Friday, November 05, 2010

The Olbermann suspension 

AP reports on the decision by MSNBC to suspend Keith Olbermann:
MSNBC has suspended prime-time host Keith Olbermann indefinitely without pay for contributing to the campaigns of three Democratic candidates this election season.

Olbermann acknowledged to NBC that he donated $2,400 apiece to the campaigns of Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway and Arizona Reps. Raul Grivalva and Gabrielle Giffords.

NBC News prohibits its employees from working on, or donating to, political campaigns unless a special exception is granted by the news division president — effectively a ban. Olbermann's bosses did not find out about the donations until after they were made. The website Politico first reported the donations.

"I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night," Phil Griffin, MSNBC's chief executive, said Friday. "Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay."
I'm not among his viewers, so I don't really have skin in the game, but it seems to me that suspending Olbermann for not disclosing political contributions to Democrats is a little like suspending a WWE referee for not disclosing that the pro wrestling matches have pre-arranged choreography and outcomes -- I mean, duh. You're not watching Keith Olbermann to get objective reporting, you're watching him (or not) to see him express a particular progressive viewpoint in his own unique fashion. He has a certain niche, and occupies it in a way that has turned out to be a good living for the man, for a period of time. Of course he's going to contribute money to Democratic candidates.

Whatever fig leaf of disclosure that MSNBC wants to put on its network anchors is essentially worthless -- the marginal value of that information is zero.

UPDATE: Bill Kristol agrees and amplifies.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Nov 05, 04:40:00 PM:

Wait, I'm confused. Could it really be possible MSNBC didn't realize Olberhead is a radical lefty activist? Are the managers really that stupid? This must be just a graceful way of giving him a few post-election days off to get the Xanax dosage retuned.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Nov 05, 04:51:00 PM:

I like Keith Olberman and hope they let him come back quickly. Hang in there Keith.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Nov 05, 04:57:00 PM:

Even Keith doesn't like Keith. His own mother was quoted saying disparaging things about him. You actually like him? Don't get me wrong; the suspension is silly, but he's still detestable.


By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Fri Nov 05, 05:38:00 PM:

Looks like they were looking for an excuse to can him. This is so much "cleaner" than claiming he was fiddling his expense account.

Comcast is acquiring NBC Universal from GE. Olbermann is no longer a "strategic" asset for GE.  

By Blogger Stephen, at Fri Nov 05, 06:47:00 PM:

If Olbermann violated the terms of his contract, then NBC may avoid having to buy out his contract. They are probably looking at the bottom line and hoping to attract a larger audience with a new 'personality.'  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Fri Nov 05, 06:57:00 PM:

Agreed. Olbermann never pretended to be "objective." He was quite openly a partisan shill. So what if he puts his money where his mouth is?
As others have pointed out, this is most likely an excuse for management to can him.
It's all about money, saving corporate money. As I detested Olbermann's rants, I find it hard to work up much sympathy for him.Live by the sword, die by the sword.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Nov 05, 08:12:00 PM:

I agree that this is probably a contrived excuse, but I'm glad to see the repulsive hypocrite go, for whatever reason. That asshole has added nothing but childish sarcasm, cruel criticisms, and idiotic partisan rage to the public discourse since he crawled from whatever sports-news swamp in which he was discovered.

"Republicans of the world, show you believe in the free expression of opinion!"

This is ridiculous. If he violated the terms of his contract, they have every right to throw his ass out and it has jack-shit to do with free expression. And I can't remember him ever respecting other people's opinions. On the contrary, mocking them was the core of his little show.

Good riddance.

"Live by the sword, die by the sword."

And amen to this.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Nov 05, 08:43:00 PM:

I do NOT even have $2,400 to donate to myself, let alone, 4 other people in the universe.
He is getting paid WHY to much for what ever he doesn't do.
Another obscenely rich BBFN, just giving his money away, and not saving the poor and disenfranchised of this country or palestine.

By Anonymous mr. Ed, at Fri Nov 05, 08:47:00 PM:

He'll be back. This is just a distraction from the ridicule they received for their inept team on election night. They needed to change the subject.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Nov 05, 08:48:00 PM:

It should have been the word WAY, not WHY. Can not sprll worth a krap.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Nov 05, 08:49:00 PM:

Can not proofread worth a crap either.

By Blogger Escort81, at Fri Nov 05, 09:29:00 PM:

Dawnfire82 - I think you nailed it, Bill Kristol has his tongue firmly planted in cheek with that last line. I think Olbermann's tone is a net subtraction from civil discourse, and there are others who can more constructively represent his slice of the political spectrum.

If the network is looking to can him, the bosses should just say that (Casino, the cornfield scene - "The word was out. The bosses had enough of Nicky. They had enough. How much were they going to take?"), but the pretext of political contributions is pretty lame.

It will be mildly interesting to see if Olbermann comes back to MSNBC.  

By Anonymous Steve Skubinna, at Fri Nov 05, 09:59:00 PM:

No, they got rid of Olbermann because of the opportunity to hire an even bigger draw, a man with much more on the ball and three times the charisma, one who thinks outside the box and won't be so drearily predictable:

Ladies and gentlement, let's give it up for Countdown's new host, Alvin Greene!  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Fri Nov 05, 10:31:00 PM:

First, bear in mind that MSNBC is trying to maintain the fiction that they are an objective news source, and don't want any hard evidence lying around that they aren't.

Second, there are some viewers who believe that Olbermann is an objective source, just opinionated, and more who believe he is only somewhat to the left, providing one POV in a setting that is balanced overall. Yes, that is like believing that White Sulphur Springs is in the center of the country, but people believe it nonetheless.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sat Nov 06, 05:28:00 AM:

"First, bear in mind that MSNBC is trying to maintain the fiction that they are an objective news source"

Yes. My guess is that MSNBC had some completely different "inside baseball" reason for canning Olbermann and decided to go for a twofer, trying to make it look like they are an impartial source of news bwahahaha. As for Olbermann, I detested him even before I knew anything about his politics. When he was a sportscaster he was obviously an arrogant, egotistical jackass and I couldn't understand why he was so popular because he didn't have any great insight into sports either. I hope he ends up as a shoeshine boy.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Sat Nov 06, 08:01:00 AM:

"MSNBC had some completely different "inside baseball" reason for canning Olbermann"

MSNBC will have have a new owner by year-end ... Comcast. Expect a lot of shake-ups in all arms of NBC News because of this. Without Bush to bash, Olbermann is a money loser. Last week's election made it clear that his ratings would only continue to decline.

My paranoid side says that GE has been carrying Olbermann in order to suck up to Obama -- this isn't crazy as it's been reported that Immelt told his NBC news heads to support Obama. Immelt had a private dinner with all of them way back. Immelt wants to sell a lot of windmills.

Chris Matthews is either in denial or too stupid to understand this. Rachel Maddow gets it, which is why she's gotten so nervous / strident in tone lately.

The suits at MSNBC figured it was better to fire Olbermann for cause rather than over his politics/ratings. Violating a waive-able corporate policy is a better basis to do this than claiming that he fiddled his expenses or that he diddled a summer intern.

If Olbermann's ratings were good, he could get caught with a porn star hooker trashing a hotel room ... with blow all over his face ... while his kids were sleeping in the next room ... and the suits wouldn't care.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Sat Nov 06, 08:12:00 AM:

Clarification: Olbermann wasn't fired. He was suspended indefinitely without pay ... better still.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sat Nov 06, 10:19:00 AM:

Olbermann gone...Good Lord! What are Americans going to do with all the empty time??????  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Nov 06, 11:58:00 AM:

I understand that the concept of "journalism" is a sham, but I am amazed that some of those making the big bucks from this sham don't protest the use of the word "journalist" in connection with Olby, just as a matter of show.
And, yes, I do watch MSNBC on occasion just to see what the new JournoList has ordered it's "journalists" to say.  

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