The return of Keith Olbermann
Well, that didn't take long, did it?
We learned over the weekend that Olbermann was suspended because he didn't apologize on camera, as if MSNBC just wanted him to grovel for his job, and now we learn that he'll be back on the air on Tuesday.
So much that that indefinite suspension. Here's the statement from the network:
STATEMENT REGARDING KEITH OLBERMANN - SUNDAY, NOV. 7
From Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC:
After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night's program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night.
Right. I'm sure the sudden 180 had absolutely nothing to do with the outpouring of support for Olbermann -- from all across the spectrum:
Over the past few days, a number of public figures have rallied behind Olbermann, who gave a total of $7,200 to three Democrats running for federal office. Even reporters and conservative pundits defended the MSNBC host. CNN's Eliot Spitzer called the punishment "ridiculous." Another MSNBC host, Rachel Maddow, immediately called for his reinstatement and used the opportunity to illustrate that her network is "not a political operation" like Fox News.
MSNBC, NBC, and their various corporate overlords should have to grovel at Olbermann's feet. He may not be absolutely essential to the network's fortunes, given the popularity of Maddow and (to a lesser extent) Lawrence O'Donnell, but it would be far less of a network without him, and it's already far less, in ratings terms, than Fox News.
Basically, what was clear from the very start of l'affaire Olbermann was that MSNBC didn't have a leg to stand on. Unless the whole thing was just a move to boost ratings, which is certainly possible, it was a move that was bound to backfire.
But here's the thing. If we tune into Countdown on Tuesday, and if the ratings (and revenues) are up, won't we just be enabling MSNBC and its corporate overlords?