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The Good News Behind The Olbermann Suspension

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Let’s start by being perfectly clear about Keith Olbermann’s suspension from MSNBC for his political contributions to Democrats. Being suspended “indefinitely” doesn’t mean forever.

Olbermann is one of MSNBC’s signature personalities, and his “Countdown” programs is one of the network’s flagships. It simply can’t afford to be parted from one of its bigger stars.

That said, it’s entirely appropriate for Olbermann to see some penalty for his transgression against NBC News policy.

Olbermann’s liberal colleague, Rachel Maddow, made the case for the policy Friday night on her own program.

Most journalists, almost instinctively, know that campaign contributions would create conflicts-of-interest, either perceived or reality.

I worked with a political reporter at a newspaper years ago who went so far as to abstain from voting, in pursuit of total objectivity.

Forgoing one’s citizenship in that way always struck me as taking things too far, but in all of my years as a professional journalist, I would never have thought to make to political contributions.

Full disclosure: the contributions I did make, during the 2004 campaign, were made when I was working for the federal government, and thought my days as a working reporter were behind me.

I offer that disclosure because it’s the right thing to do.

I also offer it because you could easily check up on me to see if I’m telling the truth.

That brings us to the larger point, here. The good news is that we can so easily find out what contributions that I, Olbermann, or anyone else have made, and to which causes or candidates.

It’s all there, thanks to the Internet and federal disclosure regulations.

It’s easy to get online to see where candidates are getting their campaign funds. Just visit opensecrets.org, and start searching.

Reporters in Washington, and across the country, use this valuable resources in their stories everyday. If Senator So-and-So, for instance, opposes a bill to hold BP accountable for its monster oil spill, it’s easy enough to find whether, and how much, the oil company contributed to that senator’s election campaigns.

Start with your own senators and congressional representative. Search their records, and find out which interests they might be beholden to.

But as completely open and transparent as campaign giving is for individual politicians, the total opposite is true for the the money that funds the third-party attack ads, like those that washed over the 2010 campaign like a tsunami.

Powerful organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can completely hide where it’s getting its fund for, for these ads — even if the money is coming from wealthy foreigners seeking to influence American elections.

If you see an attack ad on television, you should be able to get online and easily search who put that ad up, and the interests that paid for it.

That’s the goal behind a bill in Congress called the DISCLOSE Act, which would open up these third-party attacks to public scrutiny.

The House approved the legislation — but at the urging of powerful special interests — Senate Republicans have kept it bottled up in a filibuster.

When Olbermann gets back on the air, he should apologize for his error — and make enactment of the DISCLOSE Act a nightly crusade.

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About Scott Nance

  • To MS NBC. Until such time you see fit to reinstate Mr.Olbermann to his position, I hereby suspend you, indefinitely, from the pleasure of my viewership. So, it is stated. So, it is done.

  • Baronius


    “Hosts of Fox raise money on the air for Republican candidates. They endorse them explicitly. They use their Fox News profile to headline fundraisers. (missing) You are looking at a significant portion of the whole lineup of Republican presidential contenders for 2012. They can do that because there’s no rule against that as Fox. They run as a political operation. We’re not.”

    That’s four “main” points. MSNBC does the first two actions, as seen in that clip. She’s lying to say otherwise. You’re smart to defend her on the fourth “main” point, the presence of presidential hopefuls, because she’s telling the truth on that one.

    Or are you arguing that those endorsements weren’t explicit? And that the hosts only allowed and encouraged the candidates and staff to raise funds, but didn’t do any on-air fundraising themselves?

  • For those who didn’t see it last night, the surprisingly mellow Rachel Maddow interview with Jon Stewart still provided some thought-provoking differences of opinion. Too bad Jonny was sick!

  • Expressing an opinion you disagree with and lying are two very different things. Don’t be messin’ with my Rachel, bub.

    Her main point was that Fox has Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich and others on the payroll. And that while Olbermann breached an NBC rule about political donations, Fox doesn’t even bother to have such a rule. Hosts participate in fundraisers and give generously to PACs. Candidates are frequently allowed to ask for money on the air.

    The Tax Day Tea Party rallies, and Beck’s 9/12 gathering were not just reported on but promoted by Fox [even using the phrase “Fox Tea Party Rallies” and sending TV hosts to emcee them].

    Journalism with a point of view is one thing. Blatantly paying politicians, providing free advertising for political rallies, allowing politicians to campaign on ‘news’ shows’ — quite another.

  • Baronius

    “We’re not a political operation. Fox is. We’re a news operation.” This is an amusing look at how much of a liar Maddow really is.

  • Baronius

    On any given day, 99.8% of the country doesn’t watch MSNBC.

    Bar, where is this supposed Republican groundswell of support for earmarks?

  • Dynomite

    Maddow, much like 90% of the country don’t watch MSNBC. Here’s the proof. Hypocrites.

  • The response from the right was no better. There will be those who are against virtually every recommendation they make. They may be right, but no one is going to give away their particular sacred cows without a fight. You certainly can’t expect any pol to immediately stand up and proclaim it fine and dandy to slash SS or Medicare, or defense or whatever.

    BTW – I love the way that Reps are lining up in SUPPORT of earmarks now and claiming that opposing them is a DEMOCRAT notion! The sleazoid shitfaced lying gets deeper and deeper, and the wingnut dipwads eat it up. They have no memory and the Reps count on it.

  • I generally love Anthony Weiner. He will probably run for mayor of NYC or governor or senator some day. President, I doubt.

    But last night, Weiner and another plain-spoken legislator, Sen. Bernie Sanders, joined with Olbermann and Maddow [and, separately, Pelosi] in the general trashing of the unofficial recommendations from chairmen Simpson and Bowles of the presidential deficit reduction commission.

    That kind of one-sided, vein-popping hysteria serves little purpose. Yes, the recommendations included cuts and changes in Social Security and Medicare — but also tax increases and defense cuts.

    The only way the deficit/debt problem will get solved is to look at hard choices like that. The ridiculous knee-jerk reaction of liberals yesterday embarrassed and distressed me.

  • Cannon #90 – I agree with you about most of that, although I don’t think such scrutiny will be any more difficult for Dems than Reps.

    Just as with Pelosi, the right constantly points fingers at George Soros as some evil Machiavellian figure. Yes, he has money, and yes he comes from a liberal, progressive position. But there are any # of similar figures – more perhaps – on the right. That’s just the way it is.


  • Cannonshop

    #91 I suspect the reason the bulk of pols are marshmallow-in-tone yet crooked as hell, is that it’s easier to get elected if you don’t piss off the money-men, Zing.

    People with character, like Weiner, or McDermott, (or Palin) scare the everloving shit out the money-men, they prefer an Obama, or a Bush (Sr), someone whose personality, politics, actions, and especially image don’t clash with their goals.

    It’s hard to win the big seats without the money-men.

  • zingzing

    baritone: “As an aside: One guy I DO like in the House is New York’s Anthony Weiner. He is smart and gutsy.”

    he’s had some moments, hasn’t he? i like him as well. down to earth and centered, yet ANGRY when something pushes his buttons. mother fucker can dress someone down. he’s a (good) nut, but he’ll always play by the rules. then he’ll fuck someone up. i’m sure there’s no fans on the right side of the aisle, but that’s a congressional rock star right there.

    i’d elect a weiner. it’s not like we haven’t elected enough dicks.

  • Cannonshop

    #79 You DO realize that I apply that standard across virtually ALL organizations, from ACORN to Boeing, Right, Baritone? That I include the Union to which I belong as much as the Board of Directors at corporation where I work? That I consider transparency to be something that should be mandatory as much for Political Parties and their fund-raising groups, as I do for international corporations, fraternal orders, and Lobbying firms?

    Specifically requiring campaigns to reveal their sponsors-by name, if those sponsors are not individual private citizens, and requiring verification of where the funding originates would likely hurt the Democrats as much, or more, than the Republicans-because turning off the security software on your website to accept credit-cards from John Galt and P.Doodad would be a FELONY.

  • I think Bill Maher said it quite well in his response to Jon Stewart’s DC rally. His complaint against Stewart was that you simply can’t equate what FOX, Limbaugh and the other wingnuts do to what he, and MSNBC do as it seems Stewart often does. The true crazies are almost ALL on the right.

    Earlier, I saw tape of a Rep House member, whose name I can’t remember at this moment, who, when speaking during a committee meeting regarding global warming, stated that there is NO such thing as global warming because god wouldn’t destroy his creation. He proceeded to read from Genesis – the section after “The Flood” wherein god promises not to do it again, even though all of us humans are nasty, vile and worthless wretches. I’m really relieved. RIGHT WING RELIGIOUS NUTBALL!!!

    He and the brilliant fellow who apologized to BP during the House hearings on the oil spill are in the running for the chairmanship of the House Commerce Committee. RIGHT WING NUTBALL!!!

    Ya couldn’t maked this stuff up.


    As an aside: One guy I DO like in the House is New York’s Anthony Weiner. He is smart and gutsy. I don’t know if, as a country, we’re quite ready for “President Weiner,” though.

  • zingzing

    you kidding, baronius? they were digging up dirt on her like it was handed to them. bit of a witch-hunt.

    hahahahaaaa. she lost. tea party go die.

    you know, i’ve just been reading up on the john birch society and skousen and how much beck likes them and how much the tea party likes beck. the tea party is based on a bunch of conspiracy theorists. go look at the history. the same accusations being leveled against obama were leveled against eisenhower and kennedy, etc, etc. it’s crazy. for a while, the republicans shut up its nuts. but now they’re out and they’re free to be crazy.

    and that’s why the political debate in this country is in the crapper: one side is fucking insane. there’s your answer baronius. the right wing has gone bonkers.

  • Baronius

    Handy – Mike Castle received a 20% rating from the ACU in 2007; Joe Biden received a 0%. The necessary caveats here are that Biden wasn’t running against Castle, and that the ACU isn’t everything.

    As for O’Donnell, you know I’ve been trying to settle the question of how Coons and O’Donnell are viewed by their opponents. I’d rather not take it up here as well. I’ll say that most of the really odd things she’s said seem to be from 15-20 years ago. I would have had concerns about voting for her (if I lived in Delaware) because of some campaign finance accusations, but as far as I noticed the press was too busy reporting about witchcraft to investigate anything important.

  • Mike Castle may be more liberal than you, but is he more liberal than Joe Biden [whose seat that was]?

    And if O’Donnell had won, we all would have lost. Who needs an unqualified loony bird in the Senate? She and Sharron Angle [and Ken Buck and John Raese] would have continued to embarrass themselves along with conservatives and Republicans everywhere, with dimwitted bons mots weekly or daily. It might have been entertaining, but it would have been chronically cringe-inducing. Just as Alan West will be in the House.

  • Baronius

    re#83 – I’d still rather throw the dice for a chance to win than take a guaranteed loss. Mike Castle was the lowest-ranked Republican on the Club for Growth index, had a 0% National Right to Life rating, and got an F from the NRA. He voted for TARP, SCHIP, Cap and Trade, and every kind of campaign finance reform. I’m not expecting purity, but I’m not partisan enough to vote for someone based on the letter after his name.

  • By the way, if last night’s first-show-back was any indication, this episode has made Olbermann more shrill [and actually, Glenn-Beckian] than ever. Watching him and Michael Moore together [wild eyed, drooling, lying, silly boys] was almost enough to make me into a libertarian.

  • I hope this exclusion of moderates from the GOP is temporary. Not to pick on him, but when Baronius expresses his pleasure that Mike Castle won’t be a senator [even though this made it all but inevitable that Chris Coons would be], it illustrates the corrosive effect of purity tests.

    Blue Dog Dems lost a lot of races last week, but I don’t think there’s the same level of ideological policing in the Democratic party.

  • The problem is that the middle has shifted. The libertarians who have gained a foothold have changed the Republican paradigm. To be moderate, is to be dead in the GOP. So, now what may have been considered conservative a few years ago – hell, maybe even a year ago – is now considered Stalinesque by the new right.

  • Baronius, I was responding specifically to your “if you think George Stephanopoulos and CNN represent the middle…”

    Who represents the middle for you? Scarborough and Parker? Anyone else specific?

    You too play a “half court game,” don’t you?

  • Baronius

    Classy, Bar.

  • Whoa! Cannon – Good for you! I agree. 🙂

    Apparently, as far as Bar is concerned, if you don’t come in politically somewhere to the extreme right of Heinrich Himmler, you are not nearly conservative enough. Scarborough served in the House as a Republican and espouses mostly Republican dogma. Don’t know squat about Parker.

    What I think is sadly funny, is now Obama is getting a spike in the polls. People are a fickle bunch and independents are, at best, fair weather friends. I don’t think being a so called independent is such a great thing.


  • Cannonshop

    Can we change the subject a bit to the last statement in the article? because I agree with it-we SHOULD know who’s paying for attack ads, and it really does NOT matter (on a civil level) who commentators or reporters are contributing money to, because it’s all PUBLIC RECORD.

    The Supreme Court, imho, got it wrong in their ruling-Organizations, whether Corporate or private, social or religious, should NOT be permitted the same standards of privacy that individuals theoretically enjoy, in my honest opinion.

  • Baronius

    re#76 – Handy! What are you talking about? Have you read any of this thread? I’m not making any assumptions – that’s why I asked for your opinions about CNN. And we’ve been talking about news versus opinion, and objectivity within the news, this whole time. I swear, it’s like you just got here!

  • Parker and Scarborough have probably voted mostly or entirely for Republicans in the last several elections. They’re certainly not liberals. If the only way someone can be a conservative is to be as conservative as Baronius or Breitbart or Hannity or DeMint, then that is a pretty narrow definition.

    There’s also a difference between commentators and reporters, who are more bound to maintain a wall between their personal politics and their professional demeanor.

    The journalists at CNN, ABC, NBC [broadcast division] and CBS, and at papers like the NY Times, are proud professional journalists. You’re assuming [a] that no one employed by these organizations is a Republican; and [b] that they frequently and significantly compromise themselves and their professional ethics.

    Baronius says he hasn’t watched CNN for quite a while; I imagine he doesn’t read the NY Times regularly either. Caricatures spouted by someone who rarely watches or reads their work are not actually worth very much.

  • zingzing

    beck is now claiming that because someone on msnbc said he was a socialist, that everyone should look out for an “event,” which will lead to socialist violence against america, allowing obama to step in, stop the violence and take over america as a dictator or something.

    and guess who the left is supposedly setting up as the fall guy? why, it’s beck! of course!

    very convenient theorizing. get them before they get you, er, america, or whatever, eh, glenn? eh???

    and that’s the news.

  • Baronius

    You guys ought to get out more if you think that Kathleen Parker and Joe Scarborough are conservatives. I know you’re sitting there thinking how narrow my perspective is, but if you think George Stephanopoulos and CNN represent the middle, you’re playing a half-court game.

  • And the same for MSNBC! Olbermann constantly gets under O’Reilly’s skin. I love it for that alone.


  • Clavos

    Long live FOX!!! If only because it annoys the shit out of the libs.

  • Another thing I’ll say in defense of MSNBC. All of the lefty pundits do not shy away from being critical of Obama and other Dems when they feel its deserved. Maddow has been especially critical of Obama and the lack of action on DADT, the failure to close GITMO, and the escalation of the Afghan war.

    Olbermann & Chris Matthews were been seriously concerned about many of Obama’s choices for Cabinet and other administration posts. Dylan Ratigan has been scathing in his attacks against Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke and others on the Obama “financial team” The MS folks are not nearly so uncritical and accommodating to Obama and the Dems as are the wingnuts at FOX toward the Reps.

    And yes, as handy points out, the daytime line up at MSNBC is, on the whole pretty straight line news with the likes of Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd and others. And Morning Joe can be a real hoot with conservative Joe Scarborough at point and Mika Brzezinski trying vainly to keep him in check.


  • zingzing

    “Ya know, when what advertizes itself as a news organization puts all but declared presidential candidates on its payroll, it’s kinda hard to think of it as “Fair and Balanced.” What a crock.”

    that’s what i’m sayin! it’s pure propaganda! what the fuck happened to news and journalism? FOX Prop is a better name. catchier too.

    and the logo would be pretty easy to make. some cartoon fox (probably male, probably white) with some shades on and a hat, leaning up against the word “prop” in a t-shirt and arms crossed. you get it? oh, it’s so easy. sassy! and the shades, they’ll just bring in the youngsters, like joe camel or whatever rjr used to use in advertising camel cigs to the kids.

    suck ’em down, FOX Prop!!!

  • I still stand by my assertion that Maddow is the most research heavy of any of the TV political pundits. She gets some things wrong, but as I noted, and as is noted by others above, she makes on air corrections and, if appropriate, on air apologies. I’ve never seen nor heard of ANYONE at FOX or Limbaugh or Breitbart EVER admit an error or make anything even remotely like an apology. They report lying bullshit virtually every damn day. And it just lays there to fester into Republican votes. And as for Glen Beck, the FOX idiot in residence, he wouldn’t acknowledge truth if it up and slapped him in the face.

    Ya know, when what advertizes itself as a news organization puts all but declared presidential candidates on its payroll, it’s kinda hard to think of it as “Fair and Balanced.” What a crock.


  • zingzing

    baronius, you’ll go to your grave defending that liar (and you act like you’re dumb enough to believe the things he says, but i know better), but you get upset if someone shows a little snark in an apology? well, excuse me, but if we ever get to see what a breitbart apology looks like, that’ll be the day.

    i just took a look at his website for the first time in a while. they’re reviewing a script for an unmade film, yeah, that’s right, it’s not even really in development yet, which depicts the rise of (but not the fall, apparently) of karl rove. in the review, they use the term “postmodern politics.” i’ve never quite heard that one. it’s actually a very apt term, if a bit dark.

  • That sounds like something I would say about Andrew himself. Are you defending this Stockman character, who couldn’t even get re-elected after one term in the House? She misspoke, she admitted it, she explicitly apologized. Something Andrew B rarely bothers to do. All you can take from it is her attitude, which of course is what I love about her.

    She was “factually wrong” only about the timing of the fax, not about Stockman being a militia-supporting right-wing extremist. And she admitted it! Fer cryin’ out loud. Should she break down in tears and beg your forgiveness?

  • Baronius

    Breitbart made a snarky comment? Breitbart? Maddow’s apology was pure attitude, like your defense of her. You’re saying that she was right even though she was factually wrong. The truth doesn’t matter as much as the ideology.

  • CNN and MSNBC are quite different. CNN tries to keep an objective “down the middle” tone in its news coverage, and typically has both a liberal and conservative talking head on when opinions are being asked.

    In their new 8 pm show, ‘liberal’ Elliot Spitzer is paired with ‘conservative’ Kathleen Parker. Surprise: I really like her, and I find him a repellent, nerdy motormouth.

    MSNBC is more CNN-ish in the daytime. Andrea Mitchell’s show is great, and Chuck Todd is an excellent political reporter.

  • As Baronius’s beloved Andrew Breitbart noted, Rachel Maddow retracted the misstatement, corrected it and apologized, and thanked the ‘right-wing bloggers who are soo angry with me’ [thanked them for the correction, that is].

    Breitbart couldn’t resist a snarky comment that she apolgized “…sort of, in her own unique way.” But I don’t see what’s wrong with what she said in the retraction. Her point was that Stockman was a wacko extremist who sympathized with the ‘black helicopters are coming’ militia movement, and that point stands.

  • Baronius

    Just curious – What do you lib-types think of CNN? It’s been a long time since I’ve watched it, but I would put it on par with MSNBC in terms of its opinion/news ratio.

  • zingzing

    that said, i recognize the fact that no one at msnbc or fox values things like truth, dignity, journalism or anything else higher than they do ratings and cash. and fox leads in the ratings. so fox is the model. so it’ll only go downhill from here.

  • zingzing

    “So, we should eliminate these programs because the audience is stupid?”

    you yourself point out that because of fox’s bullshit, thousands and thousands of people believe lies. and millions believe further lies that fox has spread. it’s the unfortunate reality that our politics are almost completely based on what are at least hyperbolic half-truths. or truthiness, i guess.

    and i think i’ve made it clear that “we” shouldn’t be doing any “eliminating” of programs (see comments #55, 44, etc, etc). i just think fox should be ashamed (and publicly shamed) enough to quit being such tools. if you’re a news organization, follow journalistic standards. if you’re a pundit giving your opinion, at least have the decency to separate fact from fiction, and do your fucking job with the slightest shred of your dignity intact.

    is it really so much to ask? i think not.

  • Baronius

    Bar – So, three weeks ago (when Maddow was less experienced than she is now), she accused a congressman of being an accomplice to the murder of 168 people, but she corrected herself the next day. That makes her your “real deal”, and Handy considers her “research-centric”.

  • So, we should eliminate these programs because the audience is stupid?


  • zingzing

    well, here’s the key sentence: “it should be clear to everyone that what FOX and the nite time pundits at MSNBC offer is NOT news.”

    and of course, the key word in the key sentence is “should.” unfortunately, it’s not always the case that people recognize what they’re seeing. or at least, that’s not the effect it has, as your $200m/day story shows.

  • zing, I won’t belabor the point with you much further, but I just don’t happen to agree. I understand what you are saying, and in a more perfect world it might work out that way. For many years, you only rarely heard anything remotely opinionated from TV journalists. About the first pundit I ever heard editorializing was Eric Sevareid on 60 Minutes. Only late in his career did Walter Cronkite start offering commentary.

    But it should be clear to everyone that what FOX and the nite time pundits at MSNBC offer is NOT news, perse’. It is ALL opinion. I doubt that many who tune into Limbaugh’s rants consider what they are getting is “news” in the journalistic sense. I consider what one gets from around 4PM on, on MSNBC is tantamount to the editorial page of the newspaper. And,I must admit that I enjoy it a lot.


  • Bar,

    Maddow has acknowledged mistakes she has made and admitted that when she was new to the business, she was guilty of not checking her facts thoroughly enough.

    In that light, Maddow has made research the center of her efforts. She rarely, if ever, now makes any statement that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted by herself and/or her staff.

    The problem with FOX is that few of those people can be considered “newbys” or wet behind the ears. They’ve all been around for several years, and yet they still seem to have no problem with reporting anything and everything that pops up without regard to the sources – like the recent assertion that Obama’s current trip was to cost taxpayers two hundred million dollars a day plus the deployment of 35 navy warships and dozens of aircraft along with a 2000 person entourage. All the FOX people and Limbaugh among others grabbed that right up and made hay with it without any apparent effort to verify. Rather, they stated that “it had been reported.” Reported where? By whom? From what source?

    Yet, I would bet you that there are now thousands of the FOX/Limbaugh devotees who still believe that story to be true, and who probably still cling to the notion of death panels and Obama’s devotion to islam.

  • zingzing

    baritone, as i said waaaay back in the olden times of comment #44: “i’m not saying that fox or msnbc should be shut down. i just wish they’d be more responsible for reporting the truth, being real journalists and stop valuing ratings over reality.”

    fox news is propaganda and misinformation masquerading as “opinion” and briefly, in little flickers, “news.” the american political dialogue has become little other than lies attacking lies. i don’t see this as a good thing in the least. it just shouldn’t be this way. and for that, i blame fox and (at least by extension,) msnbc.

    obviously, censorship isn’t the answer. but a little self-policing, a little pride in being a journalist, a little pride in being honest and a little shame in being part of the vortex that sucked this nation’s political debate into its current abyss would go a long way.

  • Baronius

    No, I was mocking her outrageous accusation from a couple of weeks ago.

  • Bar, Are you for real regarding Maddow? At the time of 9/11 she was no more than a fledgling voice. I’m not even sure if she was on Air America back then. I don’t remember when Air America came into existence.

  • zing,

    The media is rife with opinion. There are magazines, radio programs and of course how many web sites devoted to political opinion. While I understand that TV perhaps remains the most widely used and most powerful medium, should it be singled out as THE one where political opinion is verboten?

    I hate FOX, yet as the old saying goes, I support its right to exist.

    It should also be pointed out that both MSNBC and FOX (the latter to a frankly lesser extent) do provide straight news – mainly during the daylight hours. I don’t know of the FOX schedule, but MSNBC has after Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough – a Republican/conservative – basic news programming from 9AM to 4PM. At 4 Dylan Ratigan has an hour show, and frankly, I’m not sure just where he’s coming from politically, and after that, yes it’s all left wing opinion with Chris Matthews (at both 5PM and 7PM EST,) The Ed Show with Ed Schultz at 6PM, then after Matthews’ second airing comes Olbermann, Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell.

    Given the circumstances, I think that MSNBC (which I hear may soon be purchased by Comcast) provides the yang to FOX’s yin. (Or is that vice versa?)

    I think your assertion that FOX would collapse of its own weight without MSNBC or the like is wishful thinking. FOX is firmly entrenched with a huge audience, and is in effect a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party. They even have 2 or 3 likely 2012 Republican presidential candidates on the payroll.

    I have also found that the left pundits at MSNBC are much more careful with the facts than they are at FOX, and on the occasion when the MS folks may have gotten something wrong, they quickly and openly admit the error on air. This is even true of Olbermann. I don’t see the same happening at FOX. Rather, they feed into the closed ring of undeniablity. Once they say it on FOX (or Limbaugh, or wherever,) it becomes fact as far as their minions are concerned. There’s no refutation possible.

    And again I reiterate, Rachael Maddow is the real deal. Moreso than any of the others, right or left.


  • Google the quote Handy, or just turn on the news and you’ll see that the joyous news is true

  • Both Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow [or their staffs] have compiled brilliant montages of clips that illustrate how propagandistic Fox News is, how they pound away at often minor bits of non-news to score an ideological point. Maddows “Stories to Scare White People With” is a classic example.

    No doubt Fox fans believe similar compilations could be done with Olbermann’s show or others to a similar effect. I have not yet seen such a thing done. And it would be far more difficult to do with material from the shows of the research-centric Maddow or the heavily ironic Stewart.

  • #46 – I assume this is a ‘joke,’ but if so it’s drawn from a vein of ‘humor’ that is invisible to the rest of us.

  • MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement Sunday night, “After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night’s program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night.”

  • Baronius

    Bar – Of course I’m aware of the Koch brothers. And you’re aware of Spielberg, Katzenberg, and Geffen. You may also be aware of America’s Family First Action Fund, and Commonsense Ten. The Democrats were not hurting for money this year.

  • Baronius

    The big problem with Maddow is the way she had advanced warning of 9/11 and didn’t share the information with the authorities.

  • Clavos

    I don’t watch MSNBC, so can’t comment on them, but one thing about FOX: they don’t pass off the O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck or other programs as news, or even as journalism. These shows (and show is the right term here) are billed as opinion. The only “shows” billed as news are Sheppard Smith’s and Brit Hume’s, and even Hume admits to opinion, so I don’t see why (other than you disagree with the views expressed) you progs are so anxious to shut down FOX. I know of few conservatives who want to shut down Olbermann or Maddow, most of them just laugh at their antics and ridicule them.

  • zingzing

    it ought to be reflected in the candidates AND the news media. i view fox as being “full of lies and dishonesty.” the right views msnbc the same way i do fox. it pushes us apart. i know it’s supposedly “opinion,” but people on the right and the left take it as gospel truth.

    it’s become obvious that fox can influence the politics of our nation, yet they’re full of shit. if msnbc presents the other side of that, and they do so in a format that apes fox’s format, it’s just possible that they’re full of shit as well. it’s never going to get better if they keep on pushing off each other.

    i’m not saying that fox or msnbc should be shut down. i just wish they’d be more responsible for reporting the truth, being real journalists and stop valuing ratings over reality.

  • I don’t think journalism with a strong point of view is automatically so bad. Only when it’s full of lies and dishonesty.

    The polarization of politics is certainly ugly. But most voters really are still in the middle and that ought to be reflected in the candidates too, eventually.

  • zingzing

    it’s not me i’m worried about. i don’t even have a television. i only see them (on the internet) when they do something stupid or someone else does something stupid and they talk about how stupid it all is.

    it’s the effect this shit has on our politics that bothers me. it’s yellow journalism. sensationalism for nothing but ill gain. IT’S TEARING US APART, LISA.

  • I don’t understand wishing the programs out of existence, Zing. Just don’t watch ’em.

  • zingzing

    well, there you go… like it or not, he’s back on tuesday. king ratings has his way.

  • zingzing

    i’ve watched maddow on occasion. she’s not so bad. but “journalism” that swings so obviously to one side or the other pisses me off. admittedly, most of msnbc doesn’t really piss me off that much, because i agree with a lot of it. but seeing what fox news does, and getting so boiled up by their bullshit, one must wonder what the right thinks of msnbc. each one is just going to up the stakes, move further and further apart from each other, and the political discussion in this nation, because it is dominated by tv news, is just going to fracture more and more. they’re both poison. i’d like to see the left be the better man, if you will. we don’t need the hyperbole. the right’s hyperbole, if it exists all on its own and isn’t fed by the left’s hyperbole, will eat itself.

    the daily show and colbert get it right. they point out the hyperbole, but by making it comedy, rarely add any hyperbole that tries to be taken seriously. and the daily show was viewed by more in the 18-45 bracket (or whatever) than leno or letterman or fox’s top performer last week. we don’t need an equal and opposite hyperbolic reaction. we need the truth and we need satire.

  • I have to disagree with you on this zing. As you well know, the right has literally dozens of voices on the airwaves. FOX hogs the Righty limelight on the tube, but there is a veritable bastian of wingnut radio shows. Air America died a painful death. There may be a liberal voice or two in some markets, but otherwise, MSNBC is IT. I understand that the viewers and listeners of these various networks/programs are essentially the choir, but I find it a bit of a relief, if nothing else, to listen to Olbermann and especially Rachael Maddow. I’ve no doubt that Olbermann is a huge ego, and he tends toward bombast and blowhardry, but I agree with handy that he is intelligent – far more so than any of the FOX lineup – and all of the MSNBC lefty pundits do bring to lite a lot of things you’d never hear of otherwise.

    If you haven’t watched Maddow, I suggest you give her a try. She is thorough and the most fair of all the MS leftys.


  • Olbermann is sometimes over the top, but he is very smart, and his show often provides very valuable counterpoint. Behind the scenes, he’s reported to be outrageously stubborn and a real egomaniac [as compared to that blushing wallflower O’Reilly, ha].

    But I believe they’ll reach some compromise about an apology, and he will be back on, if not Monday, then very soon.

  • 😀 Great comments B. These people know you are right, it’s just the old word game as usual.

  • zingzing

    i know, i know. but i really think the existence of both fox and msnbc is a drag on our politics.

    i just read an article about the failure of the cap and trade legislation, and even the republicans involved were hushing shit up and trying to push shit through as quickly as possible “before fox news gets ahold of the story.” they knew fox would bend it into whatever shape was necessary to choke it to death, and that’s part of what killed it. that and obama giving away some of the bargaining chips. sigh. i didn’t even like the bargaining chips, but damn if they wouldn’t have been useful. but it was doomed anyway.

  • “i hope he stays gone and msnbc tries to be a little more respectable.”

    It’s TV. Respectable doesn’t pay the bills. And he won’t stay gone unless there’s some grandstanding behind the scenes because he’s the channel’s biggest star

  • “He was suspended for breaking the rules.”

    According to latest report on Politico he wasn’t suspended for breaking the rule:

    “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 ‘Countdown.'”

  • zingzing

    cannonshop: “I guess my question is whether or not this was a good business move by MSNBC’s brass.”

    it wasn’t a move they wanted to make. some part of his audience isn’t going to come back to msnbc, and i doubt the new audience generated by his replacement and the current uproar is going to make up for it. of course it wasn’t a good business move. but they were forced into it. silly as it is. there wasn’t any doubt as to which side he was on. he’s partisan. i dislike him as much as anyone over at fox, because i think he uses the cheap tactics that they use, and that shouldn’t have any place in the media. so i’m not really unhappy that he’s gone. it’s not like if we on the left don’t have silly fox-aping shows like his around, there’s suddenly going to be a movement to the right within his audience. it’s no big loss. i hope he stays gone and msnbc tries to be a little more respectable.

  • SAG

    “No he wasn’t, Roger. You know that.”

    And by what special divination do you make that claim?


  • Bar,

    Since the actual #s are not available as I noted, that could be difficult.But much has been made of this very issue and it has been plain that the US Chamber of Commerce, despite their denials have brought in millions in both domestive foreign money solely for Rep candidates and/or the Rep party. Also any # of big names, the most egregious of which are likely the Koch brothers who have given millions directly to Reps and engineered millions more from other sources. If you’re not aware of this, perhaps it might serve you to flip on the tube once in awhile. One can become better informed by doing so.


  • Cannonshop

    The rules he was breaking were the rules of MSNBC-which is his employer. The rules were part of his contract, he agreed to abide by them when he accepted employment there and drew his paycheques.

    It’s not a question of “Journalistic Neutrality”-Olbermann is an editorialist and his show is an Opinion show…but he broke the rules of his employer, so he’s on suspension.

    by his Employer, not by some outside agency, not by some overbearing board of Journalistic Neutrality or Kommissar of Media Image.

    This could blow up in MSNBC’s face if another network decided to rook him from them due to this suspension, (He IS a ratings generator, even if it isn’t as high as Hannity, his show gets more viewers than, say, Maddow or other MSNBC programming…)

    I guess my question is whether or not this was a good business move by MSNBC’s brass.

    And I don’t know the answer to that question.

  • Baronius

    Roger, that wasn’t my intent, but I think I agree with that sentiment. Olbermann would be biased even if he followed those rules, and he could (if he chose to) be unbiased even if those rules didn’t exist.

    I guess I have two separate qualms. First, the policy only addresses the appearance of neutrality, not neutrality itself. Neutrality is something that any reporter has to work on regularly. I’m sure that Scott Nance was a liberal back when he was a reporter, and if he was a good one, he kept all his biases out of his work.

    Second problem: the modern journo-commentator or opinion journalist or whatever you want to call him isn’t aiming for journalistic neutrality. I don’t watch the cable news channels, so I don’t know what percentage of their shows aim at objectivity, but clearly Sean and Keith and Bill and Rachel don’t. That’s the difference between regular journalists and advocates. Dan Rather was a failure at neutrality; Keith Olbermann is a success at advocacy.


    “But let’s not imply that he was suspended for breaking his journalistic neutrality. He was suspended for breaking the rules.”
    No he wasn’t, Roger. You know that.

    Olbermann was ‘suspended INDEFINITELY.’ This isn’t a “break-the-rules, pay-the-price” situation. (Really, how hard a decision could this have been to make? “He broke the rules, penalty is two days off without pay.” Whatever.)

    By using ‘suspended INDEFINITELY’ MSNBC/GE/Comast get to judge public reaction, and to see how long it’s going to take them to water-down or eliminate ALL pro-individual, anti-corporation presence on the airwaves.

  • Baronius

    Baritone – “Hundreds of millions of dollars have come mainly to Republicans since the vapid Supreme Court decision allowing huge anonymous donations, many from outside the country, with no means to determine who gave what.” Care to back that up with numbers?

  • I think there is a hint of that in the following, Baronius:

    But let’s not imply that he was suspended for breaking his journalistic neutrality. He was suspended for breaking the rules.

    You do seem to be suggesting that the rules have little or nothing to do with trying to uphold the standard of journalistic neutrality.

  • ALL of the big corporations give voluminous amounts of money to both parties. Only a relatively small part of GE’s business is related to NBC. Hundreds of millions of dollars have come mainly to Republicans since the vapid Supreme Court decision allowing huge anonymous donations, many from outside the country, with no means to determine who gave what.

    Big corporations, the banks and Wall Street are dead set against Obama and his agenda. They want to regress back to the Bush years, so that they are free to make obscene amounts of money – mainly out of thin air through ludicrously risky wagers/investments using other people’s money – without any regulatory hindrances. They sold all the tea party and other supposed conservative lemmings the bill of goods that Obama had taken the government away from them.

    What Obama attempted to do was to give the government back to the people and out of the hands of the corporate oligarchy. The Reps – who have their noses planted firmly up the big corporate asses – got their marching orders to oppose Obama at every turn. They largely achieved their goal by lying about virtually everything, using fear to galvanize the aforementioned lemmings against the socialist/fascist “dark cloud” which had risen ominously over the nation. Republicans and their backers have achieved a new low; an envelope which they no doubt will stretch even lower over the next 2 years in their admitted mission of making Obama a one term president. For them, their end justifies ANY means, perhaps even to the point of “second ammendment remedies.” This is American the Beautiful at its finest.


  • Baronius

    Libhomo – According to Open Secrets, GE gave more money to Democrats than to Republicans in the last two cycles.

  • Scott,

    I’m sorry but You cannot compare Olbermann’s suspension from MSNBC with the amount of undisclosed money pouring into this country through the Chamber of Commerce. They are totally unrelated, yes?

    This would have uncovered the source of campaign funds.

    Help get rid of the GOP money making scam disguised as news.

    Shut Down Fox!

    Bye for now.

  • zingzing

    “Arch makes the same argument as O’Reilly.”

    imagine that.

  • Arch makes the same argument as O’Reilly. Anytime the folks at MSNBC attack him or Fox, he breaks his neck to cite the difference in ratings – the reasoning no doubt being that might – or ratings – make right. Again, to evoke Ms. Maddow: Bull Pucky!

  • jamminsue

    Arch, I found a petition that has over 200,000 sigs on it as of early this morning. It most definitely is news!

  • Olbermann’s ratings [over a million viewers nightly] are just peachy for MSNBC, their highest in fact. Fewer than Fox, but sometimes double CNN. We live in a world where there are hundreds of cable channels, and advertisers have different expectations based on a fragmented media world.

    Also, Keith’s audience is obviously way cooler [and younger] than O’Reilly’s. Not quite up there with Jon Stewart though.

  • zingzing


  • GE and Comcast give money to the Republicans all the time. Olbermann was suspended because he gave money to the “wrong” party.

  • Baronius

    “The rules, Baronius, are presumed to safeguard the network’s neutrality. Whether they do so de facto is another question, but that’s the presumed intent. You’re free of course to think of it as nothing but pretense, but if you do, I should think it behooves you to state this outright rather than argue for a distinction without a difference.”

    Did I do that?

  • zingzing

    weren’t? why not.

  • zingzing

    if only merit weren’t judged by popularity…

  • Arch Conservative

    Judging by the ratings, no one gives a damn about Olbermann or MSNBC.

    It’s a non story.

  • The rules, Baronius, are presumed to safeguard the network’s neutrality. Whether they do so de facto is another question, but that’s the presumed intent. You’re free of course to think of it as nothing but pretense, but if you do, I should think it behooves you to state this outright rather than argue for a distinction without a difference.

  • Maybe you were persuasive, Baronius, but if Dave responds at all to my comment it is likely he will claim to have felt that way all along. He rarely admits to error or to changing his mind.

  • Baronius

    Handy –

    #8 We agree.
    #9 I’d like to believe that my passionate arguments on BC have persuaded Dave.

  • For the record, Dave’s opinion on disclosure of donors’ names is a new one. [His position has “evolved.”]

    He previously agreed that it was a good idea for corporations, unions, and nonprofits like the NRA to disclose their donations. Now that it is politically advantageous for his side, he is magically transformed into an advocate for the “right” of donors to remain anonymous. As Ms. Maddow would say: Bull-puckey.

    Even the Supreme Court justices who disallowed restrictions on corporate giving earlier this year did so under the assumption that donors would be disclosed. Anthony Kennedy specifically cited this as a rationale for his concurrence with the majority ruling.

  • As long as they’re upfront about it, opinion-oriented broadcasters like Olbermann and Hannity should be free to contribute to campaigns. Hannity already does so quite shamelessly. The only differences are in the respective corporate policies of Fox and NBC.

    Neither Hannity nor Olbermann even pretends to be an “objective journalist.”

  • Baronius

    I just watched the Maddow clip. She wasn’t telling a news story; she was laying out a case in defense of Olbermann. She can call it whatever she wants to: she was being an advocate for him and for her network. Likewise, Fox can call itself whatever it wants to. They’re advocates.

    (I’ve been reading Scott’s articles for a while. I like aspects of his writing style. But he never analyses the news impartially. He advocates for his side.)

    Let’s not pretend that those campaign contributions made Olbermann less neutral, or appear less neutral. Did anyone wonder which party Olbermann’s candidates belong to? Of course not. He wears his politics on his sleeve. If he wants to do a show like that, fine. But let’s not imply that he was suspended for breaking his journalistic neutrality. He was suspended for breaking the rules.

  • I should be “Fox’s den of iniquity,” Baritone.

  • Good point about MSNBC. For better or worse, they are trying to differentiate themselves from FOX News, another point conveniently overlooked by Dave whose obvious intention is to paint all cable-news networks as equally biased.

  • I agree that Olbermann did not adhere to rules he surely knew were in place at NBC, although included in a CNN report on his suspension, it was said that Olbermann had discussed his intent with some of the NBC mucky-mucks. I also agree that his suspension was both appropriate and, will be short lived, unless the big thinkers at NBC have lost their minds.

    I think Rachael’s point regarding the difference between MSNBC and Fox was dead on. Fox makes no pretense. It is a wholly paid arm of the Republican party. MSNBC is not so for the Dems. In fact, I have seen a goodly amount of criticism of Obama and other Democrats coming, not just from righty Joe Scarborough, but from Chris Matthews, Rachael Maddow, Olbermann and especially from Lawrence O’Donnell among others. Hardly a critical whisper against Reps is ever heard over at the Fox’s den.

    Of course, I don’t agree with Dave. But that’s not news.


  • I disagree, Dave. Scott and Rachel Maddow have it right. All rights, properly understood, should always be subject to conditions and limitations, and it’s no difference with the privacy rights of political contributors. We’re not talking here about average citizens but interested parties – people who are in the position to influence the political process. To try to apply privacy rights to each and everyone alike is not only to be ignoring the political realities. It also exhibits a kind of extremism that gives the libertarians a bad name, if only for imagining themselves to be living in a simplistic, fantasy world.

  • And here I thought the suspension WAS the good news.

    But thanks for highlighting the DISCLOSE act and the effort to take away the privacy rights of political contributors. Just as we should have privacy in the voting booth, a fair democratic process demands anonymity for all political contributions.