Ex-Fox News Anchor Greta Van Susteren’s Failing MSNBC Show is Abruptly Canceled

Score one for the free market. Six months ago MSNBC hired Greta Van Susteren to host an early evening hour program. It was a peculiar choice considering the network’s success with their more progressive personalities in primetime. There was never a good case to be made for a former Fox News host succeeding on MSNBC. Their existing audience surely wasn’t clamoring for more Fox-style news analysis. And no one who watches Fox would be caught dead tuning in to MSNBC.

Greta Van Susteren

Nevertheless, the network’s management took the plunge. An apt metaphor considering how deep the ratings for Van Susteren’s show sank. The show was virtual sinkhole in the schedule. Both its lead-in and lead-out had more viewers and better ratings. People were clearly changing the channel when Van Susteren’s show started.

Van Susteren’s weakness occurred while the rest of the network’s program’s were soaring to record highs. Rachel Maddow has frequently beaten her Fox News competition and landed at the top of all cable news programming. The same is true for her colleague Lawrence O’Donnell. Van Sustern wasn’t even performing as well as Maddow’s and O’Donnell’s repeats.

So after six months, MSNBC management has seen the light and diplomatically announced a parting of the ways. Network president Phil Griffin said:

“MSNBC and Greta Van Susteren have decided to part ways. Greta is a well-regarded television veteran and one of only a few broadcasters who can say they’ve hosted shows at all three major cable news networks. We are grateful to her and wish her the best.”

Griffin also revealed that Van Susteren’s time slot will be filled by Ari Melber. Melber is the network’s legal analyst and host of the weekend show The Point. He has also been a frequent fill-in host for several of the network’s programs. He should be a capable, if not exciting, addition to the schedule. On the down side, he’s just another cable news white guy. Weekend anchor Joy Reid would have been a better, and more stimulating, choice.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It remains to be seen if MSNBC has realized the folly of their ways. They recently hired or promoted other right-wingers like Hugh Hewitt, Bret Stephens, Charlie Sykes, and George Will. And their big get, Fox News star Megyn Kelly, is already off to a disastrous start. Her NBC Sunday Night show premiered to abysmal ratings and went down from there. NBC execs are already somewhat frantic that she will kill the Today Show when she debuts in September. Time will tell.

MSNBC: Fire Phil Griffin And Rehire The Cheerios Tweeter

Remember way back about four days ago when Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, wet his britches over a tweet by someone at MSNBC that said that right-wingers would hate a new Cheerios ad that featured a biracial family?

The reaction from Priebus and the rest of the conservative throngs was to lash out at MSNBC and demand satisfaction for what they regarded as an insulting insinuation that there were racists in the ranks of the right. Priebus even threatened to boycott the cable network. Never mind that the tweet was thoroughly justified by the fact that right-wing racists actually did hate the very same biracial family when they appeared in a previous version of the ad. In fact, YouTube had to close off the comments on the video due to the volume of vulgar responses. That didn’t stop Priebus from throwing a tantrum and insisting on an apology.

In a classic demonstration of just how pusillanimous a corporate media weasel can be, the president of MSNBC, Phil Griffin, disgorged a sniveling apology and announced that the person responsible for the tweet had been terminated. It was an embarrassing supplication to conservative bullies whose outrage was transparently fake.

Coke - America

Be Sure To “LIKE” News Corpse On Facebook

Today we have additional evidence that Griffin’s knee-bending was uncalled-for. An ad for Coca-Cola aired yesterday during the Superbowl (video below) that featured Americans of various nationalities, races, religions, and cultures, all singing “America the Beautiful” in a rich tapestry of the languages that represent our country’s diversity. The response from conservatives to this heartwarming advertisement was predictably hostile. They lit up Twitter and Facebook with hateful messages vilifying Coke, as well as all Americans who do not fit the European, Caucasian mold favored by these bigots. Some of the more prominent feces-flingers were:

  • Todd Starnes of Fox News, who tweeted “Coca Cola is the official soft drink of illegals crossing the border.”
  • Tea Party ex-congressman Allen West, called the ad “a truly disturbing commercial,” because “the words went from English to languages I didn’t recognize.”
  • Michael Patrick Leahy of Breitbart News, who lamented that the “ad also prominently features a gay couple.” and somehow found a message in it that the U.S. “is no longer a nation ruled by the Constitution.”
  • Eric Bolling of Fox News, who objected to this use of a patriotic song saying “Don’t put it to ‘America the Beautiful.’ You used the wrong song.”
  • Armageddonist Glenn Beck, who inexplicably derived division from this ode to unity, saying “That’s all this is – to divide people.”

If anything exonerates the unjustly fired MSNBC tweeter, it is this parade of conservative xenophobes who validate the original message about right-wingers hating an ad that honors what really makes America beautiful: as the song says, brotherhood. And if anyone should be fired by MSNBC it’s Phil Griffin, the executive who didn’t have the balls to stand up for what’s right.

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.”

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Phil Griffin: MSNBC’s Embeded Fox News Groupie

I was reminded of an article I wrote last May by a Twitterer who apparently knows my work better than I do. Below are a few choice excerpts that paint a clearer picture of the man that just put Keith Olbermann on suspension.


Phil Griffin Of MSNBC ♥’s Roger Ailes Of Fox News
 

Roger AilesPhil Griffin, president of MSNBC, was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune and provided an outstanding example of the sort of clueless, illogical, journalistic myopia that is rotting away the American press. When asked about his rival Roger Ailes at Fox News, he gave an almost fawning response that makes one wonder if they are really rivals at all.

“He’s changed media. Everybody does news differently because Roger’s changed the world. Roger early on figured it out and was brilliant.”

Indeed. Roger Ailes changed media – for the worse! His “brilliant” idea was to transform the news into a rancorous, talk-radio style, shoutfest that manufactured conflict and spun every story as far to the right as their ideological wheel could turn. The inspiration behind Fox’s brand loyalty is talk-radio, soap operas, and tabloid news vendors like the National Enquirer.

[…]

If Griffin really believes that his mission is to emulate Fox from the opposite end of the political spectrum, he will only succeed in further debasing the media. In addition, he will miss the opportunity to effectively compete in the cable news marketplace. He needs to realize that, not being a news network, Fox is no more his competition than is Nickelodeon (which I’ve said before is a better source than Fox for news and plays to a smarter audience).

[…]

If Griffin were to apply basic fundamentals of entertainment to a more journalistically ethical approach he could attract a much larger and more loyal audience. He needs to give news consumers a little more credit for being discriminating, skeptical, curious, and capable of understanding the issues that bear directly on their lives. The last thing we need is more of the cheapening of journalism that Ailes has proffered. And we certainly should not be honoring him for the damage he has already done.


Why does MSNBC have a president who idolizes Roger Ailes? He should not be a role model for anyone who reveres journalism and public service. If there is any justice in this world Olbermann will be back on the air next week and Griffin will be suspended for incompetence and a debilitating lack of vision.

Keith Olbermann Suspended For Acting Like Fox

MSNBC released this notice today regarding their primetime host, Keith Olbermann:

“Msnbc TV host Keith Olbermann was suspended indefinitely on Friday for making campaign donations to three Democratic congressional candidates, apparently in violation of NBC News ethics policy. “

Upon learning of Olbermann’s contributions MSNBC took swift and decisive action to reprimand the talk show host. Some people may argue about whether the punishment is too severe, but I have to commend the network for maintaining a strict policy of ethical conduct. If Olbermann worked for Fox News he would be getting a bonus for this.

No matter what your political leanings (forward or otherwise), you must be accountable for your actions and you must adhere to the standards established by your employer and the journalism community. For the record, here is the policy MSNBC has for its staff:

“Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest. Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial positions. You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the president of NBC News or his designee.”

Olbermann apparently did not obtain the required approval for his contributions. Of course, it is difficult to see how his donations would have “jeopardize[d] his…standing as an impartial journalist,” in as much as he has never portrayed himself as either impartial or a journalist. What’s more, MSNBC has not been consistent in the execution of their policy as they have permitted Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan to continue working despite having made numerous political contributions.

Nevertheless, MSNBC chief Phil Griffin suddenly feels compelled to make an example of Olbermann. MSNBC personnel simply cannot be allowed to behave as if they were on Fox News. Unless, that is, they actually ought to be on Fox News like Scarborough and Buchanan. If you are contributing to Republicans, Griffin has no problem with it. Perhaps he is kissing up to his new bosses at Comcast in advance. For the record, here is the policy Fox has for its staff:

“The prohibitions and limitations on political contributions outlined above relate only to the use of corporate funds and services and are not intended to discourage employees from making personal contributions to candidates or political parties of their choice. Personal involvement in political activity is permitted as long as the activity does not interfere with or impair the performance of the employee’s duties for the Company. In addition, any employee who becomes involved with a political group must make it clear that his or her activities are being conducted purely in a personal capacity and not on behalf of or in connection with the Company.”

So at Fox there is virtually no barrier for employees who wish to donate time or money to political concerns. And dozens of them take advantage of that freedom every day. Even worse, Fox personnel from Sean Hannity to Dick Morris to Greta Van Susteren and more actively solicited donations for their pet GOP candidates and causes. Glenn Beck came right out and asked his viewers to donate so much to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that it would become their biggest fundraising day ever. And we know that the corporation has no barriers either as News Corp was caught making multimillion donations to GOP organizations. The last thing we need now is for other media figures to adopt the standards (or lack thereof) of Fox News.

For that reason it is important to insure compliance with strict standards for ethical behavior. Olbermann is being held to those standards even if other MSNBC personnel are not. Such inconsistency would make Phil Griffin a candidate for Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World.” Lucky for him that Olbermann has been suspended (and Olbermann also recently suspended that segment).


There is no indication from MSNBC how long the suspension will remain in effect. It could, however, be a thorny issue for them. Olbermann’s Countdown is the number one show on the network. He has almost single-handedly thrust MSNBC into the number two slot ahead of CNN. It would be in the interest of the network to keep the suspension short. They may also run the risk of alienating Olbermann who may find greener pastures elsewhere. CNN would very likely give him anything he wanted, including his present time slot that CNN is wasting with Parker/Spitzer. And can you imagine the success that MSNBC would have if they moved Scarborough into the 8:00pm slot?

The reactions to Olbermann’s suspension are already reverberating throughout the blogosphere. Some are calling for boycotts of NBC/MSNBC. That would be stupid. Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, and Lawrence O’Donnell had nothing to do with this.

The most likely reason for Olbermann’s suspension probably has nothing to do with ethics or political contributions. It is almost certainly related to Phil Griffin’s lust for power. With Jeff Zucker out as network CEO and Comcast looming on the horizon, Griffin sees this as an opportunity to elevate his status. Olbermann represents the 800 pound gorilla at MSNBC and Griffin gets to knock him down a peg by exerting this show of authority. That would explain why Griffin never demonstrated any concern for other MSNBC personalities who did the same thing Olbermann did. They didn’t have any of the heft that Olbermann has and thus it would serve no purpose to bother with them.

While Olbermann may have made a mistake by contributing to candidates when it is against company policy to do so, the punishment is far in excess of the crime, and it has been wielded in a grossly unfair manner. Griffin is revealing himself to be unethical and power mad (or at best a sycophant to his incoming masters).

NBC/MSNBC needs to set aside this unnecessary controversy that only benefits their competition. Fox, and their cultist followers, are reveling in this soap opera. They will get significant mileage out of asserting that MSNBC is unethical while remaining oblivious to their own infractions. That’s what makes this such a idiotic play even if there is some technical justification for it.

In the end it is terrible for business and the executives at NBC/MSNBC have a fiduciary duty to advance the interests of shareholders. So have your little suspension, get it over with, and put Olbermann back on the air by Tuesday.

You can help to resolve this mess by expressing yourselves to Phil Griffin and Co. here:

212-664-4444
phil.griffin@nbcuni.com

[Update:] Nice work, people. MSNBC/Griffin fold. Olbermann will be back on the air Tuesday, just as I demanded. Wow…I have more clout than I thought.

Phil Griffin Of MSNBC ♥’s Roger Ailes Of Fox News

Roger AilesPhil Griffin, president of MSNBC, was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune and provided an outstanding example of the sort of clueless, illogical, journalistic myopia that is rotting away the American press. When asked about his rival Roger Ailes at Fox News, he gave an almost fawning response that makes one wonder if they are really rivals at all.

“He’s changed media. Everybody does news differently because Roger’s changed the world. Roger early on figured it out and was brilliant.”

Indeed. Roger Ailes changed media – for the worse! His “brilliant” idea was to transform the news into a rancorous, talk-radio style, shoutfest that manufactured conflict and spun every story as far to the right as their ideological wheel could turn. The inspiration behind Fox’s brand loyalty is talk-radio, soap operas, and tabloid news vendors like the National Enquirer, a pseudo-news enterprise that is deliberately dishonest, but enjoys the rabid devotion of an undiscerning audience that is drawn to gossip, drama, and salaciousness. Fox is an entertainment company, not a news provider, as they have said themselves:

Roger Ailes: I’m not in politics, I’m in ratings

Rupert Murdoch: I’m not averse to high ratings.

Glenn Beck: I could give a flying crap about the political process. […] We’re an entertainment company.

If Griffin really believes that his mission is to emulate Fox from the opposite end of the political spectrum, he will only succeed in further debasing the media. In addition, he will miss the opportunity to effectively compete in the cable news marketplace. He needs to realize that, not being a news network, Fox is no more his competition than is Nickelodeon (which I’ve said before is a better source than Fox for news and plays to a smarter audience).

Griffin is not the only news professional to misread the market. Almost every executive and analyst has concluded that Fox’s ratings dominance is a function of ideology. But that is a shallow analysis that fails to address the real problem. People need to stop thinking of Fox as a network of conservatives that you counter with a network of liberals. The reality is that Fox is a network of liars that you counter with a network of truth tellers.

This approach doesn’t imply partisanship to anything other than facts. It also does not swear a blind allegiance to the thoroughly misconstrued concept of balance. A responsible journalist is under no obligation to balance a set of facts with a litany of lies just so that some other perspective is represented. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to a bland presentation of the events of the day. Important things are going on. No one can dismiss the inherent drama that is played out in the public debates over health care or immigration or Wall Street corruption. It doesn’t need to be contrived. It just needs to be told compellingly and honestly. I am convinced that there are more people in the TV audience who want useful, factual information, than there are people who want sobbing rodeo clowns drawing their divinely inspired delusions on blackboards.

If Griffin were to apply basic fundamentals of entertainment to a more journalistically ethical approach he could attract a much larger and more loyal audience. He needs to give news consumers a little more credit for being discriminating, skeptical, curious, and capable of understanding the issues that bear directly on their lives. The last thing we need is more of the cheapening of journalism that Ailes has proffered. And we certainly should not be honoring him for the damage he has already done.

Rachel Maddow At Top Of List For Show On MSNBC

The New York Times spoke with the newly named president of MSNBC, Phil Griffin, about the prospects for rising star, Rachel Maddow:

“At some point, I don’t know when, she should have a show. She’s on the short list. It’s a very short list. She’s at the top.”

There were reports last year that Maddow had made a pilot with Bill Wolffe. And there was much speculation surrounding the inevitable departure of the network’s biggest loser, Tucker Carlson.

As it turns out, David Gregory got Carlson’s spot. It seemed to me at the time that Gregory’s program, Race for the White House, had a built in expiration date. There wouldn’t be much appeal in such a show after the election. I surmised that:

“Gregory, as Senior White House Correspondent, knows there will be little happening on that beat for the remainder of the year. So he’s settling in to cover the campaign and he can return to the White House with the new president. Then maybe Maddow or David Shuster will get another shot at a show.”

Since then, Shuster has become a featured daytime anchor and Maddow a frequent guest on several network programs. Maddow could be a breakout personality for MSNBC. Especially if they let her express herself with the insight and humor that she has in abundance. MSNBC has an opportunity to produce a compelling and innovative program. Let’s hope they don’t blow it.

Tucker Carlson: A True Washington Story

Tucker Carlson True Washington StoryMSNBC is FINALLY taking a needed step, and not a moment too soon. David Gregory will replace Tucker Carlson. Now, instead of suffering through election season with an obnoxious dimwit, we will actually have some informed dialog and insight. I would have preferred Rachel Maddow, but MSNBC is trying to put forth more clout from NBC News, and she will almost certainly be a regular guest on the new program. Also, keep in mind the name of Gregory’s show: “Race for the White House.” What happens to this timeslot after November?

Gregory, as Senior White House Correspondent, knows there will be little happening on that beat for the remainder of the year. So he’s settling in to cover the campaign and he can return to the White House with the new president. Then maybe Maddow or David Shuster will get another shot at a show.

With news of the cancellation of trustfund pundit Tucker Carlson, it seems like a good time to look back on the events that led to this profound conclusion. (See Tucker Carlson Canceled for links to his dismal program performance).

It all started in a little mansion in San Francisco where the spawn of Republican ambassador and public broadcasting chief Richard Warner Carlson, and TV dinner princess Patricia Caroline Swanson, was ingloriously hatched. Thirty-eight years later it all comes screeching to a halt. Well, it actually just sort of peeters out, but that doesn’t sound quite as dramatic.

The writing has long been on the wall.

In October of 2006, Tucker responded angrily when asked about his future at MSNBC and whether he had already been cut:

“It’s bullshit. It’s total bullshit. I talked to Abrams last night. I’ve got another year on my contract. That’s my comment: Bullshit.”

I’m not entirely sure, but I think that Tucker considers this report to be some sort of bullshit. I could be wrong. This would have have placed his contract expiration some time in October of 2007. So in November of 2007 he signed off his show saying:

“That does it for us. Thank you for watching as always, we mean that sincerely to all eight of you.”

Sounds like he knew something. Maybe that’s why he chose to embarrass himself on “Dancing With The Stars” and taped a pilot for a game show called (I kid you not) “Who Do You Trust?” If he didn’t know something was up, he ought to have. After all, his boss, Phil Griffin, bragged to NPR about the network’s personalities saying:

“Keith Olbermann is our brand; Chris Matthews is our brand. These are smart, well-informed people who have a real sense of history and can put things in context.”

But when he was specifically asked whether Tucker Carlson is also their brand, he pauses and says:

“He is right now.”

There’s a real vote of confidence. And, predictably, the effort to Save Tucker fell flat on its face, even after he reportedly took a 50% paycut.

As far back as December, the rumors of Tucker being replaced were circulating. Prominent among them were reports that Rachel Maddow and Bill Wolff had taped a pilot that would fit nicely in the slot that Tucker was wasting.

Now that Tucker has bombed on on PBS, CNN, and MSNBC, some may think that it’s off to Fox News for him. But he has some history there that would need to be smoothed out first. In 2003, Tucker was asked on air for his home phone number. He thought it would be funny (in an infantile sort of way) to give out the number for Fox News instead. Not surprisingly, Fox was besieged by anxious Tucker “fans.” So Fox did what only Fox would do. They posted Tucker’s home number on their website asserting that they were merely correcting Tucker’s poor journalism. In a snit that ignored every trace of irony, Tucker called Fox News:

“…a mean, sick group of people.”

For those who think Tucker provided balance on the network, note that MSNBC already airs, in addition to Tucker, 3 hours of conservative Republican Joe Scarborough, and another two hours of Chris Matthews’ orchestrated hostility for Democrats. That’s five hours of right-wing propaganda against the one hour that Olbermann occupies. Where’s the balance in that?

Congratulations to David Gregory.

Tucker Carlson Gets A Vote Of No Confidence

MSNBC has been accused by many rightist pundits of adopting a liberal editorial policy. The sole basis of this charge appears to be the existence of Keith Olbermann’s Countdown. In an interview with NPR, MSNBC Sr VP Phil Griffin denies the charge saying that it is the host’s personalities, not their positions that make them popular. So Tucker’s already starting at a disadvantage. Griffin acknowledges that the network is trading on the audience identifying with the program’s anchors.

“Keith Olbermann is our brand; Chris Matthews is our brand. These are smart, well-informed people who have a real sense of history and can put things in context.”

That is an unequivocal expression of the faith Griffin has in Olbermann and Matthews. But when he is specifically asked whether Tucker Carlson is also their brand, he pauses and says…

“He is right now.”

Not exactly a vote of confidence. Griffin seems to be hinting that his answer might be different if you ask him again in a week or two. Looks like the only thing Tucker has to be thankful for is his well-connected family and a contract for an upcoming TV game show pilot. I still can’t get over this project – a remake of “Who Do You Trust?”

The remainder of the segment featured a couple of choice comments from Olbermann:

On his righteous cynicism: “We gave these people every benefit of the doubt. Our naturally contentious political arrangement in this country was silenced for well over a year after 9/11. We got hosed. We were manipulated. That trust that we put in these people, they did not deserve.”

On O’Reilly’s dementia: “As usual, Bill-O’s King Lear act, in which he threatens somebody with terrible consequences and boycotts and plagues of locusts, has produced nothing tangible other than making the object of his impotent rage richer.”

Speaking of Bill-O, his frantic efforts to disparage NBC and his nemesis Keith Olbermann (whom he refers to as “the smear guy”) are butting up against reality. O’Reilly has been falsely bashing NBC as a network in total decline, but the truth is that NBC News beat ABC and CBS in total viewers for the 2006/2007 season. And on the heels of Brian Williams’ appearance on Saturday Night Live, NBC has won the 25-54 demo for the month of November so far. O’Reilly’s analysis, as usual, is worthless, unless you’re really into childish fiction.