MSNBC president Phil Griffin reacted to a month of disappointing ratings in a conversation with Variety's senior TV critic, Brian Steinberg.

With the exception of "The Rachel Maddow Show," the network's consistently highest-rated program, many MSNBC shows were bumped down from their usual spots and out of the top 20 programs. The network, which had effectively carved its place as the number two cable news network behind Fox News but above CNN, now finds itself in a more precarious position. And with Jeff Zucker revamping CNN and adding new and different programming, MSNBC's spot in second place is threatened.

In an interview with Steinberg, Griffin said, “There has been an inordinate amount of big, breaking news, and that is, honestly, when CNN does well. It’s pure muscle memory." He also noted that MSNBC's ratings thrived during the 2012 election year when viewers could tune in for 24/7 political analysis. Ratings are bound to drop in a non-election year.

The ratings trouble MSNBC is currently experiencing could be why Zucker has so adamantly pushed to "expand the definition of news" at CNN. At Fortune's Brainstorm Tech 2013 conference in Aspen last month, Zucker discussed a key change he has implemented at the network. He said:

You know, when I came in, one of the slogans at CNN was that "CNN equals politics." I put a line through that and said that CNN does not equal politics. Obviously, politics is a huge part of what we do and will continue to be. But really, [it] has to be that CNN is greater than politics. You know, we have two domestic cable network competitors who are basically about politics all the time. What I want CNN to be about is all of the news. And all of the news is not just what's happening in Washington or in the Middle East, but it's also about entertainment and business and sports and culture and things that we all talk about, but not just equals politics.

(h/t Variety)

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • 30. Erin Burnett OutFront

    CNN -- 493,000 total viewers

  • 29. HLN News

    HLN: 501,000 total viewers

  • 28. Dr. Drew On Call

    HLN: 520,000 total viewers

  • 27. Now In America

    HLN: 523,000 total viewers

  • 26. Nancy Grace

    HLN -- 559,000 total viewers

  • 25. Anderson Cooper 360

    CNN -- 560,000 total viewers

  • 24. Hardball with Chris Matthews

    MSNBC -- 577,000 total viewers

  • 23. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

    MSNBC -- 591,000 total viewers

  • 22. All In

    MSNBC -- 598,000 total viewers

  • 21. PoliticsNation

    MSNBC -- 607,000 total viewers

  • 20. The Situation Room

    CNN -- 611,000 total viewers

  • 19. CNN Newsroom

    CNN -- 657,000 total viewers

  • 18. Piers Morgan Live

    CNN -- 681,000 total viewers

  • 17. Anderson Cooper 360 (10 p.m.)

    CNN -- 681,000 total viewers

  • 16. Anderson Cooper 360 (8 p.m.)

    CNN -- 693,000 total viewers

  • 15. The Lead

    CNN -- 701,000 total viewers

  • 14. The Rachel Maddow Show

    MSNBC -- 781,000 total viewers

  • 13. Happening Now

    Fox News -- 1.005 million total viewers

  • 12. Fox & Friends

    Fox News -- 1.062 million total viewers

  • 11. O'Reilly Factor (11PM)

    Fox News -- 1.132 million total viewers

  • 10. America Live

    Fox News -- 1.133 million total viewers

  • 9. Studio B

    Fox News -- 1.166 million total viewers

  • 8. America's Newsroom

    Fox News -- 1.189 million total viewers

  • 7. Your World with Neil Cavuto

    Fox News -- 1.376 million total viewers

  • 6. On the Record with Greta van Susteren

    Fox News -- 1.424 million total viewers

  • 5. Fox Report with Shepard Smith

    Fox News -- 1.485 million total viewers

  • 4. Special Report with Bret Baier

    Fox News -- 1.767 million total viewers

  • 3. Hannity

    Fox News -- 1.769 million total viewers

  • 2. The Five

    Fox News -- 1.888 million total viewers

  • 1. The O'Reilly Factor

    Fox News -- 2.624 million total viewers