The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

Brace for im­pact. A new MSNBC pro­mo­tional cam­paign is now un­der way, and it has been fo­ment­ing since last fall. The brusque outreach ex­pands on the net­work’s neu­tral sound­ing “Lean For­ward” motto, push­ing phrases such as “enough with the ar­gu­ments, it’s time to ad­vance the is­sues.” That in mind, Hol­ly­wood di­rec­tor Spike Lee coaxed a se­ries of “un­scripted” video spots from hosts Chris Matthews, Rachel Mad­dow, Lawrence O’Don­nell and Ed Schultz, to air in the nation’s the­aters, on as­sorted NBC and MSNBC me­dia plat­forms, and in ma­jor print and dig­i­tal ads.

But it is lib­eral and pro­gres­sive think­ing that gets the big boost, though MSNBC wraps the pitches with no­ble-minded polling data that sug­gests Amer­i­cans are “op­ti­mistic” about their nation. There is also a sense that the net­work is in­tent on re­viv­ing some of the old “hope and change” mind­set of yore. Ms. Mad­dow holds forth on “Amer­ica’s great­ness.” Mr. Matthews in­sists Repub­li­cans don’t think Pres­i­dent Obama is “as Amer­i­can” as they are, while Mr. Schultz con­tends that health­care re­form is not lib­eral enough.

“These ads are un­like any­thing else. They are mini-doc­u­men­taries that ex­press the pas­sion of our prime­time hosts. You’re able to truly learn what drives them,” ex­plains MSNBC Pres­i­dent Phil Grif­fin.

“Un­til now, MSNBC’s ‘Lean For­ward’ ad cam­paign had largely avoided wear­ing the net­work’s left­ward slant as a badge of pride,” coun­ters Ken Shep­herd, man­ag­ing edi­tor of Newsbusters.org. “Sure, there were hints here and there that ‘Lean For­ward’ re­ally means ‘left-lean­ing,’ but the older ads were sub­tle com­pared to the lat­est batch which beat you over the head

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