Television network executives looking for new talent are accustomed to getting pleas from agents urging them to check out their clients.
But in the last few weeks, MSNBC has experienced a different kind of onslaught: a flood of unsolicited endorsements from fans of liberal radio hosts touting them as the network's next potential big star.
The grass-roots campaigns were triggered by the news that the cable channel is contemplating creating a new show for its 7 p.m. time slot, currently occupied by a repeat of "Countdown With Keith Olbermann." That prompted the launch of independent Facebook groups extolling the merits of two radio hosts: Cenk Uygur of the Internet show "The Young Turks" and Sam Seder of Air America.
The lobbying efforts have drawn thousands of supporters and led fans to pepper MSNBC with e-mails in support of their favorite personality. Hundreds of people have posted messages of support online, some even creating their own video spots. (Give the time slot to "The Young Turks," warns one, "or I'll switch back to CNN.") Liberal bloggers on sites like MyDD.com have also weighed in.
They all hope that MSNBC will choose a host cast from the same left-leaning mold as Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, who have helped power the cable channel's ratings.
"You have a block with two unabashedly progressive voices that doesn't exist anywhere else on cable news," said Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder of Daily Kos, who urged his readers to back Seder for the spot. "We want to take advantage of locking up that third hour, if we can."
MSNBC President Phil Griffin said he's not necessarily looking for someone who shares the political leanings of Olbermann and Maddow, but is delighted by the response.
"If people identify with us, I'm thrilled," he said. "Obviously, we're going to have flow between our shows," Griffin added. "But it isn't going to be ideology that drives it. I want that hour to be edgy, to be smart, to be a little snarky."
Both Sam and Cenk are good friends of the site and John's appeared on both of their programs, so we're not taking sides on this one. We'd be thrilled if either one gets the nod. But it's also nice to know that Griffin is sensing which way the wind blows and is receptive to listening to us instead of throwing yet another moronic right winger to spoon feed conservative talking points.
So good luck to both Sam and Cenk. Hope we see one of you (or both, dare we hope!) on the air really soon.