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Marion On November - 6 - 2010

Keith Olbermann got an indefinite suspension without pay handed to him yesterday.  Nobody died. Nobody declared war. No one detonated a suicide bomb. There was no tsunami, no earthquake, no raging forest fire, no loss of life.

A 51 year-old celebrity talking head, who earned upwards of $8 million dollars per year knowingly breached a clause in his contract and got handed his ass on a plate.

Everyday someplace in this country, various and sundry fiftysomethings get handed their asses on a plate, usually by management in a company/industry where they’ve been working for the past thirty years; but they don’t have an $8 million dollar salary to sustain them, nor will many of them ever hope to work again, unlike Keith, who – if he’s not retained – will probably grace the portals of CNN for an even bigger salary.

But the way people are responding to this in the blogosphere is nothing less than astounding, and I don’t mean that in a good way. There’s been such a cyber renting of raiments and a gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair that all this expounded grief would find a better home in a Cecille B DeMille biblical blockbuster.

All of a sudden, the election is forgotten. The fact that a dangerous Republican party with a virulently reactionary Rightwing has just taken control of the House of Representatives, the fact that these people and their cohorts in the Senate won’t articulate their so-called American promise to remedy our economic woes, the fact that the Senate Minority Leader is dictating events as though he’s won a mandate, himself, to rid the White House of the black man in the Oval Office, the fact that a nationally elected official from the GOP is spreading an obvious lie all over the country about the totally inflated cost of the President’s 10-day trip to Asia, has all gone with the wind in the face of the fact that Keith Olbermann has been put on indefinite suspension without pay.

People are demanding boycotts of MSNBC, Starbucks and ComCast. People are speculating how long it will be before Rachel Maddow is the next head to roll. People are blaming ComCast, especially the CEO they’ve put in charge of MSNBC, pointing to Bushian associations and Republican leanings. There are petitions, there are pleadings.

If the so-called Democratic base had been this galvanised on Tuesday, Nancy Pelosi would be looking forward to another stint as Speaker for the 112th Congress.

What does that say about us that we could get all up in arms about a multi-millionaire talking head, a man whose ego is so ginormous and so thin-skinned that he won’t tolerate divergent points of view on his program every night, but we couldn’t be assed to go and vote in this election?

Oh, sorry … just remembered. Keith doesn’t vote either. He just criticizes politicians and the government. Sorry, Keith, but the way I was raised, if you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice; and without that voice, you’ve no right to criticize the elected government, because your non-vote gave them tacit approval.

And you have even less right to hold a nightly bully pulpit in which to influence the opinions of others.

Many of these lost souls lament the loss of a voice. Pardon me, but I didn’t realise we on the Left suffer from collective laryngitis or that we’d somehow elected Keith Olbermann to speak for us.

I didn’t.

I may agree with a lot of things he says, but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes he gets it wrong, and I have more than a little bit of a hard time with a man who refers to a woman as a mashed up piece of meat with lipstick, I don’t care what her party affiliation is. That man, that person, doesn’t speak for me.

It also bothers me a great deal to hear people from the Left lament the fact that there are no people on “our side” who can compare to the GOP operatives who spew for Fox. We’re supposed to be better than dittoes. Let the Rightwing and their Teabagging counterparts hang on every word of Beck, Hannity and Whoever the rising star of the moment in Murdochland be. Those people are used to being told what to think and how to think from the religious pulpit to the Republican demagogues.

Yet we’re cultivating our own brand who swear by Ed Schultz’s carpet-ridden rants and worship at the altar of St Keith.

Keith Olbermann made three financial contributions to as many Democratic Congressional and Senate candidates this year, one on the day he interviewed one of the three to whom he contributed. He made the maximum disclosable amount possible, which indicates that he knew that his contribution would be published in their individual disclosures … which means he knew MSNBC would find out what he’d done.

NBC and its cable affiliate MSNBC have had, since 2007, contracts which contain a clause forbidding news and opinion journalist personnel from making political donations to candidates or political parties without first obtaining permission from their respective managements.

Keith didn’t, so he is in breach of contract and was punished, accordingly.

This is what firms/companies/industries/businesses do when employees break the rules.

But I will admit that something doesn’t ring true in all of this: Since he was told to leave the premises of MSNBC on Friday, Keith’s been silence itself. Usually, when his ego’s been dented or he feels his pride’s been dealt a blow or someone’s done committed a grievous wrong against him, Keith hits the Twittersphere. This time, there’s been nothing.

And that silence brings a few conspiracy theories of my own to the fore.

First, after listening to Rachel Maddow’s excellent and rational comment on Keith’s suspension Friday evening, I thought that maybe this was a contrived event for a particular purpose. Rachel’s lengthy remarks weighed in heavily with fact-based findings and statements about how Fox (News) not only allows its news and opinion personnel to contribute to various GOP candidates’ campaigns, they also allow themselves and the candidates licence to ask for donations. The also have on their payroll at the moment, no less than five people who, plausibly, could be in contention for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012.

In other words, Fox is acting more like a PAC for the Republican party than the “fair and balanced” news organisation it purports to be.

MSNBC, on the other hand, has standards written into employment contracts to which its employees must adhere, regarding political contributions or endorsements. When the employee breaks that rule, he’s punished.

This is what news organisations do.

So maybe MSNBC contrived this whole occurrance by which they’ve driven home the point to the American public which the President stated over a year ago – Fox News is really the propaganda arm of the Republican Party.

Or, maybe Keith orchestrated this whole brouhaha for a different reason. Keith has form in leaving  jobs with panache. He’s usually fired and asked never to return to the premises. CNN approached him in 2006, offering him all sorts, the least of which being MSNBC’s total destruction by Countdown moving to CNN. That manouevre fell through, but maybe someone’s said something at which he’s biting. A bit of suspension time, his dittoes going mad on the blogosphere, a lot of publicity drummed up a la Conan.

Or … maybe he just broke the damned rules and is being punished.

Either way, people are reacting to this as if this were a tragedy of immense proportions. When I pointed out to a self-righteous soul on Facebook that Keith was a millionaire who, if he had to do so, would walk away from MSNBC to another network with no trouble at all, whilst his counterparts in ordinary life are doomed to unemployment insurance which the Republican Party would love to deny them; when I pointed out to this Left Coast soul that Keith would be all right, but his ordinary life counterpart would suffer, she gave me the po-faced reply of a prima donna: “And so will liberty.”

People, this man is a millionaire pundit who lives a lifestyle, even in unemployment, of which you can only dream. He’s employed by a major news corporation for a seven-figure salary, and he’ll probably live to be employed by another news corporation for an even bigger seven-figure salary. He’ll have Cadillac healthcare until the day he dies and the best tickets to Yankees’ games.

He’s a celebrity talking head, he’s not your boyfriend or your husband or your brother or the guy you have a drink with or the fella in your old fraternity. And whilst he loves your tweets and your online petitions and your threats made to MSNBC, he’s just nto that into you.

What he is into is his own brand, his ego, the size and weight of his wallet and the ratings for the corporation which pays him. Lately, his protegee, Rachel Maddow, has been bettering Keith in the ratings stakes … and that might well have something to do with this too.

At the end of the day, Keith is a voice for Keith, and a voice for whatever MSNBC want him to promote. We have our own voices on the Left. We don’t need corporate hacks, however many charitable ventures they front or promote, voicing opinions we’re capable of forming, ourselves. We should channel our critical thinking gene, even if that sometimes means listening to opinions from the other side of the spectrum.

My guess is that Olbermann will be back. There will be a brief, perfunctory apology and then it will be business as usual, with maybe even a return of the Worst Person in the World. Last Saturday at the Rally to Restore Sanity, Keith reckoned Jon Stewart had jumped the shark when Stewart included Keith next to Glen Beck in a montage of blowhards from both political extremes who contribute to the polarisation and ineffectuality at problem-solving in this country.

Friday the shark Stewart jumped took a chunk out of Keith.

Good night and good luck.

91 Responses so far.

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  1. bitohistory says:

    I think I have read and heard as much about KO’s personality has I have read or heard about the fact’s of the case. Seems everybody knows “the REAL Keith,” whether they spoke to him once or watch his program every day.

    I heard a preview for an upcoming interview with Paul Rubins.

    Now be honest, when you read that he was arrested in a XXX movie house,years ago, you pictured some one in a too small suit and a funny face with a squeaky voice? You didn’t picture Paul but Pee-Wee Herman, right?
    Quick, picture John Wayne!

  2. Questinia says:

    People like Griffin who engage in pissing contests don’t know what to do when they run out of piss.

    KO didn’t kowtow because he is independently “above it all” for better or worse. Many bosses don’t like that and will cherry-pick and exaggerate an “infraction”.

    I think that is all that happened. It is of academic interest to those who like to theorize.

    The only thing interesting about the KO story is what controversies it spawned. So, as usual, we are more interesting than the people we talk about.

    I can pretty much guarantee you, Marion, your post is more interesting than what actually happened.

    • KevenSeven says:

      “I can pretty much guarantee you, Marion, your post is more interesting than what actually happened.”

      That actually is a pretty interesting view of the matter.

      I hate to say it, but I am not sure yet that your friend Keith (who I like a lot) was not in part responsible for this mess. At least in part.

      • Questinia says:

        Keith is not my friend, he’s my boyfriend 😉

        • KevenSeven says:

          Oh, no he’s not!!!!

          Don’t get me wrong. I like the guy. But he is one bull-headed bastard and you can tell him I said so. And AdLib knows my address, if Keith wants a word with me!

          • Questinia says:

            This is what Ketih is like, Kev:

            [img]?adImageId=1138826&imageId=4095023[/img]

            • KevenSeven says:

              You really must trust me, I like the guy. And I bet he is very nice most of the time. But I would be amazed to find that he does not have a bit of an ego.

              I don’t hold it against him, really.

  3. KevenSeven says:

    Marion,

    Having read all this again, I don’t agree with you quite as much as I had thought at first blush. I’m not as critical of Olbermann as you are.

    That said, I really appreciated this thread. Good give and take, and I applaud you sticking up for your views.

    I anticipate with pleasure the topic that we are diametrically opposed on. I know you will have no complaints in a vigorous debate. I’m just afraid that you will beat me soundly!

  4. KevenSeven says:

    Marion,

    I gotta tell you, that you really pissed me off with this post.

    It was so excellent and covered most of what I have been saying on the subject. I’ll get even with you some day. I will post a brilliant column that says everything you wanted to say, and leave you with nothing to do but agree. You just wait.

    Lord, I was just frantic explaining to people that this has NOTHING to do with the First Amendment. (MSNBC is not Congress).

    And that as long as the employer has a legitimate interest in restricting an employee’s actions, it can.

    Just for comparison, this is what NPR says on the subject:

    VIII. Politics, community and outside activities

    1. NPR journalists may not run for office, endorse candidates or otherwise engage in politics. Since contributions to candidates are part of the public record, NPR journalists may not contribute to political campaigns, as doing so would call into question a journalist’s impartiality.

    2. NPR journalists may not participate in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or contribute money to them.

    Thanks again for the excellent column. I gotta give it a re-read and then go thru the comments…..

    • Khirad says:

      Since when is Keith in the same category of journalistic impartiality as NPR, though?

      Unless your point is simply that the employer gets to do what it wants.

      • KevenSeven says:

        Assuming that an employer has a legitimate interest in restricting an employee’s actions, the employer has that right.

        In this particular case it seems that MSNBC did not have a clear policy, nor did it impose it evenly. Set that aside.

        If MSNBC wants to tell all its employees, including Keith, that they cannot contribute to campaigns, then MSNBC has that right and power.

        If that troubles any of the employees, they can resign.

        That is the reality of it all. News orgs have a legitimate interest in seeming unconnected to politics. If they want to do it, they can. If they don’t care, they don’t have to.

        That is the boss’s decision.

        • AdLib says:

          Hi Kev. I agree with what you say though as Khirad points out, would anyone reasonably describe KO’s show as an objective news show, requiring a prohibition on the host appearing partisan? From what I’m gathering, this policy was an NBC News policy, not an MSNBC policy.

          Hard to see this as not agenda oriented, whether it’s a personal feud on Griffin’s behalf or a political manuver.

          After all, why would it be okay for KO to aggressively display a partisan, pro-Dem persona every day verbally but when he does so quietly in a financial way, it undermines his impartiality?

          In any case, this has worked out favorably for him and gave a black eye to Griffin and NBC.

          • KevenSeven says:

            I really cannot answer you questions, except to say that a news org can insist that its employees, including editorialists, not engage in politics outside the office.

            NPR has people who profess opinions on air, and are expected to abide by the same policies as are the other employees.

            The same holds true for most of the serious media.

            As for what happened here and who was actually at fault, I am not prepared to accept any particular judgment on the matter. I am quite prepared to believe that Olbermann could have prevented it blowing up and instead told Griffin to stuff it. This despite what Keith says.

            I like him a lot, but I think he has a very stiff neck.

  5. boomer1949 says:

    For Everyone’s Information… MSNBC is not NBC News. Shouldn’t the guy in charge have a better understanding of company policy and to whom it applies?

    Keith Olbermann Appreciative of Supporters, Stands Firm Against MSNBC’s Inconsistency (UPDATED )

    As had been shown a couple of days ago on Gawker.com, the whole Keith Olbermann debacle unraveled quickly to demonstrate that the journalistic standards being applied to KO haven’t been applied to MSNBC at all……even according to their own Standards department. Why? Because MSNBC isn’t NBC News, and hasn’t been measured by the same journalistic standard for quite some time.

    And today, NY Times quoted an open statement that Olbermann has made, both about the incident, and about his response to the massive support he got from many corners to have him reinstated. (…more…)

  6. VegasBabe says:

    I don’t get why there’s so much KO hate in your post girlfriend. More often than not, he IS an Obama supporter so why so much rancor? I didn’t sign any petition for him, but I certainly would have. With the O’Reilly’s, Glendduh’s, Insanities and let’s not forget rushlimpbisket getting away with anything seemingly they want, KO is clearly far more friend than foe to libs and progressives. And the clause in his contract is ludicrous and I could see him missing it on first read, especially with the loot being offered for the job which, btw, is a mere FRACTION of what the other pundits mentioned earned. Obama had a bad week. He’s not the messiah, and it’s ok to criticize him when appropriate. There are a few of us beginning to wish Obama would grow a bigger pair, get nastier and tougher which for the most part is what KO frequently demands of him. Having said all of that, your still an Obama supporter and though I can’t agree with this post, you remain awight with me! 😉

  7. AdLib says:

    So, KO did apologize for contributing to this situation…but similarly criticized the dishonesty and hypocrisy of NBC in how they handled it.

    Here is his letter:

    “A Statement to the Viewers of Countdown”

    • KevenSeven says:

      I’m not certain that I am prepared to take the entirety of the second paragraph as true on its face.

      In other words, could KO be fibbing? I think he is a bull-headed guy. I like him a lot, but I think he is a bull-headed guy (being one, I should know them when I see them).

      So I am not prepared at this point to buy into an explanation that leaves Keith without some responsibility for this mess.

    • Khirad says:

      It is when they find out through the media and not a call or some other form of direct communication that I find real dickish. True, we only have Keith’s word here, but it’s happened enough in the past enough for me to believe it.

    • Questinia says:

      Who on earth ever reads fine print?

      Phil Griffin is a d-wad.

      • KevenSeven says:

        The guy has a 7 million dollar contract.

        He either has an attorney read it or he is ungodly stupid.

        And I don’t think Keith is ungodly stupid, do you?

        If he did not read the fine print, that is his own fault, and is no excuse.

      • AdLib says:

        This is one Griffin that has the head of an ass and two right wings.

    • bitohistory says:

      Thank You, Adlib,
      Oh those pesky facts.

      When a website contacted NBC about one of the
      donations, I immediately volunteered that there were in fact three of them; and
      contrary to much of the subsequent reporting, I immediately volunteered to
      explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired.

      • AdLib says:

        My pleasure, bito! What is kind of bewildering…did Griffin and Co. really think that their dishonesty and hypocrisy would not be exposed by KO…whose show is all about exposing dishonesty and hypocrisy?

        Do they even watch their own channel?

        It’s actually kind of amusing!

        • bitohistory says:

          Here is one of those “facts” so widely reported in other articles.

          BEHIND THE CURTAIN: 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

  8. Chris- The Fold says:

    ABSOLUTELY!! Pretty much what I said too, except I was a little shorter.

    http://www.thefoldblog.com/2010/11/why-i-dont-care-about-keith-olbermann.html

    Glad I found this place. I’m going to have to link it.

  9. boomer1949 says:

    [img][/img]

  10. Marion says:

    Let’s do a little experiment. One of my hypotheses (and the one I actually believe to be true) is that this whole thing was a contrived occurrence, with Olbermann’s connivance, to drive a point home to the public in demostrating the basic, ethical difference between MSNBC and Fox.

    Olbermann was the only opinionator with whom this could be done, if you think about it. He doesn’t vote. Someone like Matthews and Schultz have mouths bigger than their egos, and the plot would be out before it began.

    Olbermann “breaks” the rules, with MSNBC’s knowledge, gets suspended and told not to say anything until he hears from them, Rachel gives her explanatory comment, the aim of which is to drive the point home that MSNBC is a proper news organisation which punishes its personnel for crossing the overt political Rubicon; Fox encourages overt political involvement of its news-and-opinion staff.

    The hoi-polloi react in kind, with petitions and great vent.

    MSNBC announces that Olbermann’s back on air on Tuesday; Olbermann respond to his dittoes via tweets with thanks.

    Mission accomplished. MSNBC’s won, because it’s made its point; Olbermann’s won, because his ratings go up; the peasants have won because they think their action has toppled the mighty corporate management at MSNBC, but it really hasn’t -- because they’ve been pwned and used by said corporation to achieve an end.

    Pretty Machiavellian, eh?

    Let’s watch KO tomorrow night. If neither he nor Phil Griffin offer any sort of apology before or during that broadcast, I think it’s safe to say my hypothesis is correct,and the public have been tango’d to Boehner level.

    • bitohistory says:

      Quite a few assumptions one would have to accept, Marion. I have gotten in many a sticky situations by assuming, but that may just me, I have a thing about facts.

    • AdLib says:

      Sometimes conspiracy theories can turn out to be sadly accurate, though I do think Occam’s Razor has proven to be more frequently reliable in such situations.

      I would instead propose that things are just as they seem, NBC found out KO made contributions and were motivated for one of the reasons proposed below (or another) to sanction him for it.

      I would wager that he will provide some kind of apology on his return, even if it is just to say that he shouldn’t have signed an employment agreement with such restraints in it for an opinion show host.

      • bitohistory says:

        I am getting a bit dismayed with all of the stories floating about with no or poor sourcing, he said and she saids, what ifs and maybes.
        Speculations seem to trump facts without even seeing the cards. And just who did shoot JFK?

        • AlphaBitch says:

          I don’t know who shot JFK, but one of our dearest family friends was a Dallas motorcycle cop in the motorcade at the time. Oh, the stories I could tell!!!!

          Not sure who shot JFK, but pretty sure the whole kit and kaboodle helped cover it up and deflect the facts.

  11. Questinia says:

    I had dinner with KO two weeks ago. No, I was not the only one at the table 😉

    A) No one has forgotten about the election. Go most any place to find that out.

    B) KO spoke about just this. KO simply does not play corporate politics. He doesn’t care about the machinations of MSNBC. The person who suspended KO has a personal beef. What happens to people who don’t play by the rules in corporations? That’s right… As far as I’m concerned KO did something more of us ought to do when it comes time to corporate think.

    C) KO has a healthy ego, not a too big one. The only thing big about KO are his hands, feet, and size. He’s like 6’5” and his hands are like mitts. But he is as joyful as a kid.

    D) KO is very independent minded. He knows very well he can get another job, if he wants one. He said this. He DOES NOT CARE! This is the only thing you got right, Marion.

    E) Keith is not a hack. KO is not a corporate toady. He is genuine. He may have six writers, but his voice is pretty much his own.

    The only thing this article says is what you appear to project upon KO. But that is all most of us have when contemplating public figures, personas and their dramas. We certainly projected massively onto Obama. Look what’s happening there.

    • escribacat says:

      Questinia — What you say about KO confirms my impression of him. He comes off like a real guy who loved his dad, believes what he says and says what he believes. He also acknowledges it when he realizes he went too far. We need him to offset the Fox harangue — and he does it very well. Sometimes I mute him, but for the most part, I find him inspirational in a way that no other public figure is inspirational.

    • bitohistory says:

      Thank you for your personal knowledge, Q. So much informative than “inside sources say…..” “News” today is so often like the game of ‘gossip’ that I learned in Sunday school, proving the harm it can lead to others. (you youngsters may know the game by the name of ‘telephone’ 😉 )

      • Questinia says:

        I know it by the name “Chinese Whispers” 😉

        • bitohistory says:

          OOOOHHHH, I like that one, Q. You must be ancient. 😉

          • Questinia says:

            During the Nineteenth Century, as a young girl, I’d play Chinese Whispers along with Dumb Crambough, which those of you mortals born in the 20th, may know as Charades.

            Seriously, I was a docent at a Washington Irving’s Sunnyside as a teenager where we amused the tourists by playing parlor games.

            Try playing Blow The Feather in a hoop skirt!!

    • PepeLepew says:

      You know Keith is very much his own man because he has really bounced around during his career, from ESPN to Fox, back to ESPN, then to MSNBC, then back to Fox, then back to MSNBC. He was told by ESPN many years ago that his big problem is he “has too much backbone.”

      You gotta love a guy like this. He’s a rebel.

      • Questinia says:

        He said doing the World’s Series was as far as he could take it. It was when thinking that someone should write a response to something McCain said or did, that he thought “I should” that he got into the whole shtick we see today.

        Who knows? There may have been a bit of publicity in all of this. Who cares? It’s THAT world.

  12. Marion says:

    250,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Olbermann be put back on air. They want Olbermann to know they “have his back.”

    Our President faces the stiffest challenge of his political career during the next two years. Something similar from as many people would have been more mete, in my opinion; but then I don’t need ex-sportscasters-turned-opinionated hacks who don’t vote but who use their public platform to influence others’ opinions.

    And, by the way, Olbermann was offered a chance to avoid suspension by doing an on-air mea culpa and admitting his mistake. He refused, stating that he was unaware that this clause was in his contract.

    How can you sign a contract WITHOUT reading it first?

    Guess he was blinded by the phrase $8 million dollars per annum,” huh?

    Last week, I watched a President, after his Party was defeated at the polls, face a press corps who were blatantly and openly disrespectful, almost gleefully addressing him as if he were the de facto Affirmative Action President. It was disgusting.

    I seem to recall Keith had some pretty gratuitous and disrespectful criticisms to make of the President at various times, himself. Anyone recall the first Oval Office speech?

    He’s part of the problem, and he’s got our back; the President is working 24/7 to solve our problems, and Keith’s plight is more important?

    Someone’s priorities are all wrong.

    • Questinia says:

      KO was teaching high school level math in the third grade. His IQ is not one of a hack.

      I think if you put Gandhi on MSNBC, he could appear like a hack. The medium, not the man, is the message.

      You’re being kind of mean here, Marion. I know you like to show disdain toward people in your posts and I generally don’t mind the rancor but… sorry! I do think you’re a dynamite writer.

      Keith may have more people having his back because he HAS gotten angry on behalf of the American public. Obama has not. Obama has NOT inspired people to come to him in his hour of need on account of his tepid nature during our hour of need. If Obama showed the same degree of indignation that you show in this post, most all in America would have his back in a countdown! 🙂

      • AdLib says:

        Gandhi’s getting a talk show on MSNBC? Cool! He could have a segment, “Most Protestable Governments in the World”.

        As I mentioned, I think the same people supporting KO have been and are supporting Pres. Obama.

        During the primary, I was very frustrated with Obama for not being more aggressive in response to Hilary’s attacks but in the end, it proved successful.

        Not by design but what if Obama’s first two years have set him up to pivot now in a way that turns the public against the more hostile and belligerent GOP in 2012 in favor of the more reasoned Obama?

        Political judo may turn out to be the wisest strategy, using one’s opponent’s weight (and insanity) against them could work well.

        I assumed wrong before, that fighting fire with fire was the smartest path, I’m prepared to be proven wrong again.

        And I do think Obama’s popularity and support will rebound as the GOP wreaks its havoc in the House.

        • Questinia says:

          But it’s the public who is insane!

          When Obama said people were failing to “think clearly” because they’re “scared” about the economy… DOH!

          What a dumb bunny! It may be true, but he’s not thinking it though. Arugula moment.

          Judo doesn’t always work against nitro-funny USA! USA! USA! Monster Trucks… OH YEAH!

        • AlphaBitch says:

          OT -- but maybe he and God could do a bit together on “Salt: Not Just for Your Wife’s Prying Eyes Anymore”. Talk to the Big Guy -see what he says.

      • bitohistory says:

        Were not people praising him during the election and the “TARP” conference for his cool,collected nature? If the unemployment figures fall to 6% will he be praised once again for his cool and even manner?
        Quick (with out looking it up) what was the unemployment rate in March 2009, before any of Obama’s policies had taken any affect?

    • AdLib says:

      I’d bet that most of the 250,000 people who have KO’s back also had Obama’s back in last week’s election and were likely among the most involved and activist in this year’s election. Participating in one would seem to me to prove more likely participation in the other.

      As all the polls and surveys show, it is the Independent/Swing Voters who flocked to the GOP last week, not Dems and I would hazard to guess that they don’t comprise a great deal of KO’s audience. I also would doubt that the Purist Dems who have been opposing Obama for not giving them their every wish, make up much of KO’s mostly pro-Obama audience.

      Also, just a week ago, the GOP rallied together to attack and vow to shut down NPR by killing all government funding because they fired Juan Williams, a Fox News contributor. The GOP made clear, this is what happens to the corporations that own news organizations that displease us.

      Whether we agree or disagree about this incident with KO being part and parcel of what we’re facing, I do think we are on the same page when it comes to what happened in the election and the urgency of standing up to support Pres. Obama and to oppose and confront the GOP/corporate nihilist agenda.

    • bitohistory says:

      Marion, do you have a source for “Olbermann was offered a chance to avoid suspension by doing an on-air mea culpa and admitting his mistake. He refused….” That is news to me.

  13. whatsthatsound says:

    Marion, I think I know what happened here. Although I realize your choice of title was a play on the line about Obama not being anyone’s boyfriend (and actually quite clever), I think by using a personal pronoun some readers here might feel as if they are being preached to. Which in turn, invites a, perhaps, stronger reply than might otherwise have occurred, which, again, in turn, results in you feeling besieged and becoming defensive in your replies.

    A lot of life is just knowing how to step back. Your piece stands on its own, there to be agreed with or disagreed with. When the latter, no reason to take it personally or make it personal.

  14. AdLib says:

    As always, I appreciate your bold POV. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t but the diversity of people and opinions here is what makes The Planet vibrant and thought provoking.

    That said, by stipulating that each of us is expressing our opinion, we can acknowledge that those of different opinions are not less sensible or reasonable than ourselves simply because they have an opposing perspective. However, if they are claiming taxes can be cut, job growth can be stimulated and the deficit can be reduced simultaneously, their opinion can indeed be logically dissembled.

    As to your proposition, I see things a bit differently. I think there is a direct connection between the Progressive community’s ongoing concern about the new balance of power and the recent suspension of KO.

    Let’s consider what happened just after the 2004 election right after Bush won re-election. Dan Rather was fired. Yes, he did present a story about Bush evading service in the Air National Guard, which, though it still appears to be true and has never been legitimately contradicted, was based on a letter that turned out to be a fraud. What was proven was that it was not Rather but another CBS News associate who dropped the ball on verifying this.

    Was Rather fired right after the election because of CBS’ commitment to its principles? Was he fired because CBS had legislative issues it sought support from Bush on?

    What we can say is that there is precedent showing that in most instances, journalists are not fired for the negligence of their associates. How many news anchors lost their jobs for falsely reporting that Iraq had WMDs?

    So, the issue is not that NBC had no right to take action against KO for his violating their rules, it is a question of what their true motivation is for enforcing them when they did and how they did.

    The issue is also, why they felt it necessary to sanction an opinion show host for using his political contributions to support the identical opinions he expresses on his show. I mean, is someone’s consistent verbal support of Progressive candidates on his opinion program not undermining NBC’s integrity but his financial support is? Frankly, if NBC finds it inappropriate for its opinion show hosts to express support for Dem or Repub candidates, they should fire all of them, KO, Rachel, Ratigan, Joe, O’Donnell, Matthews, etc.

    This is a joke, it is hypocrisy and that’s what many of us are talking about. All here well know I despise Fox but Fox’s lack of rules are at least logical. Yes, they are partisan and they support the GOP and their corporation and employees are permitted to do so however they wish.

    Fox admits by doing so, “We are not presenting news, we are presenting opinion.” Meanwhile, NBC is being dishonest and is trying to have it both ways. “We have partisan opinion show hosts…but they’re really impartial journalists!”

    Just because a corporation can be hypocritical because they have contractual agreements that allow them to be, it may be legal for them to sanction others but it doesn’t make them “right” or “principled” for doing so.

    I think there are many out there similar to me, who are concerned about this, not because we worry for the well being of Olbermann but because of what it may represent in MSNBC’s sensibilities and what it may portend for corporate sensibilities in 2011.

    Prior to this incident, I have written here frequently about how I have recognized an ongoing shift to the right in the reporting at MSNBC. This incident may be unrelated but it is not inconsistent with the rightward shift of the network.

    This is why I think you’ve overlooked what’s really going on with the people who are concerned over this. There are those of us who remember 2004 and America after 9/11, when the perception was that the GOP had the public’s support at their back and opposing them or being viewed unfavorably by them was perceived as a serious mistake. Corporations, including GE, have many things they want funded by Congress (especially defense) and many bills they would want Congress to support or oppose that would benefit them.

    I think we can agree that neither of us would view the news-making actions of a corporation as unrelated to what they think is best for them. Perhaps they think this was best for them solely to underline their journalistic objectivity. Perhaps they see it as more beneficial to their dealings with an empowered GOP in Congress that has had a huge victory in this election and will be deciding on defense contracts and all kinds of legislation affecting NBC.

    Personally, when it comes to the corporate media, I am less inclined to accept altruistic motivations. As a corporation, they literally can be sued for placing altruism above profits.

    Ultimately, IMO, the concern of some Progressives over this matter is completely about the election and the threat the GOP represents, to our society and democracy. I don’t think Progressives have moved on from that or are distracted by this, I think many see this as a possible sign of a potential return to the lockstep GOP allegiance corporations had under Bush.

  15. Kalima says:

    He might be a millionaire, but I hardly think that has anything to do with the fact that he was made an example of by a network that has been leaning predominately to the right for quite some time now. Why just go after Olbermann when without a doubt there are others with the network who have done exactly the same thing?

    He might not be perfect, and at times gets on my nerves for going overboard, but for many Progressives, Libs and Dems, he represented the thoughts that they shared with him about the political process, the treachery and lies of the GOP and the TP. We all might be able to speak for ourselves as you say, but we could never reach the number of listeners or viewers that he reached every weekday, that’s why we have sites like The Planet. Come to think of it, just how many loud progressive voices are still out there in tvland, nowhere near as many as on the right. The media is slowly but surely suffocating the liberal voice, for all his warts and scars, KO was a consistent voice for calling out the bs on the tv, and for that you can’t help but admire him.

    Yes he broke their silly rules, but those rules were self serving, and I don’t believe that any corporation has the right to control what people do as a private citizen, just my pov.

    The NBC company have an agenda, they certainly didn’t have to make it public knowledge thereby enabling him to be humiliated in this way considering the climate of non-disclosure of millions of dollars for negative ads this year, what Olbermann did, is just a storm in a teacup gone viral. Shame on msnbc.

    I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but KO going after The Chamber of Commerce the way I’m glad that he and Rachel did, might have made him quite a few new enemies in the cesspool of the rich corporations, and their clandestine agendas. Who knows, they certainly didn’t join his Tweet fan club, that’s for sure.

    • Marion says:

      P S … and you know, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and -- corporation-stink aside (because no matter WHO owns NBC/MSNBC, they’ll ALWAYS be a corporation), an employee broke a contractual rule.

      At the end of the day, the C in BBC stands for “Corporation”, and even though it’s “owned” by the taxpayers’ enforced licence fee (we have to pay roughly $300 per annum to have a television in our homes or risk imprisonment, all of that revenue going to the Beeb), more than a few inhabitants of Britain resent the EIGHT-figure salaries handed down to some of the Beeb’s biggest names. Jonathan Ross was the biggest. He committed a major contractual faux pas and got suspended, then left.

    • Marion says:

      But you ARE big on conspiracy theories and you’re thinking with your gut, just like Bush. Just like the Fox dittoes.

      You didn’t get the point of the blog at all, which is absolutely no surprise whatsoever.

      Olbermann is in breach of contract. Whether NBC (the parent company) is in the wrong or not, is a moot point. When corporations such as television networks write contracts, they have their own in-house legal team go over them with a fine-toothed comb.

      There’s a difference in NBC requesting that all news and opinion personnel refrain from contributing to political parties/candidates unless they receive permission beforehand from management and McDonald’s telling employees how to vote.

      A news organisation is supposed to maintain a veneer of impartiality, even if it’s obvious that it’s skewed to the Right or the Left. Walter Cronkite got in mega trouble in 1968 for deviating off form and telling the public that the Viet Nam war was wrong and unwinnable, after having spent a week in the country. And, until he retired from CBS, no one had any inkling whatsoever that he was a Democrat.

      My husband worked for the British Civil Service for 30 years. Whatever way he voted was his business, but he was NOT allowed to join ANY British political party. That was a condition of his contract. The idea is that the British Civil Service serves the Crown and stays in place whichever government is calling the shots. Join the Labour or Conservative parties and you cease to become apolitical and you’re out on your ass.

      Olbermann broke the rules, for whatever reason. As Rachel said on Friday night, this was nothing to do with Scarborough’s previous contribution -- no one knows the details about that; he either obtained permission if the contribution were made after the contractual change in 2007, or he made the contribution before in 2006. It’s nothing to do with favouritism. Olbermann is MSNBC’s big dog at the moment, and he has previous form in acting like a diva in his previous reincarnations.

      NO network is going to impose sanctions on its big star unless there’s a serious breach.

      If you went back and read what I wrote with your mind instead of with your spleen, you might pick up a few things -- like the network had maybe agreed that Keith would do this, then they’d suspend him as a salutory lesson for the public to learn and see: THAT MSNBC IS A NEWS ORGANISATION WHICH DOESN’T SANCTION OPEN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATES OR POLITICAL PARTIES, WHILST FOX -- WHICH DOES THIS -- IS ACTING MORE AS A PAC FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

      Funny enough, when the President pointed this out a year ago, the networks, including Olbermann at MSNBC, closed ranks and defended Fox to the hilt against the President’s assumption. If that’s the case, then Olbermann is on the receiving end of some karma.

      On the other hand, Rachel’s the rising star on the firmament; and Olbermann’s got an ego as big as the Empire State and a definite misogyny problem. This could easily be a stunt on his part, to enable him to leave for CNN, who’ve courted him off and on since 2006, and to drum up fever pitch amongst his diehard fans, who’ll decamp with him to CNN. Jon Klein pitched mega bucks to Olbermann about the move in 2006, promising him he’d destroy MSNBC if he left, and Olbermann was ready to jump ship until the top man at CNN poo-poohed the idea.

      This is all politics of illusion, and most of the people on MSNBC, like Fox, are salesmen. You pitch them enough money and they’ll switch sides soon enough.

      I find it incongruous that Olbermann can contribute money to Democratic candidates, but can’t be assed to vote. I was raised, by Democratic parents, to believe that voting was your civic duty, that if you didn’t vote, you didn’t have a voice -- that if you didn’t vote, you’d no right to criticize any serving government, because your non-vote enabled them.

      I find it doubly insulting that a news organisation would give the bully pulpit to someone who doesn’t vote, yet has the opportunity five nights a week to influence opinions of people who do.

      But then, maybe the political contributions eased Keith’s troubled mind; after all, his non-vote means he tacitly approves of John Boehner as Speaker-of-the-House, and he’s, therefore, standing accused of straddling both sides of the fence.

      I would imagine that’s physically uncomfortable.

      • Questinia says:

        This response toward Kalima just threw your POV into the toilet. The gauge is way too far on the side of disdainful.

      • Kalima says:

        There is absolutely no reason to become insulting just because I don’t agree with your take on this. I gave my pov about the situation, and pointed out that just because you make a point of him being rich, has nothing whatsoever to do with this story although you tried to make it one.

        “But you ARE big on conspiracy theories and you

  16. caleb36 says:

    I disagree with this line of argument. The reason MSNBC gave for Olbermann’s suspension was a mere pretext. MSNBC could easily have overlooked Olbermann’s minor violation of company rules. Clearly, there is a move afoot by either the current owners of MSNBC, General Electric and Microsoft, or its soon-to-be owner, Comcast, to either completely change the station’s dominant liberal orientation or at least intimidate its liberal anchors such as Olbermann, Maddow and Schultz from freely exppressing their opinions.

    Marion, you refer to “the fact that a dangerous Republican party with a virulently reactionary Rightwing has just taken control of the House of Representatives.” Do you really think this event is unrelated to Obermann’s suspension? Given the timing of the suspension immediately following the election, it is highly probable that the events are closely connected. Either the owners of MSNBC are currying favor with the newly empowered political right, or they are riding the conservative wave as a cover to initiate a purge of progressives on the station.

    It is a straw man argument that because other fifty-somethings are losing their jobs each day, we should not give Olbermann’s situation special attention. The overriding question here is whether the corporate media will allow any progressive voices to remain on the airwaves. If we want an economy where the other fifty-somethings have a possibility of finding good new jobs at decent wages, alternatives to the current, dog-eat-dog corporate welfare system must be explored. And for this, we need progressive voices such as Olbermann’s.

    Another most disturbing aspect of Olbermann’s pretext suspension is the chilling effect it has on First Amendment freedoms. Olbermann made his (relatively small) monetary contributions to candidates for political office on his own time, using his own money. He was expected under company rules to get permission from his boss before doing so. From a technical legal standpoint, there may not have been an actionable First Amendment violation, as MSNBC is a private enterprise and state action was not involved (although a contrary argument can be made that the First Amendment was violated through the laws that condoned MSNBC’s company policy). It is clear, however, that the spirit of the First Amendment, which calls for unfettered expression of political support in a free marketplace of ideas, has been grossly violated by MSNBC, and that the ripple effects of this action will spread far beyond Olbemann’s suspension.

    I do not for a moment believe, as you suggest, that MSNBC contrived the suspension with the connivance of Olbermann. The harshness of the penalty meted out to Olbermann for a minor infraction of company policy, its suddenness, and its indefinite character were calculated to shame Olbermann before the viewing public. Psychologically, if for no other reason, it will be very difficult for him to resume his old format as if nothing had happened.

    Finally, I join many others in expressing anger and disappointment at Rachel Maddow for standing with management in supporting Olbermann’s suspension. To my mind, her credentials as a fair-minded, progressive journalist have been irreparably tarnished. Either out of fear or ambition, she has betrayed her supposed friend, the man responsible for her current anchor position. The person she reminds me most of now is the liberal Hollywood director Elia Kazan, who named names before the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952 during the Communist witch hunts. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had a far better take on Olbermann’s suspension than did Maddow. He called it outrageous.

    • KevenSeven says:

      Um. MSNBC has a perfect right to restrict the political expression of any of its employees, including Keith.

      It is very much common practice in Journalism.

    • Marion says:

      It’s not a MINOR infringement of rules. It’s a contractual breech. And you have no right to lump Rachel Maddow in with any sort of hazy conspiracy theory. I think that lady has enough integrity to refuse to be forced to say anything. She’s a reasonable person and makes all her points with logical common sense and fact, which is what she did Friday night.

      YOU are the one invoking strawman arguments with a reference to McCarthy. News organisations and their employees do NOT make open financial contributions to political parties or candidates. It makes a mockery of their ethical situation. If you are comfortable with MSNBC becoming a PAC for the Democratic Party, then you’ve just sounded the death knell for the First Amendment properly, which provides for a free and RESPONSIBLE press.

      By the way, of ALL the opinion journalists on MSNBC, Olbermann was the ONLY one to have written into his personal contract, that he would have NO guest on his show who had a differing political opinion from his own. He simply cannot tolerate differing opinons. For someone who’s a part of the media, isn’t that more than exclusive in First Amendment terms.

      As I said, Olbermann doesn’t vote, and that’s a FACT. Far more common sense to simply vote Democratic and privately and leave the political contributions out of the situation, or else, play by the books and get your management’s approval. Odds are, management would have approved the contributions.

      • caleb36 says:

        There is no question that Olbermann’s suspension represents a selective enforcement of his contract by MSNBC. The station was free to ignore his violation of the contract terms, or levy a much smaller penalty. Their clear purpose, however, was to cut Olbermann down to size, and set an example for others.

        Contrary to your assertion, Marion, I’m not tying Rachel Maddow in with “hazy conspiracy theories.” She said what she said, and explicitly sided with the action MSNBC management took against Olbermann. Worse, she tried to cover her tracks with a self-righteous declaration that “we’re not Fox News.” No, MSNBC isn’t Fox News, but that too, is a straw man in this affair.

        The provision you cite in Olbermann’s contract that he will have no guest with contrary views is certainly distasteful from a free speech perspective. But the big issue here is not Olbermann’s personal tolerance of dissent. The issue is, rather, whether American news media is to become a bought-and-paid-for operation parroting only the views of the ruling corporate establishment. As imperfect as the programs anchored by Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann, or Rachel Maddow may be, they provide the public with one of the only windows still available on television to the progressive universe. Olbermann’s suspension is an ominous indicator that this window is about to be closed, a development that surely runs counter to the spirit of the First Amendment.

        One correction to my original post: Elia Kazan appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952, not Senator Joseph McCarthy’s investigating committee. Correction made on original post.

  17. Khirad says:

    He knew the rules, and whatever. I get that.

    It’s an idiotic rule, however. If he ever had pretended to be a straight newsman, sure, huge conflict and ethical territory. But, he’s clearly not. So, what’s the big friggin’ deal? I think on the other side of the coin there’s been drummed up “outrage” as if this should be shocking. I know CNN was trying to present it as such (which does make me wonder, now that you mention it…). They were right in that it was a bit hypocritical, But, it still approaches nowhere near the amount Hannity & Co. and donated. Maybe that is the reason for the no tolerance policy. As stated, there is a point to that.

    In any case, he’s not my boyfriend, but having in some small part helped (in addition to all the small donations, volunteers, etc.) my district’s candidate win a nail-biter against a knuckledragger, he has my personal thanks nonetheless. I can’t help but admit some personal appreciation for that. And if he took one for the team, so be it. I say it was well worth it. But, well, I’m biased given which candidates he donated to. In fact it almost redeems him a little from taking such self-unaware (one of his traits) affront to Jon Stewart.

    And one thing Stewart also criticized was this knee-jerk reaction to firing people lately. If it does turn out to merely be a suspension or all a ruse of some kind, fine. But I’m getting a little tired of news organizations without a backbone, or, like NPR, cowed into being seen as “liberal” from going to Stewart’s rally, etc. Yeah, they should be above such things, unlike FOX whom produced their own Tea Party rallies, but it just becomes farcical what lengths are gone to out of such fear of appearances. Atwater has won.

    • Marion says:

      There used to be something called “press impartiality.” It went out the window when Reagan repealed the Fairness Doctrine.

      And that’s when all this shit started hitting the fan.

      We used to have one of the best and most responsible news medias in the world. I sat last week and watched a BBC documentary about the Teabaggers in the US. To see the extent with which our news media is now held in derision, not just by the BBC but by the Italian, German and French news media, is shameful. MSNBC and FOX would simply not be allowed to function in the way they do anywhere else in the world. Even Murdoch’s SKY in Britain is, basically, a straight news organisation.

      • Khirad says:

        But, I’m not an expert on these matters, does the Fairness Doctrine apply to cable?

        • Marion says:

          The Fairness Doctrine applied to any NEWS broadcast aired via analogue or cable. When Reagan threw this out the window, CNN was the only 24/7 news organisation around. So, yes, it would have applied.

          The ditching of the Fairness Doctrine gave rise to infotainment.

  18. bitohistory says:

    You are not getting an argument from me, Marion. I have been saying this since he got suspended. He is a big boy and has been in broadcasting for many years. He knows the clauses, the rules and he broke them. Once it became public knowledge (did he not tell Politico?), what did he expect corporate do? I have knowledge of people getting fired for using office supplies and making making copies for a political campaign, yet he is different ’cause he’s a good guy and on the tube? I have been in the position where I had to lay-off people, some ‘nice guys’ because the effing broke rules.
    I will miss his voice and thoughts, for awhile, but I shed no tears. (If he would send me a week of his salary, I may think of it.)


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