What? They didn't realize they were left-leaning these past few years? Well, not exactly. But now it looks like the network is finally comfortable enough with its positioning to put a stake in the ground as being the antidote to Fox News in a more forthright way than it has up until now. (The cautionary tale of centrist CNN's sagging ratings probably helped.) This has played out in two ways during the past week:
First, the network has replaced its noncommittal -- and, frankly, inaccurate -- "The Place for Politics" slogan with the new tagline "Lean Forward." That theme brushes up against the point, but the ad on the (whoops!) right, which says "Some Things Are Best Left Said," gets right (whoops again!) to it: we are the "news" channel for liberals.
Actually, I find the second part of MSNBC's coming out more interesting. Though it hasn't happened yet -- but, trust me, it will -- the network is thinking of changing the name of MSNBC.com because it's a straight news site that doesn't fit in with the MSNBC brand -- or, with NBC News, the sibling down-the-middle news brand that is the force behind most of the site's content. Per The New York Times, it's possible MSNBC.com would be renamed NBCNews.com and the new MSNBC.com would become a playground for the cable net's stars, like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. It should be noted that this need for a Web site switch-er-oo is a problem Fox News has never had because it doesn't have a decades-old, legacy news brand to protect.
It will be interesting to see if this public acknowledgment of its long-time positioning will have any effect on MSNBC's ratings. My guess is not, as this seems like a case where the network brass is the last one in on the secret -- the rest of us have already positioned the network ourselves. On the other hand, if CNN's new slate -- like the so-far ratings challenged Parker/Spitzer -- doesn't make the grade, well, we'll see.
- With Jonathan Klein Dismissal, CNN Finally Pushes the Panic Button
- CNN's Secret Formula: Boring + Non-Partisan + Low Ratings = $$$$
- Larry King's Retiring from CNN, And Being Replaced With-- Some Warm Body
- CNN's Eliot Spitzer Show Aims for the Middle, Where No Viewers Are
- CNN: "We're No. 1!" -- Kinda