Monday, November 08, 2010

Olbermann Suspension - Publicity Stunt or Ethics?

It's been fascinating to watch the unfolding of the media buzz over one of their own being dismissed from MSNBC. Show host Keith Olbermann was suspended without pay for violating the network's stated policy that show hosts - no way am I describing Olbermann as a 'journalist' - cannot contribute money to political campaigns. They say it is an ethical violation. They say it keeps the integrity of the network in tact.

Well, if that is why Olbermann was let go, then so be it. But if this is a part of the company policy for pursuing ethics in broadcasting, then MSNBC lost that battle a long time ago. No one with an ounce of intelligence believes that the cable network is anything but a mouthpiece for the DNC. The show hosts are all liberals with spouting and promoting the Democratic agenda through well coordinated talking points being task number one. What about Chris Matthews, former Democratic staffer and speechwriter who mulled over a run for Senate this past election cycle for a good six months or so with much fanfare? Did that tip his hand as to which team he cheers for?

Olbermann's ratings were sagging, as are all of the MSNBC's line up. Only the hard core devout watch the evening programming and they know exactly what they are getting. Olbermann is well compensated to put on his nasty, over the top shows - reported to be $7 million per year. For that American airwaves are poisoned with vitriol and segments like 'the worst person in the world'.

Some think Olbermann was suspended because he refused to apologize for his violation.

From Politico:

Network sources tell Playbook that Keith Olbermann was suspended because he refused to deliver an on-camera mea culpa, which would have allowed him to continue anchoring “Countdown.” Olbermann told his bosses he didn't know he was barred from making campaign contributions, although he is resisting saying that publicly. Olbermann may not hold as many cards as he thinks. He makes $7 million a year and MSNBC's prime time is not as dependent on him as it was before the addition of Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell, who make considerably less.

Some think it is all a publicity stunt.

Then, there’s the fact that this publicity supernova comes on the heels of the network’s expensive “Lean Forward” re-branding effort, which, for all the fun that’s been had at its expense, has earned the notice of MCNBC’s two chief competitors.

What really makes you go “hmmm,” though, is the fact that, just days before Olbermann’s indefinite suspension, the Countdown host announced the “indefinite suspension” of the “Worst Persons in the World” segment, in an explicit bid to draw just the contrast that his own suspension has. We’re through the looking glass here, people

The irony is that the hacks at MSNBC enjoy perpetrating the myth that they are employees of a politically unbiased network. They enjoy nothing more than verbally abusing FOX and its cable hosts. It is the same old liberal double standard in play. "Lean Forward" only if it leans left.

Adding to the interest in this story - the Conservatives coming out in support of Olbermann. This points that like the Juan Williams and NPR brouhaha recently, this action is bringing together conservatives and liberals alike: The notion that the Olbermann suspension is ridiculous has united both liberals and conservatives. Maddow said on Friday night that she, Olbermann, and some others on MSNBC are liberals and identify themselves as such; she called for her network to restore Olbermann to his show immediately. On The Weekly Standard website, conservative William Kristol says, “MSNBC’s suspension of Keith Olbermann is ludicrous. First, he donated money to candidates he liked. He didn’t take money, or favors, in a way that influenced his reporting. Second, he’s not a reporter. It’s an opinion show. If Olbermann wants to put his money where his mouth is, more power to him.”

Whether intentional or not - and I think it is - the publicity may bring about increased viewership to the flailing cable network.


Thom said...

The fact is we don’t really care, we just love watching the car accident. Who in the world cares so much for any of these people?
They do their thing, the world keeps turning, and nobody gives a damn in 24 hours. Shit , a million people die in a flood somewhere and it’s a story for a few days. Do really believe that in the progress of time, that anyone will care. If you do, you are , well, an idiot.
Or are you someone who believes they have a personal relationship with these people? Really?
Chapman thought the same way and we know where that leads.

srp said...

I never go to that network anyway... just cruise on by in less than 5 seconds. The ratings are low and fortunately, I had the chance to be a Nielsen rating home last spring. They have you count any network you stay on for at least 30 second... so now we know.
They also ask for opinions of stations and so I told them how worthless MSNBC was and that it was a waste of airtime for any advertisers. Probably meant nothing, but that is OK... made me feel better.