October 1, 2013

MSNBC has debuted a new ad. It starts with top network blowhard and host Ed Schultz saying these words directly into the camera:

Responding to criticism, MSNBC has turned to a man who can restore balance to an unbalanced network. A man who will address the great issues of our time while keeping his emotions in check. Above all, a man who values reason over passion and who provides a soothing voice for these troubled times.

At which point, Alec Baldwin jumps into the frame, saying, “That’s right. It’s me.” The spot is a promo for Baldwin’s upcoming show, “Up Late with Alec Baldwin,” which premieres on Friday, Oct. 11 at 10 p.m.

The ad’s self-parody surfaces a sense of humor absent from the quite-often-earnest world of MSNBC thinkers and cable news in general. It also continues a hot streak for MSNBC advertisements. Think back to that “Lean Forward” spot featuring MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry blasting our country’s “private notion of children” and urging a more community-oriented approach to our youth. Conservatives gave the ad a tremendous ride, republishing it on all sorts of platforms, complete with full-throated denunciations about the socialism that it allegedly — but not actually — advocated. In other words, a towering victory for the lefty cable-news network.

MSNBC triggered a bit more conservative reaction with a clever ad (below) in which network talent present handwritten descriptions of their progressive dreams on mini-whiteboards. Pegged to the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech,” the ad worked because it showcased several loudmouths of cable news — Chris Matthews, Touré, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and beyond — in the act of not talking.

Now, if only MSNBC could fill the spaces between ads with equally compelling stuff.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.