"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Friday, November 5, 2010

MSNBC Wrong and Self-Destructive to Suspend Keith Olbermann

The news just broke that Keith Olbermann has been suspended from MSNBC, indefinitely and without pay, because he contributed money to three Democratic candidates in the election just past.

I don't know all the details - and I've been a critic of some of Olbermann's histrionic rants over the years - but suspending him for the reasons stated strikes me as an outrage.   For some reason, news media of all sorts cling to the myth that everything about them must be objective.   Certainly news itself should be reported accurately.  But aren't commentators like Olbermann supposed to have strong political opinions, and, if so, where is the problem in their putting their money with their mouths are - i.e., making monetary contributions to political campaigns they deem worthy?

MSNBC is already doing miserably in the ratings.  They do not understand the realities and public expectations of a 24/7 news and commentary station -  airing canned documentaries on weekends rather than live news, and, until recently, going for reruns in the 10pm prime time weekday spot.

Taking Olbermann out of the line-up will only make MSNBC sink faster.  And this action is evidence of the cloud-nine lack of touch with reality and ethics that apparently afflicts the powers that be at MSNBC.  I'm a Professor, and even I know that.

15-min podcast from me on this subject


ArchieLeach said...

I agree completely, Paul. I don't see how there could ever have been a question in anyone's mind that Olberman was speaking from a very biased perspective, and it's not as if he tried to hide that fact, so why is this an issue?

Like you, I often felt that he was way over the top, even when taking the same side as I might myself regarding an issue, but this is just ridiculous, and will only hurt the network. Maybe they are trying to go the Fox News 'Fair & Balanced' route...but nobody would buy that anymore than we do Fox's claim. So why? I just don't get it.

Robert K. Blechman said...


We viewers have operated under the illusion that our news sources were somehow independent of corporate influence when this has never been the case.

The journalism/corporate balance shifted in the 80's when CBS announced that ALL divisions, including news, would be expected to show a profit.

Go get 'em, Keith!

Jeff said...

Personally, I hate Olbermann. Nevertheless, I have to agree that the rule cited, when applied to an analyst of known political leanings (indeed, that's how they make money off him in the first place) makes little sense.

I noticed they suspended him without pay -- pretext for getting rid of him for what are essentially financial reasons?

Charlie said...

Bottom line is both companies have two very different sets of rules with it comes to political donations and if the roles were reversed, this discussion would go in a very different direction. There would be outcries of journalistic integrity because one has a policy that says “NO” and the other has a policy that says “policy? what’s that?”.
Why anyone here bothers to try and discuss this kind of stuff is beyond comprehension. Less that 5% of the regular posters here have an objective viewpoint, while the rest are so far in one direction or another, if it were boat it would be rocking port to starboard to port to starboard to port to starboard, etc.