Call me a conspiracy theorist but I think this may be about right (via):
Susan Crawford, a former special assistant to President Obama for technology policy, sees a potential culprit in MSNBC’s decision to suspend anchor Keith Olbermann last week: maybe Comcast had something to do with it. Comcast is in the midst of a merger with NBC Universal, the owner of MSNBC.
Crawford, whose Twitter handle is @scrawford, tweeted on Saturday: “someone should find out whether any comcast connection to olbermann fracas – and remember Quiz Show plot line.”
Asked whether she was serious, Crawford confirmed that she was. She has previously raised concern that the merger might give Comcast the ability to tamper with MSNBC, which has a left-leaning reputation, in order to maintain a positive business relationship with Fox, which has a right-leaning reputation.
More generally, corporate-controlled media will always squelch any message that can be construed as anti-corporatist. I don’t watch “Countdown” and I don’t want to make Olbermann into a martyr here — and, yes, I’m sure he’s loving the publicity — but at a certain point, the coinky-dinkies start to add up, from Ashleigh Banfield to Phil Donohue to this.
You’re crazy if you don’t think that, in the absence of net neutrality legislation, they’ll eventually come for the blogs too.
I dunno, they have a written policy and KO violated it. He got suspended and reinstated. Everything doesn’t have to be the boogie man.
Another theory is that the dinosaurs in NBC management normally don’t pay attention to MSNBC, but KO anchoring the election coverage woke them up and scared them shitless, so they told Phil Griffin to shut him down. Corporate execs on the cusp of a merger that will line all of their pockets are going to be more nervous than a pregnant nun, and anything that might piss off the company they’re merging with will send them into a swivet, so I’d buy that explanation as much as I’d buy Comcast interference, not that they’re much different.
On the other hand: “…they’ll eventually come for the blogs too.”
That’s already underway….since last Tuesday.
J. Michael Neal
I still think the most plausible explanation is that Phil Griffin doesn’t like Olbermann (which in and of itself isn’t a knock against him, because I don’t think I’d like Olbermann, either) and found a reason to suspend him. Then the people upstairs got a say in it, after the publicity broke.
Not really sure why you think the blogs are such a threat to the establishment. Because of the way we engineered that socialist takeover of the banks? Or was it the way we
prevented endedcomplained about all those wars? Face it, this is the circus. Blogs keep people indoors instead of massing in the street.
My only hope in this entire fracas was that npr, cbs and abc would stop referring to MSNBC as the left-leaning equivalent to FNC. When Fox lets Bernie Sanders have a three hour morning show we can talk about equivalency then. (And, like most of my hopes, I expect these to be crushed as well.)
In a pending merger situation, the potentially more dominant partner (Comcast) didn’t need to do or say anything to effectively begin exerting ideological pressure…it’s highly likely that MSNBC President Phil Griffin was already putting pressure on himself to better position himself to save his own job, and that was all the motivation needed to decide to make a show that he had the correct-mindset for the incoming corporate environment, by taking a hard shot at Mr. Olbermann. This is the most insidious type of corporate pressure of all, where the rightward-leaning corporate overlords create a corporate culture where supposedly neutral market-and-business dollars-and-sense type rules are rigged up to produce business decision results more favorable to conservative tastes much more often.
WHEN THEY COME FOR THE BLOGS…it will be for ALL the blogs, not just the left-leaning ones. That’s because conservative-leaning media business can afford to sacrifice the effectiveness of right-leaning blogs like RedState in order to immensely handicap and dilute the effectiveness of left-leaning blogs like DKos and Balloon Juice; besides, what does Red State ever do for the bottom line of the corporate big media companies? Red State’s more of a PITA to them, pushing unelectable Tea Party candidates for Senate who defeat the more potentially electable corporate-friendly candidates the big media would prefer.
OT: but fodder for John….
They continue to have no clue at
@stuckinred: Did he work for NBC news?
Without knowing for sure what actually happened behind the scenes, of course, I’ll say anyway that it’s possible to carry the corporate-conspiracy theory too far. Separate from all the political stereotypes, the practical stereotype of corporate types — and one that I don’t think is off the mark at all — is that they love to make money. If Olbermann’s pulling in the advertising bucks, the suits aren’t going to worry a whole lot about any anti-corporatist message he’s peddling, and this dust-up starts looking more like a personal feud, a screw-up on Olbermann’s part, or a case of goofy company policy.
I’m not saying that this makes a corporate conspiracy impossible, mind you. But I do think it makes it look less likely.
Comcast will take a different tack to deal with MSNBC, the same tack they’ve already attempted (or successfully accomplished) in some media markets – to relegate MSNBC to a premium cable subscriber tier, while carrying Fox on every tier, including the most basic. They won’t try to eliminate MSNBC, or even make any real effort to change it’s relatively more liberal political orientation (to the extent this is even true)…rather, they will try to contain its effective reach to the minor niche leagues of the cable television world. It’s fine to let Rachael Maddow brilliantly analyze and skewer the blatant stupidity, sociopathic dishonesty, and disastrous blundering of GOP policy…so long as she’s confined to speaking to a relatively small audience of already firmly like-minded people, and cannot effectively reach most of the electorate.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Comcast was involved– they’re evil enough and stupid enough to try something like that. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be all that scandalous, IMO– a media corporation trying to control political expression? Jeepers, how non-unusual would that be? Comcast has a lot of company in being evil and stupid. It’s the way of the world.
Will the people making excuses please stop? Phil Donohue had a very highly rated show, but he was against the Iraq War, and a decades long career ended, like that.
Glenn Beck has sponsors dropping like flies, and he’s still on the air.
Is Olbermann a commentator, or a newsperson? Because that’s the distinction being drawn here, and I haven’t heard which way it’s supposed to swing.
This happened on DishNetwork. When I first subscribed to their most basic package the only news network offered was CNN. Sometime last year Faux News suddenly appeared on my list of subscribed channels, but MSNBC is still not offered on the basic package.
Why worry. It’s inevitable we will one day be fully ruled by corporate overlords.
Any opposition to our corporate overlords means you are an al-Qaeda loving America-hating terrorist.
@WereBear: But, but the invisible hand of the free market is infallible!
MSNBC has a market niche. As long Olbermann and Maddow make money for MSNBC by attracting an audience advertisers want (young and hip – this is also why Olbermann was so put out by Stewart’s criticism of him – it hurt him with his prime demographic). The sad fact is that “The Daily Show” remains the best “news” show on the air and it has never held itself out be anything but an entertainment. As Bob Somerby points out at the Daily Howler, MSNBC is mostly about giving us Lib-Dems/hippies a tribal thrill.
And Politico, it was the economy stupid. If the unemployment rate was 7.5 and going down it would have been a Democratic night.
The mainstream economists are predicting continuing recovery and the political forecasters are predicting an Obama fold on tax cuts. However, according to the N.Y. Times all these new Republican Governors and state legislatures are about lay off and cut the salaries of tens of thousands of state employees and cut job less and other transfer payments as they implement John Galt’s vision. And of course McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor are promising do the same thing to the Federal sector this Spring. At the same time austerity will really be biting in Europe on demand. If there is a stalemate on the tax cut issue and all the Bush tax cuts expire, there is good chance that the fable double dip will hit in the Spring and summer, especially if there shocks resulting from repeated Government shutdowns and temporary defaults on U.S. Treasuries and suspension of social security checks if the debt limit is not extended.
That could be it too.
“I don’t watch “Countdown” and I don’t want to make Olbermann into a martyr here”
It seems next to impossible to find any prominent liberal bloggers who will acknowledge watching Olbermann or even considering him anything more than a gasbag. Why?
He’s obviously opinionated and he’s emotional and even at times overwrought and histrionic. Granted. But he doesn’t make stuff up, and he’s often the only pundit who seriously tackles civil liberties stuff even when inconvenient because our Democratic administration is not on board. Plus, he has pretty much singlehandedly created a liberal niche on cable TV where there was none.
So, why such disdain for Olbermann from liberal bloggers I otherwise respect?
I agree with DougJ. They will eventually come for the blogs. And, I do think they’ll leave most of the conservative ones alone. After all, most of the TV talking heads lean right and the corporate overlords seem pleased.
I read Orwell years ago in college and things now seem eerily familiar. (Yes, I know I sound paranoid but it isn’t paranoia if someone really is out to get you. Last I heard, we are still at war with “Eastasia”…)
I don’t like tv or radio news of any kind except sometimes the BBC. I like to read it instead. I think it’s a control issue for me: I want to follow exactly what I want to follow and not be stuck with whatever they are covering that night
@Aris: “prominent liberal bloggers who will acknowledge watching Olbermann or even considering him anything more than a gasbag.”
I don’t think that is true at all.
DougJ, as an aesthetic judgment, I have no quarrel with anyone not watching anything they don’t like for whatever reason.
stuckinred, I do hope I’m wrong. I have the distinct impression from reading a number of liberal blogs talking about Olbermann over the last few days that I run into the preface, “I don’t watch Olbermann” way too many times. Right now I can only remember Digby being distinctly dismissive, so I hope I’m wrong and I over generalized.
But, but the invisible hand of the free market is infallible!
Fap fap fap.
I agree with you about net neutrality and the fate of blogs.
I don’t understand why sites like this don’t put more effort into rallying their readership to a cause so intrinsic to their survival (e.g., more than the occasional mention of the topic, or possibly a scary SAVE BALLOON JUICE! banner with a link to savetheinternet.com).
The Grand Panjandrum
Once again liberals get fisted by the invisible hand. Ouch!
I don’t know if I have ever read anything else by Ms. Jerome, but that is standard mainstream media phony balanced reporting. We have one network with a few hours of left-leaning programming and we also have one network that is for all intents and purposes the voice of the Republican Party but hey lets be fair Fox does have Shep Smith who quite often is willing to call the crazies out. 15-20 hours a week verses 15-20 minutes a week, maybe us liberals should just shut up and stop the whining. It could be worse, we could find out Lawrence O’Donnell is a socia1ist. Or something.
ABSOLUTELY blogs will get screwed by the loss of net neutrality.
Beyond blatant discrimination and the ability to directly block a blog, many blogs (and guess what – even conservative ones!) simply won’t be able to pay the gate fees that the end of net neutrality will bring.
For the life of me I cannot understand why so many conservative blogs and message boards not funded by the Kochs are against net neutrality. I guess they don’t want to, or believe they have the right to, continue to exist any more.
“…Fox, which has a right-leaning reputation.”
The same way the Elephant Man had a facial-abnormality-leaning reputation.