05 November 2010

Olbermann Does More Than Lean Forward

During this election cycle, MSNBC news anchor Keith Olbermann donated the federal maximum amount of $2,400 to three Democrat candidates. This is a prima facie breach of NBC corporate policy, which forbids monetary contributions to political causes as it compromises journalistic independence.

Aside from ignoring corporate policy, Olbermann also complicated MSNBC’s public relations campaign.  Despite launching a two year, multi-million dollar campaign of positioning MSNBC as a network that “Leans Forward”, MSNBC was snipping at its rival’s parent company’s corporate contribution.  MSNBC President Phil Griffin needled News Corporation for a million dollar contributions to the Republican Governors’ Association.  Griffin denied that MSNBC was the flip side of Fox News by asserting “Show me the fund-raising”.  Well, res ipsa loquitur.

Another inconvenient truth about Olbermann’s contribution is the timing.  One contribution was to Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ 7th) who was locked in a tight re-election race against a strong tea party challenge by Republican newcomer Ruth McClung.  Olbermann made a contribution to Grijalva on October 28, 2010 the same day that he conducted a prime-time interview with Grijalva.  Granted, critics of the Lamestream Media have always thought that liberals made in-kind contributions to their cause with slanted coverage.  But the timing of this contribution illustrates a causal nexus for jaundiced journalism.

To be charitable, Olbermann may be incapable of taking directions.  Consider his publicity shot for MSNBC’s Lean Forward campaign.  The bloviating anchor chose to lean back, which some might say is symbolically significant.   After this episode, perhaps we will hear less of Olbermann’s sanctimonious shtick of an angry leftist. Hope for change springs eternal.

UPDATE 11/05 MSNBC suspended Olbermann without pay over the indiscretion. Now they will have space in their lineup for Alan Grayson once he finishes his gig in Congress.

Glenn Beck had fun with the hypocrisy of Olbermann's claim that he does not vote in order to remain impartial yet he got caught contributing to partisan candidates.

UPDATE 11/08 MSNBC announced that Olbermann will be back from his "indefinite" suspension after two broadcast days. It makes one wonder if it was just a craven publicity stunt to give the illusion that MSNBC is a news network rather than a propaganda arm of the DNC.

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