Goodbye Olbermann, hello Comcast

Keith Olbermann was let go from MSNBC yesterday. I’ll admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of his Murrow-aping delivery, but I liked knowing that he was out there every night, calling the conservatives out on their bullshit. He was, as far as I know, the first person in the media to speak up against George Bush, and, for that, he will always have my admiration… At any rate, here he is, saying goodbye.

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As Countdown was, I believe, the number one show on the network, one suspects that the cancellation wasn’t about ratings. I’d like to think that it wasn’t over Olbermann’s politics, but I don’t see how it could be anything else. And, it does look incredibly suspicious, given that the NBC Comcast merger was just given the green light by the FCC a few days ago. If I’m not mistaken, this is exactly the kind of thing that Al Franken warned us about. I just wonder what kind of effect this will have on the remaining MSNBC hosts, like Rachel Maddow.

From Wired:

…“Keith Olbermann’s announcement tonight, the very same week that the government blessed the Comcast-NBC merger, raises serious concern for anyone who cares about free speech,” Marvin Ammori, the University of Nebraska law school professor and free speech advocate, told by email.

“Comcast proved expert in shaking down the government to approve its merger,” Ammori said. “Comcast’s shakedown of NBC has just begun.”

Philadelphia-based Comcast, the largest cable and broadband provider in the United States, is controlled by the wealthy, politically-connected Roberts family…

It looks to me as though the MSNBC threat has been sufficiently contained… Good work, Washington!

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  1. Bob
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I really couldn’t stand the guys ego and blowhard delivery. But like you, I guess I also kind of liked knowing he was out there. I’m not arguing the idea that media moguls look to crush progressive voices, but I suspect in this case it was largely about Olbermann himself. I get the impression nobody at the network liked the guy personally. He had pretty public conflict with a number of people at MSNBC, notably Chris Matthews. MSNBC in general sounds like it’s worthy of a juicy soap opera behind the scenes with constant firings, suspensions and management upheavals. Ed Schultz got reprimanded a while back and allegedly threatened to burn the place to the ground.

  2. Edward
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I guess people should have listened to you when you told them to write their elected officials about the merger.

  3. Dirtgrain
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I’ve long felt that by fighting propaganda, spin and misinformation with the same, we would be making the system all the worse–and that there must be a way to defeat the lies of the media machine with truth. But truth doesn’t get ratings. The left propagandizes, spins and misinforms, perhaps as much as the right does. Olbermann had his overboard moments. I did like some of his diatribes, but I don’t know that having an Olbermann to counter a O’Reilly, or a Maddow to counter a Hannity, will make things better.

  4. Glen S.
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Although I found KO’s over-the-top tone and delivery rather obnoxious, I really appreciate what he stood for, and what he was able to accomplish.

    It is easy to forget now that when “Countdown” began, cable “news” was still very much in the bombastic, flag-waving, “with us or against us,” post 9-11 era. By daring to be one of the first cable talking heads to consistently challenge the Bush regime’s rationale for the Iraq war, as well as its execution, Olbermann played a crucial role in opening the public’s eyes to what was really going on — and paved the way for more moderate-to-liberal voices such as Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, etc., to gain a foothold in the cable news mainstream, helping to balance, to some degree, what had become a right-wing monopoly.

    As Olbermann remains MSNBC’s highest-rated host, and presumably a profit center, as well — it doesn’t seem to be too much of a stretch to imagine that there must be politics at play. Now that the FCC has paved the way for the Comcast/NBC merger, corporate leaders probably thought the time was right to “discontinue” Countdown.

    What’s next? Will Comcast/GE/NBC/Universal finally cancel “30 Rock,” as well? (“Kabletown,” anyone?)

    Oh, well … another great reason to cancel my lousy Comcast subscription, which I was already considering, anyway.

  5. Oliva
    Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I agree that Olbermann played a huge part in taking on Bush-Ch[] (can’t even say his name anymore, oh dear) and getting us beyond. Him and Colbert with that absolutely brilliant and wonderful National Press Club dinner. He [Olbermann] was more maddening the past few years but still precious for having spoken powerfully for many of us and succeeding. I don’t have Comcast so can’t cancel. Am thinking it’s no more MSNBC. Am curious to hear the fuller story. Thank goodness for C-SPAN. (But watch out, eh? The House might try defunding it.) And thank you, Mark, for doing your part ahead of the merger.

  6. Knox
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Maybe they’ll give that Republican male prostitute from the Bush press corp his own TV show. What was his name? Jeff something, wasn’t it?

  7. Knox
    Posted January 23, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Was it Gannon? That sounds right to me.

  8. loud alarm clock
    Posted January 29, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Sure, Comcast sucks now, but I have every confidence that they’ll get more responsive to their customers as they get more and more market share.

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