Donahue (2002 talk show)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Presented byPhil Donahue
Country of originUnited States
Running time60 minutes
Original networkMSNBC
Original releaseJuly 15, 2002 (2002-07-15) –
February 25, 2003 (2003-02-25)

In 2002, Phil Donahue returned to television to host a talk show called Donahue on MSNBC.


Its debut Nielsen ratings were strong, but its audience evaporated over the following months. In late August 2002, it got one of the lowest possible ratings (0.1), less than MSNBC's average for the day of 0.2. On February 25, 2003, MSNBC cancelled the show, citing low viewership. However, that month, Donahue averaged 446,000 viewers and became the highest rated show on the network.[1][2] Other MSNBC shows, including Hardball with Chris Matthews and Scarborough Country, averaged lower ratings in 2005.[3]

Later, the website reported it had received a copy of an internal NBC memo that mentioned that Donahue had to be fired because he would be a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war".[4] Donahue was a vocal critic of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. He mentioned the internal memo later in an interview on WILL-AM, a public radio station.[citation needed]

Keith Olbermann, arguably the network's most prominent commentator since Donahue, told TV Guide in 2007 that the cancellation had as much to do with the show's production cost as it did with political orientation.[5]


In September 2002, Oprah Winfrey praised Donahue saying "the bottom line is we need you, Phil, because we need to be challenged by the voice of dissent".[6]


  1. ^ "Phil Donahue Gets The Ax, MSNBC Cancels Donahue's Talk Show Due To Low Ratings". CBS News. February 25, 2003.
  2. ^ Carter, Bill (February 26, 2003). "MSNBC Cancels Phil Donahue". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "2005 Competitive Program Analysis from Nielsen Media Research" (PDF). TV Newser. Media Bistro. 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 29, 2007.
  4. ^ Ellis, Rick (February 25, 2003). "Commentary: The Surrender Of MSNBC". Archived from the original on April 1, 2003.
  5. ^ Battaglio, Steven (February 22, 2007). "The Biz". TV Guide.
  6. ^ "Oprah Talks to Phil Donahue" (page 10),, from the September 2002 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. Retrieved 25 july 2016.

External links[edit]