Is MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on the way out?

Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract is nearing its end and HuffPost reports MSNBC has not made any moves to retain him. That’s a pretty bad sign for his future with the network:

Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” has just four weeks left in his contract, and the cable network does not appear to be interested in renewing his deal. Four well-placed sources tell HuffPost that MSNBC has not been in contact with O’Donnell’s team of representatives to negotiate a new deal.

The absence of active negotiations weeks before a contract expires is highly unusual and often a sign that a contract won’t be renewed. News networks normally don’t risk letting the contract of a host who has a highly rated program expire or even come close to expiring before renegotiating. A short time-frame puts the network at a strategic disadvantage in talks, that’s why cable networks often start negotiating renewals six to nine months in advance of a contract ending.

O’Donnell’s show is currently the #2 program on the network but NBC chairman Andrew Lack is said to be no fan of the show. He believes O’Donnell’s ratings are the result of riding Rachel Maddow’s coattails. HuffPost reports that Lack requested O’Donnell move his show to the 6 pm time slot but O’Donnell, whose contract requires a prime-time slot, refused. Lack is supposedly interested in moving disgraced news anchor Brian Williams into the 10 pm slot. So maybe Lack is going to get the last word by allowing O’Donnell’s contract to lapse.

Whoever gets the 10 pm slot will have a strong lead in. Rachel Maddow has been winning her 9 pm time slot recently as her show has become a clearing house for anti-Trump news and in particular for speculation about the Russia collusion story. The Intercept recently quantified Maddow’s fixation on the Russia story:

The Intercept conducted a quantitative study of all 28 TRMS episodes in the six-week period between February 20 and March 31. Russia-focused segments accounted for 53 percent of these broadcasts.

That figure is conservative, excluding segments where Russia was discussed, but was not the overarching topic.

MSNBC’s improved ratings aren’t better because the shows have gotten any better or more reliable but because the progressive base of the Democratic party is agitated and desperate for oppo-research on Trump. That said, Lawrence O’Donnell has always seemed like a loose cannon. Here he is screaming at a guest until Joe Scarborough has to call for a commercial (start at 2 minutes in):

Remember him trying to start a fight with Tagg Romney?

It must be possible to do better than this rage-filled socialist.