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Monday 8 November 2010

Phil Griffin’s Dilemma – Solved

As I posted the other day, MSNBC’s head man Phil Griffin simultaneously laid down the law and handed himself one big headache on Friday. He suspended his highest rating host, Keith Olbermann, “indefinitely and without pay” for making donations to political candidates in violation of the NBC employees’ code. But any lengthy loss of Olbermann would likely damage the channel’s ratings.

Moreover, there was condemnation from across the political spectrum, and the point repeatedly made that Olbermann probably benefitted the Democratic Party far more by his attacks on their opponents (and the right leaning part of the media) than by three 2,400 dollar donations. A petition for Olbermann’s reinstatement garnered over a quarter of a million signatures.

So push came to shove in short order: it has been announced by NBC that the suspension will end tonight, and Olbermann will be back on air tomorrow. One interesting additional insight came from Mike Allen, who has suggested that Griffin would not have suspended Olbermann, had his host made an on-air mea culpa.

But Allen’s thought that MSNBC is not so dependent on Olbermann I don’t buy: as I pointed out previously, the 2000 hours EST slot sets up the evening for the broadcaster. It’s also why CNN desperately needs Parker Spitzer to establish itself, as it goes out at the same time, and CNN now has the lowest ratings of the three main cable networks.

CNN’s problems will hardly be helped when Larry King Live (which occupies the 2100 hours slot) gives way to The Percy Moron Show. Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity are not reported to be quaking in their boots.

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