Saturday, November 06, 2010

Rachel Maddow throws Keith Olbermann under the bus while Bill Kristol rushes to his defense.

In other news - My head explodes.

This is not my usual fare, but I've had a few things to say about Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow in the past. Perhaps more relevant, memeorandum has identified Olbermann's suspension from MSNBC as a mandatory post or what I refer to as a Yossarian.* Let us begin.

The left-o-sphere is up in arms. The right-o-sphere cannot contain their mirth. Keith's "good friend and colleague" Rachel Maddow (who owes her TV career on MSNBC to Keith Olbermann) explains exactly what happened:

If you look past her sympathetic demeanor and pay close attention to what she is saying, the unmistakable takeaway is that Maddow is standing foursquare on the side of MSNBC management. She is saying her “good friend and colleague” Keith Olbermann was flat out wrong. Worse than that - he was "Fox News wrong."

She spends several minutes tut-tutting over a litany of egregious examples of Fox personalities raising funds and contributing to Republican candidates and causes. Well and good, but once she starts down that path, there is no way to backtrack and justify Olbermann's contributions to Democratic candidates as acceptable since – you know – that would make MSNBC just like Fox.

Ever since Jon Stewart put Fox and MSNBC in the same journalistic basket at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear last week, the MSNBC punditocracy have been a bit touchy on exactly that subject.

It is obviously important to Maddow to demonstrate that she works for a news organization that has higher standards than Fox. Important enough that her “good friend and colleague” Keith Olbermann had to go under the bus. She even seems to agree the punishment meted out from MSNBC management is fair (as long as the suspension does not go on to long), concluding with a wish that he will be back soon. Perhaps it was more like a plea for a (MSNBC News) Presidential Pardon. Perhaps in the expectation that Olbermann will show remorse and get some time off for good behavior. Perhaps.

Meanwhile - unlike Maddow - neocon nemesis William Kristol has Keith Olbermann's back with a full throated defense:

Keep Keith! – William Kristol

"MSNBC’s suspension of Keith Olbermann is ludicrous.

First, he donated money to candidates he liked. He didn’t take money, or favors, in a way that influenced his reporting.

Second, he’s not a reporter. It’s an opinion show. If Olbermann wants to put his money where his mouth is, more power to him.

Third, GE, the corporate parent of MSNBC, gives money to political organizations. GE executives and, I’m sure, NBC executives give money. Why can’t Olbermann?

Perhaps Olbermann violated NBC News “policy and standards.” But NBC doesn’t have real news standards for MSNBC—otherwise the channel wouldn’t exist. It’s a little strange to get all high and mighty now.

But there’s now a Republican House, and perhaps GE is trying to curry favor by dumping Olbermann?

Republicans of the world, show you believe in the free expression of opinion! Tell the crony corporatists at NBC—keep Keith!"

I'm not going to try and sort this out.

One voice is yet to be heard.

What will Keith do?

*Paraphrasing Joseph Heller's famous protagonist from Catch 22 - "What if everyone was blogging about about Olbermann's suspension?" I can only respond as did Bomber Pilot John Yossarian: "Then I'd be a damn fool not to".

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.


Tully said...

Put me squarely in the Kristol camp. And let us note Rachel Maddow's smug support of throwing Keef under the bus ... which means she moves up in the MSNBC pantheon. Hopey change! Kumbayah!

I strongly suspect that there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye, and that Olbermann's "indefinite suspension without pay" for breaking NBC rules is as much a selective application of same as Juan William's firing by NPR was. Keef has offended the network gods in some way, or they just made a strategic programming decision, and the donations were the excuse to avoid contractual/political issues.

mw said...

Agreed. So much of this shitstorm is speculation about motivations. MSNBC has new owners, they've never had great ratings, Olbermann has an expensive contract. Who knows? But Olby himself is being uncharacteristically quiet. I wonder how he feels about Maddow leaving him twisting slowly in the wind.

OTOH - maybe he doesn't understand that she is standing shoulder to shoulder with management. Some apparently don't. Check out the headline on the story at Huffpo, - "Maddow Defends Olbermann".

Certainly she was sympathetic, but I sure didn't see any defense of his actions.

Taylor Wray said...

Feel free to skip the next "Yossarian." This shit is boring as hell and very trivial.