The world of cable news channels in the USA is not like any other, and the three main protagonists are regularly surrounded by rumour. Since Media Matters for America (MMFA) started to get inside information out of them, even more attention has focused on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). CNN’s often dire ratings fuel stories about changes there. And MSNBC, despite replacing CNN as second in this league, is rumoured to be a less than totally happy ship.
So it was not a complete surprise when MSNBC suddenly parted company with top rating host Keith Olbermann last night, the news only made public during the last few minutes of his show Countdown. Relations between Olbermann and head man Phil Griffin had apparently not been good for some time, but then, Countdown set up the evening for the channel in the same way that Bill O’Reilly does for Fox.
Rumours have already started as to why Olbermann left: the imminent takeover of NBC Universal by Comcast is widely cited but officially denied. There has been feedback from “an MSNBC source”, but then, organisations routinely make company spin available in off-the-record briefings.
The same source has made light of the forced reworking of MSNBC’s evening line-up, with Lawrence O’Donnell moving to the 8pm ET slot and Ed Schulz moving to 10pm ET (Rachel Maddow stays at 9pm ET). Schulz’ current 6pm ET slot goes to “Young Turk” Cenk Uygar, who has clearly benefited from being a recent target for partisan abuse by the increasingly scary looking Ann Coulter.
Sadly, the terms of the settlement reached between Olbermann and MSNBC may mean that he cannot host any program on a rival network for some time into the future (exactly how long is at present unknown), although he will doubtless appear on the talk show circuit, being a recent and popular guest on the Letterman show. But return he will.
Why so? Because even the cynical world of TV needs those who bring knowledge, clarity of thought, and sheer passion. Keith Olbermann brought all of that: you can see these qualities in his two most recent “Special Comment” pieces, which I referenced in recent posts HERE and HERE.
Until then ... Good Night, and Good Luck.