As you probably already know from the mainstream media, Keith Olbermann’s Countdown had its last edition last night. In his last words on MSNBC, he expressed his gratitude to his viewers for supporting his show, “his gifted staff and just a few of the many people here who fought with me and for me Eric Sorensen, Phil Alongi, Neal Shapiro, Michael Weisman, the Late David Bloom, John Palmer, Alana Russo, Monica Novotny, my dear friends Rachel Maddow and Bob Costas, and my greatest protector and most indefatigable cheerleader the Late Tim Russert” while having never mentioned MSNBC President Phil Griffin and his manager. Rumors have it that his contribution to three Democratic campaigns, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a violation of NBC policies which prohibit any campaign contributions, were arguably the main reason why he had his contract terminated.
Phil Griffin’s and Keith Olbermann’s manager’s silence on requests to explain the liberal talk show host’s termination of his contract which wasn’t expiring for another two years, including MSNBC’s promotional ad featuring him 30 minutes after the show should be interpreted as lack of professionalism at best. Professionalism would require that they deny unwanted rumors such as the aforementioned one by deleting that part of the promotional ad. MSNBC knew about the termination of Mr. Olbermann’s contract ahead of time: “MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann’ will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC’s success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.” Not to mention that in his closing statement, Mr. Olbermann said that he “had been told… that this is going to be the last edition of your show.”
I wouldn’t be surpised if MSNBC terminated Keith Olbermann’s contract for his unwise decision to donate money to these three campaigns. After all, he was suspended for two days in November because of this revelation, and suspension in the working world usually means dismissal being taken into consideration, especially if a reinstatement back to work is not without the help of a petition, as was with his case, and not purely by a decision by his employer.
There is hardly anyone involved in politics in one way or another who would be surprised that if Keith Olbermann would make a donation to a campaign, it would be other than a Democratic one. Countdown with Keith Olbermann has been heavily partisan, particularly Democratic, since I first saw it – in 2007. And unlike liberal shows Hardball with Chris Matthews and the Ed Show, I have never seen a Republican or a Conservative invited to it to present their own views thus making me lose interest in it at one point.
What matters most here is his breach of his contract with NBC which, in my opinion, led to its termination. Neither the NBC Universal, nor Comcast who bought it should be blamed for this decision. By violating the NBC policy, Keith Olbermann technically showed disrespect for his employers’ policies and thus closed the door to his studio. Neither NBC nor Comcast should be blamed for having decided to end his contract. If he and his show stayed on MSNBC, that would undermine these policies by creating a precedent within the company which would likely lead to some kind of anarchy – a nightmare for every employer.
Meanwhile, I interpret NBC executives’ denial of the purchase of Comcast having anything to do with the termination of the network’s contract with Mr. Olbermann as nothing more than an effort to avoid any search for sensation by the mainstream media – something we are already aware it is capable of. Therefore, neither the NBC corporate officers’ nor the mainstream media’s reaction is a surprise to me.
Keith Olbermann’s future – uncertain and not on CNN
I have come across with speculations about Mr. Olbermann’s future in broadcast. Among them is a possibility that he joins CNN. On the one hand it makes sense, at least to the majority of the people who view CNN as a liberal channel, especially after he spent a certain time of his career as a freelance reporter. However, there are two considerable reasons why I can’t see him in CNN at least soon if not ever in the future.
First of all, a covenant not to compete is most likely considered in his contract with MSNBC. This condition prohibits him to work for a competitor, as CNN is to MSNBC, usually for the next 2-3 years.
The second reason why I can’t see him in CNN is that CNN, while considered liberal by a number of people, it generally struggles to retain a reputation of a fair and balanced channel. Inviting Keith Olbermann to the network would only mean putting an end to any belief that it is fair and balanced unless it manages to invite a conservative talk show host ahead of time to undermine it which is an unlikely scenario considering the overall dislike for it by conservative commentators that I have come across with both on talk radio and on TV.
Whatever Keith Olbermann’s future is, the liberal audience will be missing him at least in the near future or until a new liberal commentator, as passionate as he is, arises.