Friday, November 5, 2010

My call to Phil Griffin’s office on behalf of Keith Olbermann


As you know, Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely.

Twitter has gone completely ballistic, and many of us are petitioning, e-mailing, and calling on behalf of Keith. I just got off the phone with Phil Griffin’s assistant.

Let me begin by saying I am VERY friendly when I make calls like this. That keeps the other party on the phone longer and more receptive.

The first thing I told her was that I bet she’s getting a whole lot of calls, and she said, yes she was. I told her immediately why I was calling, and that I would be a friendlier voice. She seemed relieved. I said, “You must be getting some angry callers.” She said, yes, and that I was by far one of the nicest. Then I went on to say that I’d been trying to remain a voice of reason on Twitter, that I realized there are two sides to every story, that nobody out here knows all of the details of Keith’s contract, but that MSNBC should be aware of the number of angry people out there.

I also expressed my opinion, that I believe the suspension was overkill, despite not knowing all the details.

While others had reported that they got a chilly response, I have to say, the woman I spoke to was very calm and sweet.

I thanked her, wished her luck, and she assured me she’d pass on my comments.

I made sure the call was short and to the point.

I truly hope our efforts will make a difference. I do know that calm, reason, being armed with as many facts as possible, patience, and kindness go a long way.

We are up against a corporate monster here. We have to use our voices wisely, often, and loudly.

Rachel Maddow on suspended Keith Olbermann: MSNBC should reinstate him

Saturday, November 6th 2010, 11:15 AM

Rachel Maddow defended  Keith Olbermann, and said MSNBC should reinstate him.
Rachel Maddow defended Keith Olbermann, and said MSNBC should reinstate him.

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Rachel Maddow came to the defense of her suspended MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann, saying network chiefs have made their point and the "Countdown" host should be reinstated.

Maddow also sought to dispel claims that MSNBC is a left-wing version of Fox News, saying the Murdoch-owned broadcaster has a history of "not just giving money to candidates, but actively endorsing campaigns and raising millions of dollars for politicians and political parties."

"Their network is run as a political operation. Ours isn't," Maddow said during the final segment of her show Friday. "Yeah, Keith's a liberal, and so am I. But we're not a political operation - Fox is. We're a news operation."

Maddow added that the rules surrounding political contributions "are part of how you know that."

Olbermann was suspended without pay Friday for making donations to three Democratic candidates in this week's mid-term elections.

MSNBC rules state that staff can only make political contributions if you are given the all-clear from superiors in advance, which the star newscaster did not do.

He gave the maximum legal donation of $2,400 to two candidates in Arizona and one in Kentucky, but it did not come to light until it was reported by Politico.com.

"I understand the rule. I understand what it means to break it," Maddow said. "I believe everyone should face the same treatment under that rule. I also personally believe that the point has been made and we should have Keith back hosting Countdown."

cboyle@nydailynews.com

Taibbi: "We had a whole generation of journalists who sat by and did nothing while, for instance, George Bush led us into an idiotic war on a lie, plus thousands more who spent day after day collecting checks by covering Britney's hair and Tiger's text messages and other stupidities while the economy blew up and two bloody wars went on mostly unexamined ... and it's Keith Olbermann who should 'pay the price' for being unethical? Because, and let me get this straight, he donated money, privately, to politicians?"

Keith Olbermann delivers a Special Comment on MSNBC, 06/15/09. (image: MSNBC)
Keith Olbermann delivers a Special Comment on MSNBC, 06/15/09. (image: MSNBC)


Olbermann Suspension Is Lunacy

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

06 November 10



The powers that be at MSNBC have a real public relations nightmare on their hands. How do they explain not suspending their morning show host for making political contributions? They explained in 2007 that Joe Scarborough "hosts an opinion program and is not a news reporter." Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" is not an opinion program? And what about NBC execs? Check out this report at FAIR.org. -- SMG/RSN


ust quickly: I just found out about the suspension of Keith Olbermann for making political contributions. NBC apparently has some policy prohibiting journalists from donating to candidates, so they suspended him indefinitely without pay.

I went online and read the news and found the inevitable commentary by ostensible experts on journalistic ethics, who are all lining up to whale on Olbermann. One quote I found in this Bloomberg piece:

"Journalists who work for a news organization have an ethical responsibility to honor their guidelines and standards," said Bob Steele who teaches journalism ethics at Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. "If NBC and MSNBC spelled out those guidelines clearly and Olbermann violated those guidelines, then he should pay the price."

He should pay the price? Is Bob Steele kidding? What the hell is wrong with people?

We had a whole generation of journalists who sat by and did nothing while, for instance, George Bush led us into an idiotic war on a lie, plus thousands more who spent day after day collecting checks by covering Britney's hair and Tiger's text messages and other stupidities while the economy blew up and two bloody wars went on mostly unexamined ... and it's Keith Olbermann who should "pay the price" for being unethical? Because, and let me get this straight, he donated money, privately, to politicians?

This is absurd even by GE's standards. There is no reason, not even a theoretical one, why any journalist should be prevented from having political opinions and participating in election campaigns in his spare time. The policy would be ridiculous even if we were talking about an evening news anchor - because the only "ethical" question here is the issue of NBC wanting to preserve the appearance of impartiality and being unable to do so, because political contributions happen to be public record and impossible to hide from viewers.

Again, that would be true even if we were talking about Brian Williams or Tom Brokaw, someone from whom viewers expect a certain level of impartiality. But what Olbermann does is advocacy journalism and it's not exactly a secret. NBC punishing Olbermann for donating to Democratic candidates is like Hugh Hefner fining the Playmate of the Year for showing ankle. It's completely and utterly retarded.

These periodic spaz attacks the people in our business have over obscure and usually completely made-up ethical controversies - often over this whole "objectivity" issue, which provides a seemingly endless source of false piety for some of the more obnoxious journo-ethicists - are really irritating. I'm biased, obviously, because I'm a guest on the show, but this is beyond stupid. And by the way, has anyone checked the donation lists for CNBC anchors? I'm guessing a few of those have shelled out to the Rs. What's the deal, GE?

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