MSNBC appear to be trying their hand at comedy, and the results are not pretty. On Wednesday, MTP Daily aired a satirical commercial for a fake drug called Oblivia, which purported to give users “relief from the nonstop pressure” of the high-speed news cycle.
Host Chuck Todd prefaced the commercial with a nod to a recent Pew survey which found that the majority of Americans – both Democrats and Republicans, though more so on the Republican side – feel fatigued by the constant barrage of daily news. “Can you blame them? If only there was something that could help,” Todd intoned theatrically, and a hokey dream sequence transition signaled the start of the bit.
The skit’s format followed that of a standard pharmaceutical advertisement. Todd bemoaned the “total and utter news fatigue” Americans were suffering as a result of the “endless barrage of news, rapid-fire sound bites, and high-intensity tweet storms.”
The commercial pitched Oblivia as a wonder-drug that evidently produced the same effect that one could have otherwise achieve by turning off the television. “Feel like your old self again – before the news took over everything,” Todd pitched cheerfully, amid a trill of upbeat background music.
Although the drug’s name could be interpreted as jab against people who abstained from watching the news, the individuals behind the bit seemed to be conceding that the news was making people depressed. This was certainly true in the case of the supposed “side-effects” listed by Todd, which included “unusual good taste,” “loss of dysfunction,” “involuntary smiling,” and “chronic mirth.”
In short, the central theme of the skit seemed to be, “[w]atching the news will make you miserable.” Perhaps not the most objectionable claim, but it was certainly an odd one for the a member of the news media to be making. “Don’t let breaking news break you. Break out of the news cycle with Oblivia,” Todd chirped as the commercial finished.
Perhaps MSNBC deserve some credit for trying to keep things light-hearted. Let’s just hope they don’t try to transition into comedy full time.