Nov 07 2010

Keith is back. Should we laugh, or cry?

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 11:00 pm

Keith Olbermann returns to MSNBC on Tuesday


just two days after he was suspended “indefinitely” for contributing to three 2010 candidates without prior consent from the network.

“After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night’s program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy,” Griffin said in a statement. “We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night.”

I knew it was too good to last.

What’s interesting is how many right-leaning commentators thought Olbermann had been mistreated.  But I think they just wanted to keep him around for laughs…  which is about what he’s good for.

The suspension brought into the focus the ongoing tensions between the nonpartisan NBC News and the partisan hosts on MSNBC.

Even though Olbermann is paid for opinion, the undisclosed donations presented a clear conflict of interest for someone who recently anchored an election night. MSNBC already received some criticism last week for having its liberal hosts and commentators anchor election night.  So the news that one of them also donated to Democratic candidates only gave more ammo to conservative critics of the cable network.

Now we’re getting to the real issue, which is not Olbermann as such, but the MSNBC management’s decisions to confuse its news anchors with its opinion-spouters. They used Olbermann and Matthews to provide “news” coverage of the 2008 elections, conventions, etc. 

Maddow talked of a double standard where Fox News allows Republican hosts like Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee to take a role in politics that goes beyond journalism and into advocacy. For Maddow, the incident showed how MSNBC is different in suspending Olbermann for giving to candidates while Fox didn’t take a similarly hard line when it came to Hannity’s contribution to Michelle Bachmann.

“Let this incident lay to rest forever, the facile, never-true-in-any-way, lazy conflation of Fox News, and what the rest of us do for a living,” Maddow said. “Everybody likes to say, ‘Oh, that’s cable news. It’s all the same. Fox and MSNBC, mirror images of each other.’ Let this lay that to rest forever.”

Maddow continued: “Hosts on Fox raise money on the air for Republican candidates. They use their Fox News profiles to headline fundraisers. Heck, there are multiple people being paid by Fox News now to essentially run as Republican candidates. There is no rule against that at Fox. They run as a political operation. We’re not.”

Maddow obviously has trouble making basic distinctions between news reporters and opinion journalists.  To my knowledge, FOX has not used Hannity, Beck, etc., as anchors for major political news events in providing basic coverage of those events.  The pretense that Olbermann, Matthews, Maddow, et. al., aren’t primarily political advocates and partisans is what is so silly here.  MSNBC makes no apparent attempt to distinguish between news reporting and opinion journalism.  That could be the reason why Maddow and company can’t understand the distinction when FOX does it.

Not to be self-serving, but order MEDIA MALPRACTICE at the link in the upper right of this page and you’ll learn all you need to know about how objective MSNBC wasn’t in the 2008 election, as well as a good deal else.

In the meantime, based on ratings, at least, it’s clear that FOX is trusted by MANY more listeners than MSNBC, by nearly an order of magnitude.  Maybe there’s a reason.