Friday, November 05, 2010

Olbermann is out

As you've no doubt heard by now, MSNBC has suspended Keith Olbermann "indefinitely and without pay" when it was discovered that he donated money to three political candidates in the recently-concluded election.

Supposedly, this was in violation of NBC corporate policy, i.e. journalism-division employees are supposed to ask permission about donations and maintain a sense of impartiality. But then it get's tricky...

According to some, MSNBC's openly-partisan editorial-commentators (Olbermann, Matthews, Maddow, etc) have been "exempt" from that rule for some time. So... what's going on here?

The shortest and simplest explanation is likely to be that MSNBC wants to get rid of Olbermann, and this was the opportunity his bosses decided to take to do so. Also, if the rest of the staff gets "on message" about it it's a potentially GREAT "big move" to differentiate themselves from Fox: "When our guys screw around, they're GONE - so why are you still employing Beck, again?"

The broader story at MSNBC is that the network is having a difficult time getting everyone on the same page as they transition from "flashier version of CNN" to their new identity as "Left-Wing version of Fox" - not all of their employees are going to be as comfortable as others in being seen as "commentators" rather than "journalists." Did you see how angrily/humorlessly they reacted to the "false equivalency" of Olbie's rants mixed in with Beck's at the Daily Show rally?

Ironically, Olbermann is pretty-much the guy who "engineered" his network's transformation; but it hasn't done anything to change his reputation in the business - his ego and short temper are the stuff of legends. One senses that this writing has been on the wall ever since Rachel Maddow guest hosted his show for a month or so, did a better job of it and got her own show right afterwards. You only need to see the two "acts" side by side to see the problem: Maddow is easily the most "partisan" person on the network, but she runs the LEAST blowhardy show (with the added bonus of being one of the best interviewers on Cable, period.) It also doesn't help that "other new guy" Lawrence O'Donnell does the "mournful sanctimony" bit better, too.

It'd be too early to "put money on it," but this seems like it might be the end for Keith, at least as an MSNBC contributor. If so, I can't say I'm broken-up about it: His show had become both obnoxious and redundant... though it'll be a REAL loss if Maddow or others "follow him out" in protest.


Ezenwa said...

I'm sorry. I can't take people who make the transition from something that has nothing to do with politics move on to politics and government, via liberal media outlets like this. Keith Olbermann was a glorified sports commentator from ESPN. Can you really be shocked? Didn't he do commercials for food or something? Yea, I'm listening to this guy.

Anonymous said...

Maddow won't walk out. The number of minorities who have their own cable news show is so small I could count them all on one hand and still have fingers left over. Rachel's partner would give her a black eye if she fucked this opportunity up. Oh shit Rachel just opened up her show about Keith's suspension, I R intrigued.

Arman said...

Republicans take back the house AND Olbermann loses his job?

Is it an early Christmas for us Conservatives or what. ;)

Anonymous said...

Rachel defends Keith with a nuanced argument, pretty classy of her.

Anonymous said...

It's about MSNBC getting out of their multi-million dollar contract with Keef.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Matt said...

You know, under normal circumstances, I'd be glad to see him gone, he was a loud mouth hate monger whose slowly got worse and worse as time went on.

But no, just cause he donated money is NOT justification for it.

Him being a left wing mouthpiece masqurading as a journalist could have been, but MSNBC would just as well calling itself MSDNC, so it's expected.

But he's no worse then fox for this, fox is just as bad about this thing as anyone, they are a money making machine for the republicans for crying out loud.

Why is suddenly a shock that olby was for dems?

let the man work, I may not like him, I may think he's a crazy jerk, but he doesn't deserve to be fired for this, just as Juan williams didn't from NPR.

blockmangamer said...

The problem with Keith and the MSNBC crew in general (exception to Dylan Ratigan) is they're acting like the indirect arm of Fox News and that's scary.

On any given day, Fox News/Tea Party/Sarah Palin gets the big bright spotlight in their pundit block. Six hours of Beck, Hannity, Palin, Newt, O'Reilly, and Rush?! It's like they're addicted to elephant nutsacks and feces. Showcasing one more reason why the mainstream media continues failing. All sensation and no substance.

Matt said...


Question, how do you see Msnbc as an indirect arm of fox?

They have completely different viewpoints, openly hate each other, and often campaign against one another on a regular basis?

I just, not sure If you were speaking correctly on that statement.

blockmangamer said...


When more and more of you're narrative centers around counter-reacting another "news" organization and their pundits, you're not delivering your news. You're delivering their "news".

For every Fox "story" Keith and the crew try to debunk is another story of higher economic, social or political importance is placed on the back burner.

Or to simply put it, Fox is the ringmaster setting the agenda and controlling the narrative while MSNBC is the whipped lion jumping through their flamin' hoops in their 3-ring circus.

For example, Fox's 200 million dollar lie and the Oakland Cop verdict. Within 24 hour cycles of each event, MSNBC has paid attention to Fox's latest brain fart yet when a cop gets 2 years for murdering an unarmed minority signify how corrupt and broken the system is, they've got zilch.

Adam said...

Nobody who even uses the word Journalist on camera in national media should be allowed to contribute to political endevors. If you allow this you're essentially begging for more Hearst-esque wars with Cuba. I'm sorry but as scary as a fake war was with Cuba in 1901 that most Americans believed is, I think the possibility of a good story sparking another very real war even scarier. Fox will never acknowledge MSNBC or CNN's efforts to be fair. They'll just say 'oh we have higher ratings' and forget that CNN's website gets roughly 2 times that of the Fox website and Fox news combined.

This country is so messed up that a super majority of a single party was unable to get any legislation passed of any meaning and Fox reported it like it was the end of the world. We've literally gotten to the point where people consider their personal opinion on a matter more important than experts. Liberal and Conservative bias aside, that's the big difference between Beck and Olbermann.

Fox has been ranting about 'Liberal Elitists' for so long the public has finally just accepted it with no question. They keep people passionate to distract them from the fact that, yes, you WANT someone who's studied the economy and medicinal practices to decide whats going to happen with YOUR healt care in this country. We NEED to listen to economists telling us what can and can not be done during what is essentially a second great depression.

Olbermann, for all his extremism, at least understood that. I'm sad to see him go for this obvious conflict of interest while Glen Beck continues to shout at multiple Harvard educated business lawyers with years of government service for not doing what he, a radio shock jock in a suit, believes to be right from his hours of research in a library.

Anonymous said...

If they fire Olbermann, will Fox just call it anti-free speech and offer him a job and media oral-sex like they did with Sanchez and Williams? As unlikely as that sounds, it'd be cool to see, and would further push the image that Fox is that kid in your class who argues the first to the teacher when they send out a kid for yelling obscenities.

Elessar said...

Monday will be...interesting.

Stewart will be funny about this, Colbert will try to pretend to be elated, etc.

What will really be interesting is how Glenn, Hannity and O'reilly respond. The auto response, if this was a conservative, would be to scream about how LIBERALS are violating First Amendment, regardless of facts or context, especially since MSNBC is going liberal and therefore Fox has declared war.

But this is a liberal, being fired for giving money to liberals, so they're automatic response would be to defend them for getting rid of the liberal. These are two entirely at odds rants.

Glenn's head might explode. I must make more in depth commentary.

Matt said...


Ah, I gotcha.

Well said.

Popcorn Dave said...

Great post, Adam. I agree completely. These days no-one wants to admit that someone else might know better than they do. We're basically told politics is about just shouting out your half-arsed gut feeling, usually based on your ignorant prejudice about one group or another, and the person who shouts loudest wins. Fox is the worst (thanks to their loathsome hosts), but they're all at it. "Tell us YOUR thoughts" etc. And whenever they get a politician on TV they just viciously attack him/her the whole time, so now politicians pretty much refuse to discuss policy on the news and just use it for damage control instead. Then people hate the politicians even more for dodging questions, TV viewers are even LESS informed about what politics is about, and the cycle repeats.