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The Fishy Things About the Olbermann Suspension

Posted by libhom Friday, November 05, 2010

Here is typical corporate media coverage of MSNBC's suspension of centrist commentator, Keith Olbermann from ABC News (bolding mine).

MSNBC has suspended anchor Keith Olbermann, after it was revealed the "Countdown" host made political contributions to three Democratic candidates.

Politico reported Friday that Olbermann contributed to the candidates in the run-up to Tuesday's midterm elections, making a donation to Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva on the same day he appeared on the cable news show.

In a statement, MSNBC said its ethics policy bans journalists from making political contributions. Olbermann, perhaps the cable network's most famous face, is known as an outspoken liberal commenter. As one of the network's highest-paid personalities, he is central to the network's "Lean Forward" campaign, a rebranding effort promoting progressive points of view.

Of course, Olbermann is actually a centrist, not a liberal. Labeling centrists as liberals is common corporate media tactic to narrow the range of debate. Also, MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews is a conservative who did everything short of endorsing John "Keating Five" McCain on air in 2008, and he was part of the rebranding effort.

However, let's return to the text I bolded. The statement from GE owned NBC News was different in a very significant way. (Again, bolding mine - Hat Tip, indirectly: Mark Crispin Miller)
Like most news organizations, NBC News, parent of msnbc TV, prohibits political contributions by its journalists without prior approval of the president. (Msnbc.com, a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft, also has a policy against its journalists contributing to political campaigns.)

"Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the NBC News policy reads. “Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial positions. You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the president of NBC News or his designee."

Hrrrmmmmm..."without prior approval of the president." If NBC News is so concerned about "potential conflicts," then why is it OK to make those contributions with the permission of an executive beholden to General Electric, a rightist corporation that profits off of war? If the appearance of bias was the concern, the same rules would apply to all contributions, with permission or not. In fact, contributions with executive approval give an even greater appearance of bias.

Of course, the whole idea that NBC News is concerned with being "impartial" is laughable. If they were, NBC Nightly News wouldn't be so obnoxiously rightist and propagandistic that watching it is the metaphorical equivalent of being hit on the head with a 2x4. Also, why does Joe Scarborough, a former Republican member of Congress and someone on the extreme right fringe, have the morning slot on MSNBC? (By the way, when is there going to be a Special Prosecutor to investigate the murder of Lori Klausutis?)

Then, there's the Today Show. Not only is the "news coverage" slanted hugely to the extreme right, but so are the guest bookings. That program showed the extent of its right fringe bias when it hired the grotesquely unqualified daughter of George W. Bush.

When cable TV, as well as network TV, is such a cesspool of rightist propaganda, dishonesty, hypocrisy, racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should I pay to get it back? Why would I want to pay for a network owned by the war profiteering GE? Why should I care if I miss a network who brass lies about the reason they fired a politically moderate host who offended the corporate aristocracy by not being a knucklewalking rightist?

It turns out I'm not the only person who thinks this is a crock. As of the moment I'm typing this, over 95,000 people have signed an online petition to get MSNBC to end its suspension.

Cable TV deserves to be killed by the Internet.

Bullshit like this is also one of the reasons I refuse to buy GE light bulbs and appliances.



  1. Roedy Says:
  2. In Canada you may not sign away your civil rights in a contract any more than you can sign yourself into slavery. Surely the same is true in the USA. In other words, Keith Olbermann's contract is probably invalid.

    If GE can donate anonymously unlimited amounts of political money, if Iran can donate to the Republicans via the Chamber of Commerce, then surely Olbermann has the right to donate openly to whomever he pleases. It is not as though he derives any unfair advantage by doing that (as GE does).

    It is not even as if MSNBC is trying to maintain the fiction its opinion hosts are neutral.

    The way to fight is by writing hard copy letters to ALL of MSNBC's advertisers telling them you are boycotting until Olbermann is reinstated.

  3. Ahab Says:
  4. I really want to see where the Olbermann controversy goes -- if MSNBC will take him back, if there were ulterior motives for the suspension, etc.



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