Phil Griffin

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Phil Griffin
Philip T. Griffin

(1956-11-27) November 27, 1956 (age 66)
Alma materVassar College
OccupationPresident of MSNBC

Philip T. Griffin (born November 27, 1956)[1] is an American television executive, who from 2008 to 2021 served as president of MSNBC, a United States cable news channel.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

The youngest of four children, Griffin grew up in Chappaqua, New York[2] and Toledo, Ohio.[3] His father was an executive at Macy's. Griffin's family were Democrats and politically minded. As a child, his mother took him to rallies for the hungry. His brother was a conscientious objector.[3]

In 1979, Griffin graduated with a degree in English from Vassar College.[2] He wrote his thesis on Milton's Paradise Lost.[2]

Early career[edit]

Following graduation, Griffin moved to Atlanta to take a minimum wage job at the fledgling CNN.[2] Griffin was working a camera at CNN when it aired for the first time, on June 1, 1980.[2]

At CNN, he befriended future MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who worked there as a sportscaster.[2] After several years with CNN, working primarily as a writer-producer-editor in their sports department, Griffin began work at NBC in 1983,[2] working as a relief producer for vacationing producers at The Today Show.[3] Six months later Griffin convinced The Today Show's executive producer to hire him on staff.[3]

In 1987, he became a producer at USA Today: The Television Show. After it was canceled, he returned to The Today Show.[3] At NBC, Griffin had several jobs, including as a senior broadcast producer for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. He led the NBC News coverage of the O. J. Simpson trial.[4]


Griffin was with MSNBC from its start in 1996.[2] He has been executive producer for shows such as Hardball with Chris Matthews[5] and MSNBC's The Big Show with Keith Olbermann.[6] He was the head of prime-time programming for the network.[5] Griffin approved the launch of many shows, including The Rachel Maddow Show and Morning Joe.[3] He also hired Lawrence O'Donnell, Ed Schultz,[7] and Chris Hayes.[8]

In 2005, former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Zucker appointed Griffin senior vice president of NBC News and in 2008, president of MSNBC.[3]

In 2013, Griffin said he wanted MSNBC to be more of a lifestyle brand than a political hub.[3] In 2014, Griffin said the network would take steps to widen its demographic to include a more ethnically diverse audience, to increase its coverage outside of the Washington, D.C. beltway and to appeal to younger viewers, including with online initiatives.[9] Griffin has asserted that MSNBC is an independent voice that does not favor Democrats. He has rejected claims that partisanship is equivalent at MSNBC and Fox News.[10]

In 2016, after MSNBC started covering more hard news during the day, Griffin likened its evening shows to an op-ed page in a newspaper.[11] The network had its highest ever ratings in 2016 and in the first quarter of 2017 averaged 1.46 million views in prime time, beating CNN.[12] Griffin said that he thought the surge in audience was attributable to scoops and new information, rather than partisan leanings.[13]

In May 2017, Griffin signed a multi-year renewal contract to remain as president of MSNBC in the midst of a ratings surge during and following the 2016 presidential election.[14] In June 2017, he said that the network was making an effort to include diverse political voices.[15] Earlier in the year, Griffin signed former George W. Bush communications director Nicolle Wallace to host an afternoon program for the network.[16]

In October 2019, Ronan Farrow reported that in a staff meeting, Griffin showed a picture of television reporter Maria Menounos having a "wardrobe malfunction" with her bathing suit. "Would you look at that?" Griffin reportedly said while exhaling hard. "Not bad, not bad."[17]

On December 7, 2020, MSNBC announced that at the end of January, Griffin would be replaced with journalist and television executive Rashida Jones.[18]

Personal life[edit]

In 1997, Griffin married Kory Kim Apton in a civil ceremony in New York.[19][20] They have two children, daughter Riley and son Jackson.[21]

He has said his idols are former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and television news executive Andrew Lack.[3] "I am one of the few people in television who never wanted to be on-air," he told The New Republic in 2013.[3]


  1. ^ "Person Details for Phil T Griffin, 'United States Public Records, 1970–2009'". FamilySearch. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gillette, Felix (October 28, 2008). "Original Cable Guy Phil Griffin Tastes Network Revenge". The New York Observer. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Dana, Rebecca (March 25, 2013). "Slyer Than Fox". The New Republic. Retrieved 2017-05-28.
  4. ^ Gillette, Felix (July 16, 2008). "Phil Griffin Gets New Title: President of MSNBC". The New York Observer. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Klaassen, Abbey (June 12, 2006). "'Today' Show's Phil Griffin to Oversee MSNBC". Ad Age. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Olbermann, Keith (November 6, 2010). "The Scandal That Ate My TV Program". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  7. ^ Kurtz, Howard (January 30, 2017). "Keith Olbermann: How Anger Fueled His Rise and Fall at MSNBC". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  8. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (September 2, 2013). "Twenty-Four-Hour Party People". Annals of the Media (story series). The New Yorker. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  9. ^ Battaglio, Stephen (December 29, 2014). "MSNBC to widen its scope and make other changes, its president says". Company Town (story series). Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  10. ^ Cogan, Marin (September 11, 2012). "The GQ+A: With MSNBC's Phil Griffin". GQ. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  11. ^ Gold, Hadas (June 1, 2016). "MSNBC's year of standing up straight". Politico. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  12. ^ THR Staff (April 13, 2017). Brower, Alison; Guthrie, Marisa (eds.). "The 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  13. ^ Steinberg, Brian (May 30, 2017). "MSNBC Chief Sees Hard News Focus, Trump Scandals Driving Ratings Surge". Variety. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  14. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (May 26, 2017). "MSNBC President Phil Griffin Signs New Deal; Whither Goest Lawrence O'Donnell?". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  15. ^ Steinberg, Brian; Littleton, Cynthia (June 13, 2017). "Cable News Wars: Inside the Unprecedented Battle for Viewers in Trump Era". Variety. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  16. ^ Steinberg, Brian (April 28, 2017). "MSNBC Sets Nicolle Wallace at 4 P.M. Hour". Variety. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  17. ^ Wulfsohn, Joseph A. "MSNBC boss Phil Griffin reportedly showed graphic Maria Menounos image at meeting, sparking backlash". Fox News Channel. Fox News. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  18. ^ Mullin, Benjamin; Flint, Joe (2020-12-07). "MSNBC to Name Rashida Jones President, Succeeding Phil Griffin". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  19. ^ Smith Brady, Lois (February 9, 1997). "Kory Apton and Phil Griffin". The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  20. ^ "Erna Neu Apton Obituary". The New York Times. April 9, 2006. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  21. ^ Guthrie, Marisa (October 3, 2012). "MSNBC President Phil Griffin on Whom He'd Poach From Fox News and Why Obama Avoids the Network (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 7, 2017.

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