Keith Olberman Suspended Indefinitly by NBC

Discussion in 'Politics' started by countezero, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. countezero Registered Senior Member

    Olbermann removed from air

    I hate Olbermann, think he's a loudmouth turd. But I have to say this is pretty ridiculous.

    I understand having an ethics policy for journalists (I even worked within one), but surely pretending like Olbermann should be held to the same standards as the ostensibly "objective" journalists is foolish. The man, after all, was paid by MSNBC to voice partisan opinions. And nobody with half a brain is surprised by these donations. A strange story...
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    I'd think that he should retain a lawyer to sue them for doing that to him. It would seem to me that would be against the law to prevent anyone from donating to whomever they want. I'm certain he will do so and if not he might just be suspended for a short time but able to return soon so he won't cause a problem if he wants his job back. :shrug:
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
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  5. Buffalo Roam Registered Senior Member


    Yep, KO is KO'ed got to big for His own britches, and forgot who paid His salary.

    "While NBC News policy does not prohibit employees from donating to political candidates, it requires them to obtain prior approval from NBC News" executives before doing so.
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  7. countezero Registered Senior Member

    There is no "law," but there are ethics policies at just about every journalism organ. You have to sign these when you come on board and you are briefed extensively about them. So it's a contractural obligation, you break it and you can be fired.

    But as I have already written, applying this to Olbermann borders on ridiculous. I was shocked when I read the story. I never worked with news analysts, but I can't imagine why they have to sign the same kind of documents. Essentially, donations are an opinion, and opinions is what they are paid for...
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

  9. nirakar ( i ^ i ) Registered Senior Member

    Fox knows what it is and what it wants to be. MSNBC is still confused about what it is and what it wants to be. MSNBC has tried being a second CNN and that failed. MSNBC tried being Fox lite and that failed. MSNBC's swing to the left has been more successful as there was no competition for news shows being blatantly on the left the way Fox is blatantly right.

    I don't see how lefties can be comfortable being led by General Electric. Like it or not the media and the campaign funders are America's political leadership. The political parties, and politicians and for the most part the people are followers not leaders. Fox, other conservative media and some big political spenders turned the Tea Party from nothing into everybody's favorite meaningless political phrase. The ties between the Tea Party and the conservative wing of the Repunlicrat corporate welfare industrial base means the Tea Party can never be an effective force for real change.

    Likewise the ties between MSNBC and GE means that should MSNBC every spawn a left version of the Tea Party that resulting movement would also never be capable of being an effective force for real change.

    Something About Olbermann always irritated me. I think the left could do better than to have GE appointed Olbermann as their leader. Since beggars can't be choosers I guess the left will have to accept whoever GE appoints as their leaders and the right will have to accept whoever Murdoch, Clear Channel and the Koch brothers appoint as their leaders.
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Of course: that is long recognized by the actual left, which regards Olbermann et al as more or less centrist, and MSNBC as a mainstream, right/center news source overall.
    The assumption of symmetry there is without basis in reality.

    As we were just reminded, GE did not exactly appoint Olbermann, and has never been happy with him. To describe the scene as some sort of symmetrical arrangement with somebody like Olbermann equivalent to somebody like - who did you have in mind? Glenn Beck? - is to delude oneself.

    The "two sides" involved are not left and right. They are reality based and propaganda based - fact based and bullshit based.
  11. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

    it buerocracy in action
  12. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    The ridiculous part is that FOX News lacks similar ethics regulations. I'd very much like to live in a society where news media impartiality was taken seriously.

    Although, yes, that does mean that Olbermann would never have had such a job to lose in the first place. Fine by me.
  13. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Oh noes, could be a conflict of interest! He could be misinterpreted as a Democratic supporter!
  14. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, the liberal media.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    By the way Keith is the biggest cashcow for MSNBC, so it is just a powerplay on behalf of Phil....
  15. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Amen and Amen.
  16. countezero Registered Senior Member

    Jesus, only an extreme Leftist could say that. You really are waaayyy out on that branch, aren't you? Not that I didn't know that, but...

    If that quote is accurate, it's pretty ridiculous. Olbermann is obviously not a journalist -- and never was. And more obviously, he is hosting an opinion show, which is why I said he should not be fired.

    I mean, what difference does it make if he makes a donation? It's not like he was ever objective or that MSNBC and Fox and CNN and all the others don't hire people who worked for Dems or Republicans. Is the veneer of objectivity really this thin? MSNBC should just label Olbermann's show for what everyone knew it was: Democrat Partisan Rants and be done with this mess. The show attracted people (quite a lot) who want to watch that -- and hardly anyone else. And there's nothing wrong with that.

    Not sure what that means, less sure I care. But I am sure you will somehow insert this in your Right Wing Authoritarian theory.

    I hear you, but good luck with that. It's doubtful you will find one. People can whine and moan about the press here, but it's more objective than any other country I know of. I mean, at least the major news organs here claim to aspire to objectivity.

    As for Fox, it has two contracts from what I gather. One for its journalists, one for its "program" division, which allows its opinion-gabbers to escape the ethics clauses. Interestingly enough, Fox is supposedly miffed with Beck's overt politicism, among other things (or so the NYT said), but that can be interpreted a number of ways...
  17. superstring01 Moderator

    Brit Hume works for Fox. FoxNews has no such prohibition. In fact, one can almost imagine that Fox practically requires political donations on the part of its journalists.

  18. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    Viewership reported a month ago:

    "The cable news ratings for the third quarter of 2010 were released today, and Fox News is showing signs of decline as their viewership has decreased by 21%, and their top shows all posted double digit losses, while MSNBC’s shows grew and the network attracted more younger viewers.

    Fox News is still dominating the cable news ratings. The network has the top 11 programs in cable news, but there are ominous signs that the empire is starting to crack. Compared to the third quarter of 2009, Fox has lost 21% of their total viewers, and 26% of their younger viewers. The biggest loser on the network was Bill O’Reilly who saw his program The O’Reilly Factor lose 12% of its total viewers and 21% of its young viewers. Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bret Baier, and Greta Van Susteren rounded out the top five cable news shows, and they each posted double digit declines."

    Here are breakdown numbers for one particular day. Keith's show is the most viewed with the Maddow show, about 40% more than Matthews' or 60% more than the Morning Joe.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2010
  19. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    By the way I don't watch Keith, but from now on, I might just start to do so. (there is really not that much happening to watch 1 hour every day) Let's do a Countdown before he is back, I say less than a week.

    Olbermann coming back countdown: 7
  20. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    oh how I laugh, I just wish more pundits could get there asses kicked for stupid things.
  21. Pinwheel Banned Banned

    Maybe shifting further to the right is the answer...
  22. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    What was so stupid about this? You could just call it forgetting something, the whole thing is blown out of proportion and again, it is a power struggle, nothing more...
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Notes Around

    At the outset, while I agree that Olbermann's sympathies are obvious, and that his show is about commentary and "analysis" (e.g., punditry) more than objective news, if this is a violation of MSNBC's rules, then yes, MSNBC is within their right to suspend or even dismiss him. Indeed, Olbermann's popularity is probably the only thing that kept them from firing him outright; MSNBC is getting trounced in the ratings.

    • • •​

    It doesn't really matter if Joe did it, too. Nor does it matter that MSNBC made excuses for Joe Scarborough. Well, not so directly.

    Indeed, which leads me to my next point ....

    • • •​

    An excellent point. This is part of a much larger drama going on in the cable "news" world.

    Start with the general myth of "liberal media bias". There are various aspects here, one of which is that such an alleged bias only really applies in any context to reporters. The higher up the news media food chain you go, the more conservative the institutions get. The idea of liberal media bias starts with the observed fact that more reporters at traditional news outlets happen to vote liberal or progressive. But what of their editors? Publishers? Directors and producers? Network executives?

    Everette E. Dennis of Fordham University explains:

    From studies of the elite national press to those focused on medium- and small-town newspapers, working journalists consistently register positive on the liberal litmus test and have since the 1930s when Leo Rosten first examined the character, background and practices of the Washington press corps.

    To many critics, these studies offer definitive evidence of a pervasive liberal bias among the nation’s journalists. But this is far too simplistic. Among other things, these critics ignore the political predilections of publishers and media owners, which are and have always been overwhelmingly conservative ....

    The advent of FOX News was a milepost in the liberal media bias debate. Citing the myth of liberal media bias as fact, FOX News went forward as a definitively conservative propaganda outlet. Although many tried to deny this, despite Roger Ailes' direct expression of the point, the fact has become unavoidable. If their presentation of Bill O'Reilly and, of late, Glenn Beck didn't make the point clearly enough, Rupert Murdoch—CEO of FOX's parent company, News Corporation—donated over a million dollars this year to the Republican Governors' Association.

    MSNBC's role in the media bias debate has often been murky:

    While your point is generally valid, it also verges on a false equivalence. For instance, sure, it's quite clear that the MSNBC prime time lineup is generally sympathetic toward liberalism, but even including the gasbag Ed Schultz, their presenters might have a liberal opinion on the facts, but at least they are dealing in facts. FOX is part of a right-wing echo chamber in which repetition, not validity, makes something a fact. Or, as Rachel Maddow put it:

    MADDOW: Sharia law has not, in fact, supplanted the United States Constitution anywhere in the United States.

    When confronted with that truth, candidate Sharron Angle's response was not to withdraw the claim but to explain why she believed it, which is good enough for her.


    LARS LARSON: Did you say, though, that Sharia law was in place in Dearborn right now?

    SHARRON ANGLE (R), FORMER NEVADA SENATE NOMINEE: I had read that in one place, that they started using some Sharia law there, that's what I had read.


    MADDOW: I have no doubt that you have, in fact, read that, Sharron Angle.

    If you've been reading around in conservative media world recently, you read a lot of stuff like that. And because that media world is now so big and so well-funded that it is self-contained, and self-sustaining, there is no debunking of this stuff anymore. It just becomes true by dint of mutual conservative reinforcement and repetition.

    Many have asserted, in defense of FOX News and support of the liberal media "conspiracy" that MSNBC is no different than FOX News. They hold up MSNBC as an example of liberal extremism.

    Yet this is the same network that dropped Phil Donahue. They claimed it wasn't political, but rather because he wasn't getting good enough ratings. Donahue, however, hosted the network's highest-rated show, edging out Chris Matthews' Hardball in its final weeks. Donahue was replaced by former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough. Next, the network demoted and eventually fired one of its rising stars, Ashleigh Banfield, in response to a speech she gave at Kansas State University. Her mistake? She criticized cable news coverage of the Iraq War.

    CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin said in 2008 that during her time at MSNBC, the network pressured their reporters to support the Bush administration.

    A few years ago, conservative journalist Tucker Carlson, hosting his own show on MSNBC, criticized San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome. He compared Newsome to Nazis because the mayor had declared San Francisco a refuge city. Now, setting aside the whole argument about how terrible it is to call someone a Nazi, how does that comparison even work? The Nazis labeled people as outsiders and then persecuted them; Mayor Newsome made a point of welcoming outsiders. There seems to be a functional discord there. What was Carlson's punishment for such an outrage? Absolutely nothing. Unlike Donahue, when his show was canceled for low ratings, the problem really was low ratings. Carlson, formerly a writer for National Review, is now a regular contributor to FOX News, where he can tackle important issues such as why President Obama should hide the pictures of his family he keeps in his office.

    In 2008, MSNBC appeased its conservative critics by removing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as anchors of the network's election-night coverage.

    Is this really the behavior of the "liberal equivalent to FOX News"?

    And this is just MSNBC. In the larger picture of the liberal media conspiracy, it is only one piece of the puzzle.

    Numerous media figures have been punished by the "liberal media conspiracy" for saying things that conservatives don't like. This was brought into sharp focus recently when NPR fired senior news analyst Juan Williams for explaining to FOX News how people who look Muslim scare him. Some congressional conservatives responded by threatening to cut the two or so percent of NPR's $162 million yearly budget that comes from the federal government. Naturally, there isn't much Congress can do about the budgets of the cable news media, which are funded by advertising. One thing they could do, though, but, naturally, won't, is stop giving interviews to these outlets. But that's not going to happen, for obvious reasons. And, of course, the other side will start screaming about elitist hostility toward the media.

    But those who accept Williams' firing must also accept Olbermann's suspension. This was a contractual violation, and regardless of what we think about such contract terms, they are what these journalists sign their names to in order to have their platforms for speaking.

    And, sure, that begs an issue in and of itself, but how many NPR supporters who are upset about Williams' firing are going to come out and say it honestly? How many of them are going to say, "That rips it! I'm withholding money from my local public radio station until NPR revises its contracts so its employees can use the institution's prestige to lend authority to insane bigotry!"

    And, really, how many MSNBC viewers are going to abandon the network for FOX or CNN until NBC news changes its contract terms?

    I wish Rachel Maddow's transcript from last night was posted; she made the point very well. Yes, the folks at FOX News contribute to all sorts of conservative causes. Yes, Sean Hannity boasted of helping to raise seven million for the RNC. Yes, he maxed out his donations to several Republican candidates. Yes, he used his show to help raise funds for John Kasich. But he also works for FOX News, and nobody outside the self-contained right wing sphere of delusion doesn't know what FOX News is. MSNBC might be widely viewed as the liberal cable news station. But not even Ed Schultz is as bad with his facts as FOX News. MSNBC and FOX News are different kinds of creatures. And Keith Olbermann's suspension reminds us of that.

    It all comes back to that mythical liberal media conspiracy. You might notice that very few on either side are upset about Rick Sanchez's departure from CNN. And why is that? Well, for liberals, it's because he said something immensely stupid, even more so than his usual worthless tripe. And for conservatives, it's because he said something nasty about Jews.

    See, saying bad things about Jews is just off limits to conservatives. Just ask Helen Thomas. But saying the bad things about Muslims? Now that is praiseworthy. Juan Williams now has a lucrative contract with FOX News, where he quite obviously wanted to be, anyway. Mike Huckabee has a job at FOX News. And Dick Armey has gone on to be a Tea Party Patriot.

    There are clearly two standards in play, with the effect that, if zero describes the range of acceptability, |-2| = |8|. You can clearly be more extreme to the right and expect people to accept and justify your behavior. I mean, normally, I tell people if they want to see what liberal media bias looks like, go to the World Socialist Web Site. But even they are not so far out on the fringe as FOX News.

    And having thrown together that diatribe, I would also note that—

    —it's a strange question about GE ownership. When I was a kid, I remember lamenting to my father at the number of advertisements popping up in the local newspaper. (The upshot, though, was the lingerie adverts on page three at least once a week.) His response was, "Do you think that quarter pays for the newspaper? Someone has to pay for it."

    So the reality is that if it's not GE, then who? Look at the "independent" news sources for the left wing: Communist party rags, the ICFI's World Socialist Web Site, AlterNet, TruthOut, ThinkProgress—if it has, or is perceived as having a liberal slant, it is obviously not credible. And what of the "liberal media conspiracy"? The New York Times and The Washington Post followed the conservative drumbeat to war; CNN maintains the conservative line on Israel; the difference between torture or not to NPR is whether it is a nation abroad or the United States engaging in the behavior.

    Meanwhile, FOX News is somehow credible? The Washington Times? Even around here, we find people who think The New York Post is credible when it's hyping fake scandals. NBC News, under whose rubric Keith Olbermann (but not Rick Santelli) works, stood by Brian Williams when he responded to media reports of the networks putting Pentagon-paid officials supporting Bush administration arguments by saying, "How dare they?"

    Without GE, or some other large company ultimately running the show, who pays for the programming? Where would Olbermann, Maddow, or others be?

    And this, too, is central to the debunking the liberal media conspiracy myth. Maybe the face on the screen has liberal sympathies, but what, really, do we think the executives prefer? As you pointed out, MSNBC has long struggled to find its identity. As a market decision, it can't be FOX News lite. As a market decision, it can't be "the other CNN". As a market decision, Olbermann is only suspended, and a guest host filled his seat on Friday; if they thought they could afford to cut him loose permanently, they probably would. If Maddow had her way, one day would be enough. If our friend Syzygys is correct, it would be a week. Why is the suspension "indefinite"? So that it can be market oriented. If it hurts MSNBC too much, the suspension will be "shortened". If it doesn't, who knows?

    I wouldn't tack you to the wall for your post; rather, I think it highlights some of the central themes of what's going on—it provides an excellent springboard for this discussion.


    Dennis, Everette E. "Liberal reporters, yes; liberal slant no!" The American Editor. January-February, 1997. November 6, 2010.

    Maddow, Rachel. The Rachel Maddow Show. MSNBC, New York. November 4, 2010. Transcript. November 6, 2010.

    Digby. "Truth's Consequences". Hullaballoo. April 27, 2007. November 6, 2010.

    Greenwald, Glenn. "CNN/MSNBC reporter: Corporate executives forced pro-Bush, pro-war narrative". Unclaimed Territory. May 29, 2008. November 6, 2010.

    —————. "Octavia Nasr's firing and what The Liberal Media allows". Unclaimed Territory. July 8, 2010. November 6, 2010.

    Ellen. "Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Objects To Family Photos Behind Obama’s Desk". News Hounds. Septemer 1, 2010. November 6, 2010.

    Sheppard, Noel. "Matthews and Olbermann Removed as Election Coverage Anchors". NewsBusters. September 7, 2008. November 6, 2010.

    "The Noise About Public Radio". Editorial. The New York Times. October 29, 2010. November 6, 2010.

    Duss, Matt. "Thomas Has Apologized; When Will Huckabee?" ThinkProgress. June 5, 2010. November 6, 2010.

    Cockburn, Alexander. "Palestine to Move to Dallas-Fort Worth: Dick Armey's Bold Plan". CounterPunch. May 8, 2002. November 6, 2010.

    See Also:

    World Socialist Web Site.

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