In an August 29 New York Times review of three books attacking President George W. Bush, Slate.com editor Jacob Weisberg made the claim that Phil Donahue's talk show “was axed after a few months by MSNBC not because it prefers Republicans but because his ratings were too weak to make the show profitable.” He offered no support for this assertion, and the evidence suggests otherwise.
In a February 25, 2003, article, AllYourTV.com co-founder Rick Ellis noted at the time of its cancellation on February 24, 2003, Donahue's program was “the top-rated show on MSNBC, beating even the highly promoted Hardball with Chris Matthews." Ellis also reported obtaining an internal NBC study, “shared with me by an NBC news insider,” that described Donahue as “a tired, left-wing liberal out of touch with the current marketplace.” According to Ellis:
The study went on to claim that Donahue presented a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war. ... He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives.” The report went on to outline a possible nightmare scenario where the show becomes “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”