MSNBC takes over Channelside for RNC coverage in Tampa
MSNBC's plans for covering the Republican National Convention in Tampa include taking over several spots inside the Channelside entertainment complex, converting the piano bar Howl at the Moon into a home for two programs and creating an outdoor set for Chris Matthews' show Hardball.
The location at Channelside places MSNBC, which features liberal-centered commentary, further away from the GOP convention than rivals CNN and Fox News; their broadcast areas are adjacent to the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
But because MSNBC's sets are outside the pedestrian-restricted security zones for the RNC, the general public can attend live broadcasts of some shows.
MSNBC president Phil Griffin compared the political conventions to the Olympics; a spectacle which draws in casual viewers, giving cable channels a golden opportunity to snag new fans with major coverage.
“There are people who never watch politics who will watch this,” Griffin said. “We want to keep a few of them around, afterwards.”
The channel's morning programs Way Too Early with Willie Geist and Morning Joe will air from Howl at the Moon, renamed the Morning Joe Elephant Bar at Channelside, from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. each day, Aug. 27 to 31, according to the channel.
Morning Joe hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, a former member of the U.S. House from the Panhandle, will also appear at a special luncheon/fundraiser for the Poynter Institute, the school for journalists which owns the Tampa Bay Times. That event is scheduled for lunchtime Aug. 28, at the Hilton in Carillon Park, 950 Lake Carillon Drive, south of Ulmerton Road in St. Petersburg.
The morning show broadcasts from Channelside will be open to the general public at Howl at the Moon, and the channel also will organize Morning Joe viewing parties in the Boat House Bar at Channelside, with personalized button making, photo booths and free coffee.
Chuck Todd, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent, kicks off their RNC coverage with a special on the GOP nominee titled Mitt Romney: The Making of a Candidate Aug. 24 at 10 p.m. Todd also will host his Daily Rundown show from inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum at 9 a.m. during the convention, followed by Andrea Mitchell Reports at 10 a.m., which Mitchell will also host from the Forum.
Matthews will host Hardball from an outdoor set at Channelside at 5 p.m. each day, leading into prime time coverage from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. hosted by Rachel Maddow from inside the forum. According to the channel, Maddow will be joined by Matthews, Ed Schultz, Lawrence O'Donnell, Rev. Al Sharpton, Chris Hayes, and former John McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt.
The list of contributors can change, but so far the roster includes: anchors Alex Wagner and Melissa Harris-Perry, former RNC chairman Michael Steele, Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, Howard Fineman from the Huffington Post, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post.