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TCA: MSNBC's Griffin: 'Morning Joe' Team Not Going to CBS Anytime Soon

Complete Coverage: 2011 TCA Summer Press Tour

When CBS News recently hired Morning Joe executive producer Chris Licht away from MSNBC as vice president of programming, it ramped up industry scuttlebutt that CBS would eventually make a run at the MSNBC morning team to pump some much-needed life into its own morning show -- and even perhaps try to get them out of their contracts sooner than later.

But in an interview with B&C on Tuesday in Beverly Hills, MSNBC president Phil Griffin said he thinks his team of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski is staying put.

"I'm not worried," he said. "They belong here. They are under contract, they have not indicated to me they are going anywhere or want to get out if it. Morning Joe is on fire now. I talk to them every day, they are as happy as I've seen them."

While the on-air duo has told the New York Times they were sure they would work with Licht again one day, Griffin suggested that CBS may not be the right fit for what they offer.

"They know you want to be in a place that attracts a kind of audience, I'm not sure they could get that audience over there," he says.

Griffin and an MSNBC spokesperson both declined to comment on how long the network has Scarborough and Brzezinski under contract, but it is still believed to be for at least two more years.

"They are going to be here for awhile," Griffin acknowledged.

However, Griffin did not dismiss the notion that Scarborough could make a move when his deal is up.

"Regardless, when his contract comes up, maybe he goes over there," he said.  "We want them here.  Everything I know they are happy where they are."


Griffin also said that the plan is for Rachel Maddow to host the network's election coverage on big nights leading up to and including next year's election.  She will play traffic cop to MSNBC's other primetime talent including Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell and Ed Schultz.

"Rachel sits in the chair, but it will be the ensemble together," Griffin said. "That's how I envision it."

In the past election cycle, it was often Matthew and the departed Keith Olbermann hosting coverage.

"It was, and we've grown," he said.  "We didn't have so many people. We don't even need any guests we have so many people."

Griffin also confirmed that Mark Halperin will return to the network this week, as first reported Tuesday by B&C's John Eggerton.  He was suspended for one month when he called President Obama "kind of a dick" live on the air.

"He has handled himself perfectly during this from the moment after the suspension," Griffin said.

Griffin did say that there were some takeaways for the entire network from the ordeal.

"It's a warning to everybody to keep your head about you as you do these things," he said. "I want people to be real, but they have to stay within the lines. That's the only thing we impose.  He's a great journalist.  He understood, he made a big mistake. And now he'll be back on live TV this week.  It's over."