-year history and has become a serious contender to Fox News for the first time this century while comfortably beating CNN. 

But “For the Record” appeared out of place on the progressive primetime of MSNBC. The show was–for lack of a better term–fair and balanced, and the host wasn’t any different from the one that host on Fox for 15 years: Measured, meticulous, relatively low key. 

MSNBC’s farewell memo was as cryptic and as was perfunctory.

“As we continue to grow and evolve as a network during one of the most newsworthy periods in recent history I have important news about our 6p.m. [ET} hour,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin wrote in a memo sent to The Hill and other news outlets. 

“MSNBC and Greta Van Susteren have decided to part ways. Greta is a well-regarded television veteran and one of only a few broadcasters who can say they’ve hosted shows at all three major cable news networks,” he continued. 

“We are grateful to her and wish her the best.” 

Griffin went on to share that Ari Melber, another former attorney and MSNBC chief legal correspondent, will take Greta’s place. 

Where she goes from here–if anywhere–is anyone’s guess. 

She’s 62 and has hit for the major cable news cycle by hosting shows on CNN, MSNBC and Fox. She wouldn’t come cheap if her Fox contract of a reported $12 million per year is any indication. 

In looking back at her decision to leave Fox after contract re-negotiations fell apart quickly following the forced resignation of Roger Ailes, Greta may not have realized how good she had it at the time. 

In September, this was my observation on Greta’s departure from Fox:

Greta Van Susteren is likable, refreshingly candid on social media and respected by most folks in the industry. She also just engaged in the biggest miscalculation of her career. 
In leaving Fox News after attempting to renegotiate her contract by using an out-clause created with the resignation of former Fox News CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes, Van Susteren, 62, is about to discover that no one host in cable news had it remotely as good as she did.” 
How so? 
Simple: By being wedged in between the third highest rated program on cable news, “Special Report with Bret Baier,” and the perennial top-rated show on cable news, “The O’Reilly Factor,” it pretty much can’t get any better than owning such a coveted time slot that sits between the two.

Translation; There was no real pressure for Greta to perform in her old Fox timeslot, the most cushy in all of cable news. Strong lead-in, strongest show behind it. She left anyway by overvaluing her crossover appeal and talent. 
In the end, Greta’s final two tweets will as an MSNBC employee will be tragically ironic. 
The first tweet was about Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle long-term contract:

The second was about her own departure:

That’s how it works in this unforgiving business. If it ends here on a major level for Greta, she can take solace in knowing she earned tens of millions of dollars while having a huge platform to help with her unyielding charity work and the respect of former presidents Republican and Democratic alike. 
For 99 percent of those who get into television to get their own national show of any kind, that ain’t a bad resume or legacy. 
Hopefully for Greta, it continues somewhere in some capacity.
Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) is a media reporter for The Hill.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags CNN Donald Trump Fox News Greta Van Susteren Joe Concha MSNBC

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