Free Markets, Free People
Actually who cares? But it is an interesting question – perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole situation. That Olbermann is off the air, at least temporarily, bothers me not one whit. But we all know he’ll end up resurfacing somewhere. Maybe CNN who he helped into third place by getting MSNBC to “lean forward”. Heh …
So to the question at hand, you can find commentary which claims both – he quit, he was fired. Howard Kurtz says he quit.
Many are pointing to these words as an indication that he was fired:
Olbermann said he had been “told that this is the last edition of your show” and thanked his audience, saying: “My gratitude to you is boundless.”
Eh, not necessarily. He had gotten a 4 year extension on his contract in 2008 and reports say he reached an agreement with management over the remaining part of that deal. So it is possible he told them he was quitting and as soon as the agreement was reached, he was told, “we’re done – tonight’s the night”.
But it does point to something that was pretty well known – he was a pain in the ass employee who was constantly at war with management. No matter how good you are, when you’re a PITA, you aren’t as untouchable as you think. Olbermann may have found that out.
Anyway more of the story will come out over the next few weeks. Suffice it say, much of the right won’t miss him at all, but the lefty blogs are pretty bummed by the whole deal. I forget which one praised him as “an unapologetic liberal” who finally – FINALLY—brought the liberal perspective to air and showed it would pay (i.e. make money).
A little bit of opinion on that – what he did was provide good theater. He was an angry guy spouting angry stuff and pushing the envelope in that regard. There were many on the right who watched him specifically because he was outrageous and entertaining – a guilty pleasure. Selling his nonsense? Eh, not so much. The echo chamber on the left nodded their head and those on the right who watched loved to lambast his talking points. And interestingly, becoming the “Worst Person in the World” became a badge of honor and a competition on the right. But was he persuasive? Probably not.
Ah well, like I said, he’ll pop up again somewhere. Dan Rather says there’s an opening at HD Net?
Of course Iowahawk has heard that he was contacted by the North Korean News Agency about a little work there – apparently they’re looking for a personality that would help them tone-down their rhetoric.
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.