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Farrow — a journalist and human rights activist and the only biological child of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen — has served in the Obama administration’s foreign policy department and also at the State Department, where he founded the Office of Global Youth Issues and was an advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the Arab Spring uprising.
The 25-year-old Rhodes Scholar has appeared on MSNBC and CNN and also has written for multiple publications including The Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune and The Atlantic. His television experience is limited, but he fits the wonky mold of MSNBC in the Rachel Maddow era. Like his mother, Farrow has advocated for children caught in armed conflicts, and addressed the issues of AIDS in Africa and the genocide in Darfur. A graduate of Yale Law School and member of the New York Bar, Farrow is something of a child prodigy. He’s been involved in NGO work since he was a teenager. As a special adviser for humanitarian and NGO affairs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he was a close colleague of the late Richard Holbrooke.
MSNBC president Phil Griffin lately has been tinkering with the network’s primetime and early prime lineup, including moving Chris Hayes, who previously occupied the weekend morning slot and was a frequent fill-in for Maddow, to weeknights at 8 p.m. last April. Hayes, whose weekend show Up, was a languid issues-driven discussion program, has struggled somewhat at 8, where the pace is faster and the ratings pressure greater. And in August, Ed Schultz — who was displaced by Hayes — was moved from weekends back to weeknights at 5 p.m., canceling the repeat of Hardball With Chris Matthews in favor of one airing at 7 p.m.
But Griffin also has shown a willingness to take chances with less seasoned TV news practitioners. He added Al Sharpton to the lineup in 2011 and on Oct. 11, Alec Baldwin premieres his Friday night interview program Up Late With Alec Baldwin. And sources say he has been in discussions with Farrow for some time. An MSNBC spokesperson declined comment.
MSNBC’s programming strategy of political talk and analysis means that to some degree its ratings ebb and flow with the election cycle. And unlike competitor CNN, it does not get much of a ratings bump from big, breaking news stories that fall outside the beltway purview. But Griffin has repeatedly asserted that appointment viewing is the sustainable strategy in a crowded content landscape where news updates are available instantly.
For the third quarter, MSNBC edged out CNN among total viewers and the 25-54 demographic, sliding into second place behind cable news ratings leader Fox News Channel; MSNBC posted slight gains compared to the previous quarter while its competitors experienced declines.
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