MSNBC is throwing pretense to the winds and finally coming out as a liberal alternative to Fox:
MSNBC, once the also-ran but now the No. 2 cable news channel, has a new tagline that embraces its progressive political identity.
The tagline, "Lean Forward," will be publicly announced Tuesday, opening a planned two-year advertising campaign intended to raise awareness of the channel among viewers, advertisers and distributors.
The tagline "defines us and defines our competition," said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, his implication being that the Fox News Channel, which is No. 1 in cable news and a home for conservatives, is leaning backward. Fox's best-known tagline is "Fair and Balanced."
Some of the new MSNBC ads include shots of President Obama on his election night; others, directed by the filmmaker Spike Lee, showcase hosts like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow preparing for their nightly programs; and still others feature quotes like "the future belongs to the fearless."
The multimillion-dollar campaign is a long time coming for the 14-year-old MSNBC, and particularly for Mr. Griffin, who has complained for years about not having more money to market the channel. With "Lean Forward," MSNBC is following other cable channels that have found success by building easy-to-identify brands - like Bravo, TBS, HBO or, Mr. Griffin freely acknowledges, Fox News.
"When you're clear about who you are, you actually make money," said Sharon Otterman, the chief marketing officer for MSNBC, who started work there one year ago.
In interviews, Griffin has been making no bones about the strong liberal bias of his network. But actually marketing itself as a left wing network will probably bring even more success.
Does this mean that Obama will now single out MSNBC too as a network with a "point of view" rather than a media outlet that is "objective?" If he rails against Fox, Obama must now also criticize MSNBC, right?
Don't hold your breath.