05 November 2010

Countdown for Olbermann?

NBC has suspended Keith Olbermann, the host of MSNBC's prime-time Countdown show, for putting his money where his mouth is. Olbermann donated money to three Democratic congressional candidates, two in Arizona and one in Kentucky, in violation of the parent network's code of journalistic ethics. I was not aware that Olbermann was a journalist, however. Countdown is an opinion show, and despite Olbermann's protests to the contrary, it is daily propaganda for the Democratic party, even if only in the negative form of anti-Republican fearmongering. Bias is the entire point of his program, and even when he participates on Election Night panels, as he did Tuesday night, I presume that he's on to offer his personal opinions, not objective news reports. Not knowing the policy of Fox News in this regard for comparison purposes, I can only question NBC's decision -- not out of sympathy for Olbermann, whose act grew tiresome for me some time ago, but on the basis of common sense. He should have just as much right to give money to candidates as he does to advocate for them on his program. If Olbermann has breached a code of journalistic ethics, he did it long before any money changed hands. Removing him from the air may be the appropriate punishment in that case, since it would render the network itself consistent in its apparent opposition to bias, but I expect some kind of petition campaign for his reinstatement any moment now, and from a business standpoint it makes sense to keep him -- and to be honest about the actual business of MSNBC.

6 comments:

Crhymethinc said...

On the other hand, it simply be a marketing ploy. Maybe he's actually just taking some vacation time and they're calling it a "suspension" to get some action going.

It's business as usual in DC, why should we expect any better from corporate America?

hobbyfan said...

Sam: "I was not aware that Olbermann was a journalist, however."

How can you be so naive? Before MSNBC, Olbermann was an anchor for ESPN. Even a sports anchor has to have some qualifications as a journalist.

I just read about it in the Daily News. I didn't know that you needed clearance from your bosses to make campaign donations while holding an on-air job. Maybe he's better off going back to doing commercials for Boston Market.....

Samuel Wilson said...

Crhymethinc: I suspect it'll look like a marketing ploy in retrospect. Olbermann certainly needs no excuses to take time off, however.

hobbyfan: The subject is the Countdown show, not the ancient past, and there's no way that program counts as journalism.

hobbyfan said...

Well, instead of being a bully pulpit for one party or the other, can't MSNBC, and for that matter, Fox News Channel, bite the bullet and go non-partisan?

Crhymethinc said...

Hobby: There's no money in being bipartisan. In order to get an audience, they have to whip up a frenzy.

Sam: He's been reinstated already.

hobbyfan said...

Crhyme: Saw that headlined on Google Groups. TMA (Too much attention), methinks.