The Huffington Post is reporting that MSNBC is suspending commentator Keith Olbermann indefinitely and without pay for contributing money to three Democratic candidates in this election cycle without permission and against NBC ethics standards.
Olbermann had contributed $2,400 each to Arizona members of Congress Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and Senate candidate Jack Conway of Kentucky. Apparently NBC allows its on-air staff to make political contributions so long as they obtain permission from NBC senior management, which Olbermann failed to do.
Mind, if MSNBC was afraid that once these campaign contributions were revealed that people might think Keith Olbermann might not be a fair and balanced news commentator, but rather liberally biased, the network would have been the last to figure this out. So, assuming that upper management at NBC is not totally brain dead, one has to search for the real reason that Olbermann is no longer working at MSNBC.
We can dispense with the “I’m shocked, shocked” that there is liberal bias going on at MSNBC. The cable news network is the most left-leaning in the United States, being at the opposite end of the divide by design from Fox News. Of course, Fox has a variety of on-air personnel with a variety of viewpoints, so the canard that it is right wing is somewhat wide of the mark. But MSNBC is relentlessly liberal in its approach to the news and its world view.
Unfortunately, this has meant that MSNBC’s ratings have consistently been in the cellar. Its primary market, the United States, is a center-right country, and is thus not very receptive to MSNBC’s form of journalism.
“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and various special events programming in which Olbermann had helped cover, such as the recent elections, has consistently gotten low ratings. To add insult to injury, for a left-leaning news commentator, Olbermann has been lampooned on Saturday Night Live by none other than Ben Affleck, as well as on “The Daily Show” by Jon Stewart. What is a career enhancer for a conservative is death to a liberal.
Olbermann had an on-air meltdown over the candidacy for the US Senate Scott Brown who eventually won Teddy Kennedy’s old Senate seat. Olbermann and Chris Matthews were suspended as political analysts during the 2008 presidential election.
So it could be that Keith Olbermann is being eased out with the political contributions being just the excuse, the low ratings and the on-air antics the reason. That leaves the question, who will replace Olbermann on “Countdown?”
If MSNC replaces Olbermann with an angry lefty Olbermann clone, the problem of low ratings will not be solved. Some are suggesting that NBC management should go hard to starboard and choose someone who is more to the right. Andrew Breitbart has been mentioned. If someone like that were to be chosen, then it will cause lots of consternation and angst and a lot of people will tune in.
Sources: Keith Olbermann SUSPENDED From MSNBC Indefinitely Without Pay, Danny Shea, The Huffington Post, November 5th, 2010
Ben Affleck Skewers Keith Olbermann on SNL, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, November 2nd, 2008
Jon Stewart Skewers Keith Olbermann, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, January 22nd, 2010
Scott Brown and Keith Olbermann’s on Air Meltdown, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, January 19th, 2010
MSNBC: Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews Out as Political Anchors, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, September 8th, 2008