Free Markets, Free People

Is MSNBC just tired of Olbermann?

Just as I thought NPR was wrong for firing Juan Williams, I’m of the same opinion about suspending Olbermann, at least for the reasons stated.  If MSNBC thinks there is anyone anywhere that doesn’t know Olbermann is a liberal pundit then I’d have to wonder about them.  Pundits, no matter how vile, are expected to have a bias.  Those that report hard new aren’t (even if they do).  What Olbermann’s contributions have to do with anything is beyond me.   Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me, nor would I care, if he gave the legal limit in donations to every one of those on the Democratic side running for re-election.

On the other hand, if you know the employer you are going to work for prohibits this sort of thing, and you sign the contract with that understanding, then they have every right – despite my disagreement – to do whatever they choose to do.   It would be hard for me to believe that Olbermann didn’t know about that rule.

So while I don’t agree with the rule (it seems a bit anachronistic given MSNBC basic declaration of a liberal news outlet  – “lean forward”) it is their rule.  Whether or not it has been applied rigorously and consistently is unknown to me although I’ve read that others who’ve made similar contributions have been ignored.

If that’s the case then this enforcement on Olbermann is arbitrary and there is probably something more behind it. I think NPR was looking for an excuse to cut Williams loose and the same may be happening with Olbermann.  He’s nasty piece of work and certainly not a ratings bonanza for the network.  So there may be more to this than the donations.



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29 Responses to Is MSNBC just tired of Olbermann?

  • You probably have it about right. The guy is so over the top that even liberal-friendly executives have to cringe every time Olbermann leans forward in that chair and starts explaining how everyone to the right of Joe Lieberman is effectively allied with Satan.

    I think Olbermann’s vitriolic style wears after a while, even on those sympathetic to his point of view. The leftist hectoring class could take some lessons from the all-time champion, Rush Limbaugh. He doesn’t do much for me, but at least I can stand to listen to Rush occassionally. Many have listened regularly for decades, even though he gets strident at times in support of his ideology. He manages to strike a pretty good balance of entertainment and lecturing, and rarely gets outright nasty.

    I know the idiots at Media Matters would disagree, because the left thinks anyone who criticizes them is nasty by axiomatic necessity. I’d suggest they analyze Olbermann to understand true nastiness, but again their axiomatically blind insistence that anyone on the left is a good guy would prevent that.

  • The fundamental difference between Williams and Olbermann is in the source of money for the respective outlets.
    Outside of that, it may be said that Olbermann violated a clearly articulated policy, and Williams said something that was un-PC but nothing more.  Dunno…
    With Alan Greyson out of a job, maybe Olbermann was considered very, very expendable.  Greyson would work for a LOT less…

  • MSNBC is just tired, of extreamly poor ratings, because of Olbermann—–CONEY

  • Eff him.

  • Olbermann “sin” was just giving money to candidates or having candidates on his show, but rather the combination having on candidates that he had given money to. Making it appear that MSNBC was endorsing candidate that he had given money to.

    there is a real problem with these news organizations potentially violating the campaign finance laws. The solution that they have arrived at, I suspect, is pre-clearance where the networks can see if there is an apparent conflict, and if there is, to set up ground rules that the on-air talent needs to follow. Thus, they might have given Olbermann the option of either pushing a candidacy on-air or contributing to it. Or, they may have required that he at least make bona fide offers for opposing candidates to get equal time and treatment. This is seemingly what he bypassed here. And, his pushing a candidacy on-air that he had financially contributed to, would seem, to me, like somewhat strong indicia that he had exceeded the federal campaign limits through this in-kind contribution added to his monetary contribution.

    • For some odd reason, I keep writing “was” when I meant “wasn’t”

    • Actually, Olbermann’s “sin” was giving money to Democrats.  GE and Comcast give money to Republicans all the time.

      • Care to give me some figures? I would be very very surprised if the contributions to Democrats from GE did not far far outweigh the contributions to Republicans.

        • Somehow I doubt ‘libhomo’ can.
          I gave the figures for Comcast below, and those for GE are actually quite balanced since 1989:
          over 19 million total, with 52% to Democrats (though the last two cycles seen the largest percentage to Dems since tracking began (66% in 2008 and 61% in 2010):

          As a side note the evil right-wing News Corp donations total over 11 million since 1989. 58% to Dems.

    • Neo,
      That’s a good point, though I doubt that anyone in the Justice Department would investigate FEC violations by a news organization.  I’d expect that the lot of campaign finance laws would be frayed and reknit by a close First Amendment scrutiny.

  • It’s being theorized that with the pending purchase by Comcast, MSNBC is gonna be doing some blood-letting of the more expensive/vitriolic talent.  If this is true, expect Maddow to be next.
    That assumes, of course, that this isn’t a slap on the wrist, and that he’s not back in a week.

    • There has been some talk that wants to be put at arms length from MSNBC, the cable network.
      While this talk has centered around changing the name of, I personally think they should rename the cable network to something like

  • Apparently Olbermann signed a contract that said he would not donate money to any political candidates, particularly ones he’s had on his show, without asking permission from MSNBC. He didn’t.

    • Yeah, but … “I question the timing.”

      If the Dems had had a good election, does anyone suppose MSNBC would have been so punctilious about enforcing that rule against Olberman? And one presumes that Olberman made those donations some time before the election, but somehow he wasn’t suspended then.

      It’s not a big enough deal to hold one’s breath waiting for proof. Until told otherwise, I’ll bet that MSNBC is cutting Olberman loose on this technicality.

      • He wasn’t suspended then because he boss didn’t know.

      • Huxley,
        The timing depends on when the candidates filed their donation lists to the FEC.  I bet you Politico does regular searches of the FEC donation database for a whole swath of pundits, politicians, party apparatchiks and profiteers.  (I mean businesspeople, but I really wanted another ‘p’ word there.)
        That’s the whole point of all that data you enter on the political donation form, it allows for an easy look-up of who you gave money too.

      • I agree, and you have to factor in Comcast buying MSNBC as well. At over 300,000 an episode, Olbermann just wasn’t performing well enough to keep around. Griffin might be more worried about keeping his job than any contractual violations.

      • The week before the election.

  • This is a case of conflict between what is “good” (pleasant, enjoyable) and what is “right”.  When Olbie got sacked, I was extremely pleased.  After all the blabbing from the left over the years about the bias at Fox, here we see MSNBC finally owning up to an undisputable case of bias and even undeniably unethical conduct on the part of one of their biggest talents names.
    And yet…

    1. Did anybody prior to this have ANY reasonable belief that Olbie wasn’t a total democrat partisan? So, what difference did his actions here make? MSNBC gets the Captain Louis Renault Award for discovering the Olbie is biased.

    2. Olbie ripped the right during every broadcast while pumping up the left, in effect making an “in kind” donation to the DNC every time he opened his mouth. Why the punishment for making a relatively paltry financial contribution, too?

    3. I’m pretty sure that the morons who watch MSNBC probably wouldn’t care if Olbie was pimping out his wife, children and family pets so long as the the proceeds went to the DNC, so it’s not like his actions are costing them ratings.

    4. MSNBC’s parent companies make huge political donations. Yet, their employees can’t? I seem to recall the left being SOOOOO upset over the whole “Citizens United” decision for this very reason.

    In short, as much as I detest Olbie and relish the idea of him never blackening the airwaves again, he has been mistreated in this case and should (gag) be reinstated. MSNBC should also revise their policy: “You can give to whomever you want within the guidelines of the law, but such contributions must immediately be made public.”

    • Nah, he violated the policy – it’s a rule – he broke it.  The only question I would have is it evenly enforced.   But since they claim they’re unbiased, seeing them unevenly enforce their own rules wouldn’t surprise me either.

  • Olbermann is an ongoing mental breakdown. I recall him, at the time of Russert’s death, acting like Renfield, taking Russert’s supposed legacy beneath the stairs and devouring it like a handful of spiders. He’s the single craziest m**********r I’ve ever seen on television, and that includes Joe Pyne and Brother Theodore, who might have been just pretending. But MSNBC is his channel, and it was essentially remade in his image. Maddow is his protege, in fact. And Matthews, whose accelerated rhetoric might be the source for everything you see there, even he had to remake himself to keep up with Olbermann. But, if you believe in cutting off the head of the snake, then this is the right move for MSNBC, even if it’s barely justified on the basis that they’re making it.

    I was once upon a time a regular viewer of MSNBC, and despite its slant back then, I preferred it to Fox, which was a little too something for me. And I regularly watched Matthews, who ran a fairly interesting show, back in the 90s. But he lost his mind over Bush and for Obama and though he was always two-faced (and that was always annoying), adding literal madness to the mix was too much for me. I think that Olbermann merely took what became of Matthews and used it as a starting point. And that whole place became something out of dystopian science fiction.

    Comcast should burn it down and start over.

  • Every time I hear the catchphrase, Lean Forward, I can’t help but thinking that they really mean, Bend Over.

  • And he is back on Tuesday:

    From Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC:

    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. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night.

    By the way if you read complaints about the terrible right-wingers of Comcast, remember that 57% of Comcast political contributions has gone to Democrats since 1989:
    “People and political action committees associated with Comcast Corp. together generally favor Democrats when it comes to political campaign contributions.”

    • Bad for MSNBC (he tops their ratings while suppressing the capacity of the network to grow those ratings, so it’s a classic double-bind), but good for sane people in need of an occasional reminder of how functionally insane the Left prefers its idols. Five minutes, or even just thirty seconds, of Olbermann can remind and sober up normal Americans pretty fast about what the further reaches of statist diktat looks like when it wears a human face.

  • Of course everyone knew KO was a far left crazy.  The issue is that journalists don’t give any money, volunteer time, etc to politicians to make sure that all media has equal access and that politicians can’t sell access.  What KO did was hugely wrong and sets terrible precedent.