First of all, before reading further, help the Progressive Change Campaign Committee reach their goal of 250,000 signatures in support of Keith Olbermann. Sign the petition. Put Olbermann Back On The Air NOW! Last time I checked, there were over 240,000 signatures already. [See update below – exceeded a new goal of 300,000 Sunday night]
Comcast is the most hated company in America. Comcast lost 275,000 cable subscribers last quarter, and has lost 622,000 in the first nine months of 2010. Incidentally, Comcast’s stupid digital box gave up the ghost today, and they can’t send anybody to fix the problem until Monday. Viva UTOPIA!
Now it appears that Comcast COO Steve Burke, who will soon take over management of MSNBC once the Comcast merger is complete, may have had a hand in yesterday’s sudden suspension of Keith Olbermann. Burke has deep ties to the Republican Party, was a big Bush fundraiser, and was appointed to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology in 2002.
Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts tacitly acknowledged that he would be open to interfering with the editorial content of MSNBC shows and with hosts like Keith Olbermann:
Comcast is in line to acquire control of NBC Universal, once regulators sign off on the $30 billion deal. Mr. Chernin asked Mr. Roberts how he planned to handle daily editorial control of such an immense news operation. “Are you saying that you’ll never interfere?” he asked. Mr. Roberts blanched slightly at the question, which included a hypothetical situation that had Keith Olbermann, an MSNBC host, attacking a couple of Republican congressmen just as the approvals were being finished. “Let’s have that conversation in six months or 12 months,” Mr. Roberts said.
So let’s get the issue straight here. We can argue about journalistic ethics, but under our Constitution everyone has a right to contribute to political campaigns. It’s actually illegal for your employer to prohibit political donations. In fact, it’s extremely hard to find a cable news pundit who hasn’t made political donations. The Nation’s Washington editor Chris Hayes was tapped to fill in for Olbermann last night, but then it came out that he also gave to candidates. Which is why we saw Thomas Roberts (who?) on our TV screens instead (Hayes has denied that his donations, which pre-date his MSNBC contract, were an issue).
UPDATE: General Electric and Comcast executives are in an excellent position to criticize Keith Olbermann because their corporations never, ever, hand out political contributions. Oh, wait.
UPDATE: I want to give a h/t to Rachel Maddow for rallying to Keith Olbermann’s defense.
UPDATE: The petition drive sailed past the goal of 250,000 and as of 9:00 pm Sunday well over the new goal of 300,000. Meanwhile, MSNBC President Phil Griffin announced that Keith Olbermann will return to TV Tuesday night.
UPDATE: K.O. tweets “Greetings From Exile!”
UPDATE: Senator Bernie Sanders wants halt to Comcast-NBC deal after Olbermann suspension.