Inevitable: John Kasich hoping to join CNN or MSNBC before possible 2020 run

There’s no pressing question in American politics to which the answer is “John Kasich.”

Except “Which anti-Trump Republican is the most likely to sign up with a left-friendly cable news network to bitch about the president all day?”

Maybe also, “Which Republican would pose the weakest primary challenge to Trump?”

Seriously, America. One Ana Navarro is enough.

Republican John Kasich, who is thinking about running for president in 2020, is likely to announce as soon as this week that he will join a major cable news network, CNBC has learned.

Kasich has signaled to close advisors and some donors that he is looking to sign with either CNN or MSNBC as he finishes his two-term tenure as Ohio’s governor, according to three people with knowledge of the conversations, including two who have been close to the governor since his 2016 presidential run.

These people would not say the role Kasich will play at a network, only to say that he’s ruled out joining Fox News Channel. Kasich hosted his own show on Fox News for several years in the 2000s.

If you’re thinking hard about an independent run for president in 2020, what’s the easiest way to start introducing yourself to voters early and often? Right. Gotta get a toehold in cable news, if only for a little balance in case they decided to become “Trump’s accomplice” again in 2020. But Kasich also wants to be there as the Mueller findings unspool to make the case that America can and must do better. He’ll have an opportunity to push his anti-Trump message every day now to a national audience as the campaign heats up, and to be paid for the privilege.

Assuming he gets offers from both CNN and MSNBC, I wonder how he’ll go about choosing. If he’s doing this with an eye to 2020 then I can see it either way. Signing with CNN would be the most “third-party” option. They’re the least overtly ideological of the three networks and thus presumably the network with the most centrist viewers. Those are the people Kasich would be pitching himself to next year. CNN also has more of an ideological mix of panelists than MSNBC does (although virtually all are relentlessly anti-Trump), which could also help a bit with his ideological re-branding. He’s not fully Republican but also not fully Democratic, just like the CNN commentariat writ large.

On the other hand, his hardest task as an independent would be convincing Democratic voters to support him instead of their own nominee. He’ll reach more of those people on MSNBC than he will on CNN. He’ll reach more people on MSNBC, period, as their ratings in the evening are consistently much better than the Turner network’s. He’d likely do more to help himself with Dems in 10 minutes on MSNBC, nodding along, droning, “You make a good point, Rachel,” than he will in 10 CNN segments.

Plus, MSNBC is where all the truly hardcore Republican-hating ex-Republicans are. Sure, CNN will give you Navarro now and then, but MSNBC gave Nicolle Wallace her own show. You want the 200-proof MAGA hate from a center-rightist, you don’t turn on CNN and hope Rick Wilson shows up within the hour. You flip on MSNBC first thing in the morning and watch Joe “Gun Control” Scarborough interview Steve Schmidt about which Biblical calamity Trump most reminds him of. Plus, Kasich is irascible, a necessary (but not sufficient) ingredient to all media-friendly anti-Trumpism. You need to seem angry, not just be angry. That’s why Jeff Flake’s headed off to CBS instead of to a recurring gig on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show.

Kasich will fit right in on MSNBC. I’m gonna wager that that’s where he’s going. Exit question via Jonathan Last: Who would give Trump the toughest primary challenge? Is it Mattis?