Keith Olbermann Quits MSNBC, Joins Fox News

* * * Psyche! * * *

Keith OlbermannA cable news bombshell was dropped this evening, but not the one in the headline above. And anyone who clicked on this article thinking it might be true should take a minute or two to have a little chuckle at your own expense.

The actual breaking news is that Keith Olbermann closed his program tonight with the announcement that it would be his last. That’s pretty shocking in and of itself. Countdown is the highest rated program on MSNBC. It has been the launching pad for the rest of the network’s primetime lineup and its ratings cornerstone. It isn’t often that a network will jettison its top fare without some compelling justification. Although it should be noted that MSNBC did it once before when they canceled the number-one-rated Phil Donahue Show. At that time it was conservative politics that precipitated the cancellation. One can only hope that it is not the same case here.

There has already been rampant speculation as to the reason for this split, most of it centering on the just-approved acquisition of NBC by the notoriously conservative folks at Comcast. I find it unlikely that the new management stepped in to abruptly set Olbermann adrift before they have even moved into their offices. But since speculation is the special of the day, I’ll add mine. Olbermann’s au revoir began with him noting that…

“I think the same fantasy has popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I’ve been told: That this is going to be the last edition of your show.”

Keith Olbermann has always been an artful author who chooses his words carefully. In saying that he was “told” that this show was his last, it is fair to say that the decision to leave was not his own. So what sort of issue could get a popular news anchor canned on such short notice? Generally it is either something he did recently, or something he was about to do. And since there doesn’t appear to be any event in the recent past that might have gotten him in trouble, it is more likely that there was some conflict with where Olbermann wanted to go in the future. My guess is that he wanted to cover a major event in the world of television news: The Comcast acquisition of NBC.

If Olbermann were to produce a report on this merger, I would expect that he would insist on addressing the passionate opposition to it. Most progressive media reformers have been lobbying mightily to prevent the merger from going through. Coincidentally, today happens to be the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s disastrous support for corporations over people in the Citizen’s United decision. There may have been an irresistible temptation for Olbermann to comment on the loss of rights for average Americans resulting from the CU case in the context of a media merger which puts even more power into the hands of a giant corporation. And if Olbermann pitched this story to his bosses who are presently jockeying to keep their jobs post-merger, they may have forbade him to do the report. And that could possibly have led to a heated disagreement and a parting of ways.

[NOTE: Sign this petition from MoveOn to Support a Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Citizens United: Corporations Are Not People]

Phill GriffinOf course, this is just conjecture. No one will know what the real low down is until the parties involved spill the beans and, as of now, no one’s talking. However, it would be in line with the management philosophy of Olbermann’s boss, Phil Griffin, who is an admirer of Roger Ailes, the CEO of Fox News.

The biggest unanswered question after why is where. What will happen to Olbermann going forward. CNN stands as the biggest potential beneficiary. If the 3rd place network were able to snap him up it would deliver another million or so loyal viewers. But the hardest part of this to understand is how Olbermann, a caring, passionate, honest, progressive voice has lost his job, while Glenn Beck, a hostile, lying, egomaniacal, rodeo clown remains employed even after telling his viewers that to stop progressives “You’re going to have to shoot them in the head.”

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10 thoughts on “Keith Olbermann Quits MSNBC, Joins Fox News

  1. Corporate money is why Beck the corporate shill is still on. As to why KO is gone, might be the same reason, who knows beyond the parties involved. We may never know but the one thing I do know is that MSNBC has no loyalty to its viewers. They sent us a big FU after a few little ones so F them back. They are dead to me.

  2. Hey Mark, a successful rich guy gets canned (or whatever happened) – I thought that would make you happy. Maybe he’ll donate his paycheck for the remainder of his contract to the government – he couldn’t possibly need it – right?

  3. “…They are dead to me…”

    Uh-oh. Some blogger over at the Daily Kos used that phrase to describe Gabrielle Giffords a month before the shooting (Kos took that post down after the shooting). Does this mean MSNBC needs to tighten up security?

  4. Mark,

    To understand why Beck still has a job while Olbermann doesn’t, you must first understand how the right-wing approaches the use of money.

    Beck still has a job because right-wingers generally Don’t.Care.How.Much.It.Costs to get their p.o.v. into the public eye. Rupert Murdoch is wealthy. More importantly, however, he’s an ideologue. As an ideologue, he understands the message is worth more than any amount of money.

    Our side, however, wants “return on investment.” In other words, the money means more than the ideology. George Soros, for instance, could buy Rupert Murdoch for what he’s worth several times over. Mr. Soros is THAT liquid and THAT rich. Like other wealthy liberals, however, he counts cost ahead of outcome-based dynamics. The money is more important than the ideology.

    I realize it’s bass-ackwards from how we tend to view Conservatives vs. Liberals in terms of money, but it appears to be empirically true.

    Only when the message becomes more important than the cost will our side begin to close the message-gap with the right-wing.

  5. The Becks, Limbaughs and O’Reilly’s of the world continue to blather
    because they believe the corporate bull and peddle it to the masses.
    Stupidity, ignorance, no morals, empathy & compassion are rewarded. As seen in the constant parade of “reality” shows available
    on most every channel. They are distracting, lying, lulling people to sleep mentally. Meanwhile the powers grind out the war machine,
    deny people healthcare, decent wages & bring the country to financial and moral ruin. Voices of reason and truth (Mr.Olbermann)are silenced and taken off the air. More to come,

  6. If Olbermann had stopped being a juvenile asshole by making vile personal attacks on people he might have kept his job.

    Good riddance I say.

    • By that standard Glenn Beck should have never been given a television show.

      And as my subsequent post on this subject shows, it is looking more like Olbermann was the initiator of this separation. If so, he didn’t lose his job at all – he resigned to pursue other opportunities.

      • “it is looking more like Olbermann was the initiator of this separation. If so, he didn’t lose his job at all – he resigned to pursue other opportunities.”

        If you believe that I have some swampland in Florida for sale.

  7. “..he resigned to pursue other opportunities…”

    Snort…giggle…bwaaaahahaha!! Maybe he initiated the separation on Friday, but he was getting out while the gettin’ was good, if that’s the case. All of the reports now indicate that his relationships with his bosses (and probably some of his colleagues) were all in the crapper. They were getting real tired of his antics.

    Besides, it fits the pattern of his previous gigs. As one source put it over at ESPN, “He didn’t burn his bridges at ESPN, he napalmed them.”

  8. KO is doing the right thing. Getting out while the getting is good. Before Comcast sells the business to the wild-eyed right-wingers at FOX and turns the whole station into a religious rally! Keep fighting for what we believe in – higher taxes, bigger government, better life through regulation. And to those who have threatened violence at Beck, more power to ya. There’s others yet to be covered, you know.

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