MSNBC has abruptly cancelled the Phil Donahue show. To fill his slot, the network is expanding the news show that precedes him on the air, "Countdown: Iraq." Although the network cites poor ratings as the reason for the cancellation, the New York Times reports that Donahue "was actually attracting more viewers than any other program on MSNBC, even the channel's signature prime-time program 'Hardball with Chris Matthews.'" According to an internal NBC report, however, Donahue was axed because he presented a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war. ... He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives." The report went on to outline a possible nightmare scenario where the show becomes "a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." A source close to Donahue says, "It's not a coincidence that this decision comes the same week that MSNBC announces it's hired Dick Armey as a commentator and has both Jesse Ventura and Michael Savage joining the network as hosts. They're scared, and they decided to take the coward's road and slant towards the conservative crowd that watches Fox News."
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