Kieth Olbermann returns to his MSNBC show this evening after a two day suspension for violating company policy by donating to political campaigns in the recent midterm election. The timing of Olbermann’s suspension seemed wierd, given the recent flap between Keith and Jon Stewart over Stewart’s implication during his recent Sanity Rally that lefty commentators are just as divisive as righties, that MSNBC is no better than Fox.
There’s an old adage in law that goes “If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have neither the law or the facts on your side, pound the table.” While right wing turds like Glenn Beck have made millions by pounding the table, as a rule, Olbermann pounds the truth (and only occasionally the table), and his umbrage over Stewart’s “false equivalency” is well founded. But aside from that, there’s something else that’s stinky about this whole affair. Here’s a brief chronology of the recent events:
Stewart hosts his weekend event in D.C., partially in response to Beck’s ego-fest. He calls out “cable news” as part of the problem.
Olbermann responds the following Monday, expressing his astonishment that he has been lumped in with Beck and Bill O’Reilly. As a cop to Stewart’s claims, he “suspends” his Worst Person in the World segment because, apparently, it’s considered too vindictive.
Stewart returns to the studio and, 2 nights later, interviews Fox news clown Chris Wallace. While lavishing praise on Fox for their election coverage, he refers to MSNBC as the equivalent of double A baseball:
“It’s interesting that in some ways, MSNBC—by trying to maybe become a version of that… You cannot defeat Fox by becoming what they say you are. If Fox’s game is, “the media’s biased against Republicans,” all you are doing is giving them that field. The only way you can defeat them is through, like, an earned credibility, not an earned partnership. They are making a mistake by becoming equivalent to Fox rather than becoming a brand new journalistic organization.”
On Friday of the same week, HBO smirkster Bill Maher jumps into the fray, defending Olbermann:
“Keith Olbermann is right when he says he’s not the equivalent of Glenn Beck. One reports facts the other one is very close to playing with his poop. And the big mistake of modern media has been this notion of balance for balance’s sake. That the Left is just as violent and cruel as the Right…there’s a difference between a mad man and a madman.”
Then on Sunday, it was announced that Olbermann would be suspended indefinitely and without pay for his unauthorized campaign contributions. (A further irony is that Olbermann has practically owned the story about undisclosed contributions to the Chamber of Commerce that have been used to smear Dem candidates.)
Ok, so maybe this all adds up to a series of inconsequential coincidences, but am I the only person that finds it a bit odd that the 3 most prominent progressive voices in the media engage in a week long pissing contest, culminating in Olbermann’s suspension? Keep in mind that MSNBC’s bosses, General Electric, are waist deep in the military-industrial complex and are soon to merge with Comcast, headed by long-time Bush suck-up Steven Burke. And in addition to MSNBC, G.E. also brings us the pro-corporatist creepfest CNBC, featuring a steadydiet of loud mouth Wall Street shills like Jim Cramer and Larry Kudlow.
Maybe all this was merely the collision of massive egos and maybe MSNBC was, coincidently, merely enforcing in-house rules about campaign contributions. But even so, the terrain has shifted. The recent Republican congressional ass whoppin’ seems to have everyone looking over their shoulders and hedging bets. Lessons have been taught and lessons have been learned. My bet is that the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” will be striking a more “fair and balanced” approach for the forseeable future. And that Fox News, further emboldened, will continue to pound the table.