Sunday, November 7, 2010



By Reginald Johnson

Nov. 7, 2010

A strong grassroots effort has sprung up to fight the suspension of liberal commentator Keith Olbermann from MSNBC, as many worry that the cable news network may be heading in a more conservative direction.

The group Progressive Change Campaign Committee said Sunday it has gathered over 300,000 signatures on a petition demanding that MSNBC reinstate Olbermann to his show “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” MSNBC President Phil Griffin announced Friday that he was suspending the commentator “indefinitely” due to three campaign contributions Olbermann had made to Democratic candidates prior to the Nov. 2 election.

Griffin said NBC rules bar company employees from making political contributions.

But there may be a double standard at work here ---- since in the past MSNBC did nothing to penalize conservative commentators Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough from making donations to Republicans. The media advocacy group FAIR has also pointed out that the head of NBC, Robert Wright, has made political donations in the past as well.

There’s reports that NBC officials have been growing uneasy with the liberal face MSNBC is adopting, with the views of many of its hosts such as Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Ed Shultz. Is there a push going on now to create more “balance” by permanently removing Olbermann, and replacing him with someone more middle of the road?

The loss of Olbermann from one of the three major cable news operations (the others are FOX and CNN) would be a setback to progressives, who already struggle to get heard on the airwaves. FOX has long been a lost cause for liberals. Progressives rarely appear on FOX and if they do, they sit on panels of three or four speakers with all the others being conservative. The liberal gets shouted down. Evening hosts as well as some morning hosts on FOX are hopelessly right-wing and are running a blatant propaganda operation on behalf of the Republicans.

CNN, which tries to maintain an image of being centrist and non-partisan, has actually added a couple of right-wing commentators to its line-up in recent years – Erick Erickson and William Bennett.

So that leaves MSNBC, and why it’s important to bring Olbermann back. While far from being perfect (sometimes he can be too uncritical in analyzing different issues) Olbermann in general has been a big plus on the cable TV news scene. He frequently brings on progressive voices, and his commentaries over the years have been strong.

His “Special Comments” ripping the Bush administration for the lies concerning Iraq and the dismantling of civil liberties were particularly good.

To join the petition to reinstate Olbermann, go to

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