In short, Olbermann just got Dan Rathered by GE. Scared of losing influence with the Republicans in Congress, GE Executives cravenly did what they do best: protect their bottom line. Suspending Olbermann had nothing to do with drawing "a distinction between the journalistic standards of their news division and the standards of Fox." GE's own record of political contributions makes that very clear. MORE...Ben Smith:
It's hard to see the Olbermann suspension as entirely different from the Juan Williams firing: An excuse to go after a guy who has legendarily difficult relations with management."The Two Underlying Reasons Keith Olbermann Was Suspended Today" (Steve Krakauer):
Sargent notes that Joe Scarborough gave some money to a House Republican in 2006 and that Pat Buchanan gives to candidates; Chris Hayes, Olbermann's substitute, has given the occasional political money. MORE...
Two years ago Keith Olbermann was MSNBC. In many ways, he was untouchable, and knew it. In a New Yorker profile in June 2008, he joked that his boss, Phil Griffin, “thinks he’s my boss.” Around the same time, a high level MSNBC source told me, “He is not central to MSNBC, he is the center of the MSNBC ratings strategy. We hang the entire schedule on him.”
But that’s changed. Now, Rachel Maddow is getting better ratings than Olbermann in the key A25-54 demographic, and Lawrence O’Donnell isn’t far behind. Olbermann is no longer the center of the strategy either – as the network has unveiled a vibrant, massive new campaign “Lean Forward” which focuses on half a dozen members of the MSNBC talent pool.
MSNBC executives – and executives even higher up the ladder – have to feel secure in their position in the cable news battle, even if Olbermann never returns to the line-up. Which brings us to reason number two: Comcast. The imminent merger and ultimate takeover is a tricky business maneuver, that both GE and Comcast have to be aware of. It has the attention of the government, and it has the attention of the competition. The company doesn’t need bad press right now – especially not one that’s political in nature. It also doesn’t help when Olbermann has previously tweeted things like Comcast wanting “to go more liberal” (a claim that doesn’t seem to be backed up anywhere). And on top of all that, this comes as NBC News appears to want to distance themselves from their more partisan cable channel.
Indeed, MSNBC management is striking at two birds with one stone here: Olbermann and, in the contrast, Fox, whose hosts Sean Hannity and Neil Cavuto, not to mention Huckabee, have given to political candidates, as Media Matters was quick to circulate.
The suspension does seem to cut hard, though, against the source of MSNBC's success, its unabashed liberalism in prime time. MORE...