Monday, November 08, 2010

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:

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?

Well, whatever. We do that already, whether we like it or not. And I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how Keith responds to this whole ridiculous episode.

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  • Olbermann returning Tuesday is a victory for the First Amendment and the power of viewers to have their opinions heard.
    The only thing that could make this better would be if MSNBC found a permanent full-time role for fill-in anchor Thomas Roberts, who was dropped from CNN after refusing to hide the fact that he is gay.

    By Anonymous Charlie, at 7:47 AM  

  • For me, all would be forgiven if MSNBC would fire Scarborough. I find myself now cheering for an Alabama loss and I don't have a dog in that hunt!

    By Blogger Graphite45, at 11:13 AM  

  • It was an extremely stupid move from the start. But, money and profit have no ideology and rules were meant to be broken (especially patently dumb ones).
    I predicted online that the Big O would be back on Monday. I just missed it by one day.

    By Anonymous Jim Smith, at 11:19 AM  

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