NEW YORK – According to a leaked memo written by MSNBC President Phil Griffin, the cable news channel has decided to pursue a “less narrowly journalistic” approach to the news, a strategy executives hope will “improve [their] market share” as well as make their jobs “frankly a whole lot easier.” The channel plans to enter a “transitional phase” beginning Friday—when actor Alec Baldwin’s new show, “Up Late with Alec Baldwin,” premieres—that will eventually lead to a “rebirth,” as Griffin calls it.
“The world is a complicated place,” wrote Griffin, who has headed the channel since 2008 and has presided over its partisan rebranding. “Words like ‘facts’ and ‘truth’ have less meaning than they did ten or twenty years ago, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to live up to even the most lax journalistic standards.”
“With that in mind,” Griffin continued, “we’ve decided to simply give up.”
In the memo, Griffin explains to his employees that their jobs will no longer require them to probe current events or investigate issues of pressing importance—rather, they should now devote themselves to “finding ways to make viewers laugh, cry, and maybe pee in their pants a little.” “We need to stop thinking of ourselves as a journalistic organization,” Griffin advised. “I think Alec’s addition to our team will help us all remember that.”
“Up Late with Alec Baldwin” is modeled after the actor’s WNYC podcast, “Here’s the Thing,” and will be centered around interviews. Griffin hopes that Baldwin—who once played Mr. Conductor in “Thomas and the Magic Railroad”—can help MSNBC gain a competitive advantage over rival Fox News, to which it perennially falls second. “I believe that Alec’s abundant charm will get his interview guests to reveal things they normally wouldn’t,” Griffin said. “Will John McCain finally admit he enjoys bubble baths and fluffy slippers? We’ll just have to watch and see.”
Eventually, executives plan to transform MSNBC into a network entirely devoted to entertainment, rather than the news. “I don’t want to get too ahead of myself,” Griffin wrote, “but by 2015 we hope to be exclusively producing what I like to call ‘Newscoms’: vaguely news-related sitcoms, hopefully featuring Tina Fey and Steve Carell, as well as Alec.”
“Let’s be honest,” Griffin admitted. “Doing the news is hard, and boring. But take it from a guy who worked for The Today Show: producing fluff is quite easy, and gets you fantastic ratings along the way.”