MSNBC, which spent years crafting an image as a left-leaning alternative to Fox News and at one time labeled itself as the “Lean Forward” network, has found new life after a major programming shake-up. They are now poised to launch an ad stating that maybe they have gone too far to the right.
The ad features some of MSNBC’s more prominent conservative and Republican contributors—like former Bush communications chief Nicole Wallace, conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt, longtime GOP strategist Steve Schmidt and former RNC chairman Michael Steele—stating that “People might start accusing us of leaning too far to the right.”
MSNBC president Phil Griffin told Politico’s Hadas Gold that the rebranding is just one more step in the network’s “evolution,” as it prepares to turn 20 next month:
“There have been so many evolutions, and look, if you don’t evolve, in any medium, you’re going to lose. So I think we’ve been in a process of evolution and I feel very good about what we’re doing.”
Except that the “evolution” that Griffin is speaking about is the result of changes made by NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack, who was hired 16 months ago to fix the problems at the network.
Lack jettisoned the low-rated daytime programs and moved the network away from the liberal “Lean Forward” campaign, which Griffin was sure would topple Fox News.
The result has been a ratings revival. But just like at the other cable news networks it has been largely driven by coverage of Donald Trump, who has defied political odds to become the apparent GOP nominee for president.
As for the ad and leaning right, the problem is that the majority of those featured in the new ad aren’t very conservative, and as a result have been poor spokesmen for the movement. But that’s probably why MSNBC hired them in the first place.