Did COMCAST Fire Keith Olbermann?

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]

OlbermannComcast 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.

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on November 6, 2010 - 8:43 pm

    This further solidifies Keith Olbermann’s status as a God.

    Comcast sucks! Always has, always will!

  2. #2 by Larry Bergan on November 6, 2010 - 8:55 pm

    Keith quit his miserable job at CNN because of the Clinton impeachment nonsense. He has integrity; comcast has none. combast should be in prison for trying to sequester the first amendment on television and the internet.

  3. #3 by Larry Bergan on November 6, 2010 - 9:14 pm

    The new ads from combast promise a perk to adherents who need service. It puts all of the pressure on it’s slaves employees. If the poor bastards don’t show up on time, the adherents get some money.

    Didn’t domino’s have to stop that practice? I’m thinking car wrecks.

  4. #4 by Richard Warnick on November 6, 2010 - 9:19 pm

    I’m waiting for the inevitable Comcast designated blog commenter to show up here. But maybe they’re not available on weekends either. ;-)

  5. #5 by brewski on November 7, 2010 - 9:05 am

    Richard, can you explain to me why it was ok for NPR to fire Juan Williams and not ok for MSNBC to suspend Keith Oblermann? And please give me a reason other than you like Olbermann and don’t like Williams. Give me an objective reason that also has to work if the roles were reversed.

  6. #6 by Richard Warnick on November 7, 2010 - 12:32 pm

    brewski–

    Apples and oranges. Juan Williams was fired for something he said on the air that was incredibly stupid. I could also point out that Williams was immediately offered a multi-million dollar contract by Faux News, while Olbermann is out on the street.

    I believe, but can’t prove, that Olbermann is being singled out because he questions the corporatist direction of the country. Remember Aaron Brown and Ashleigh Banfield? Of course you don’t. They were taken off the air and kept under contract to silence them. There’s even a precedent at MSNBC — Phil Donahue hosted their highest rated show but was fired anyway for opposing the invasion of Iraq. Which MSNBC then gleefully covered, even composing an invasion theme song!

    Comcast is attacking net neutrality. Olbermann is trying to defend it. That’s probably what this boils down to. Much as I like Rachel Maddow, I doubt if we’ll hear much from her on the subject of net neutrality because Cisco sponsors her show.

  7. #7 by brewski on November 7, 2010 - 12:59 pm

    So you would be ok if Olbermann was fired for saying something stupid as long as he got another job quickly.

    For what it is worth, two of my best friends who voted for Nader refuse to listen to either Olbermann or Maddow due to their stupidity. One of my friends is a career lefty environmental regulator for a state government and the other is a career non-profit health care manager. I guess they are wingnuts.

  8. #8 by Richard Warnick on November 7, 2010 - 1:13 pm

    brewski–

    Please, put the Kool-Aid down and step away with your hands in plain sight. This is for your own good.

    The people who are up in arms about Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez don’t understand the difference between free speech, as guaranteed by the Constitution, and the world of the media where people are paid millions of dollars to speak. This is not a free speech issue. The reason Williams was immediately hired by Faux News is because he’s a corporatist.

    I’m simply pointing out that Keith Olbermann is being targeted by corporate political opponents who will soon own the network.

  9. #9 by Larry Bergan on November 7, 2010 - 2:12 pm

    brewski said:

    So you would be ok if Olbermann was fired for saying something stupid as long as he got another job quickly.

    Exactly what job is that? A job in the liberal media?

    Give me a break!

  10. #10 by brewski on November 7, 2010 - 2:14 pm

    So what you are saying is whether it is ok to fire a commentator is based on his ability to get another job quickly?

  11. #11 by Larry Bergan on November 7, 2010 - 2:17 pm

    Look at me! I’m asking a ghost to give me a break!

    What have I become?

  12. #12 by Larry Bergan on November 7, 2010 - 2:20 pm

    OMG!

    brewski reiterated his lie while I was typing!

  13. #13 by brewski on November 7, 2010 - 2:38 pm

    Larry,
    Explain to me how increasing the supply of anything raises its price. I’m listening.

  14. #14 by Larry Bergan on November 7, 2010 - 8:00 pm

    brewski:

    I have no idea where your last question came from, but I won’t argue against it.

    Scarcity has always resulted in a higher price, therefore: Keith Olbermann should be the highest paid journalist in America.

    Plus; he’s a journalist, not an opinionist.

  15. #15 by Richard Warnick on November 7, 2010 - 8:59 pm

    UPDATE: MSNBC President Phil Griffin has announced that Keith Olbermann will return to TV Tuesday night.

  16. #16 by Demosthenes on November 8, 2010 - 11:57 am

    YES! Another lib bites the dust!

    To bad for all those lib pseudo-bloggers out there who spend the majority of their time parroting Olbermanniac rhetoric. At least they still have Maddow to think for them and tell them what to say…

    Or do they? Great vid link from the author!

    I was wondering when Maddow was going to try and make a comparison between Obermannic’s contributions and Fox news opinion hosts in an attempt to gain some higher moral ground for the MSNBC corporate heads. Maybe if Maddow doesn’t like having her freedom of speech interfered with by her employer this way she should consider applying for a job at FOX where they appear to respect the constitutional rights of their hosts.

    Notice that NOT EVEN ONCE does she even hint at the idea that Obermanniac’s rights were being violated by her employer as the author here has.

    “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.”

    Of course if she did blow the whistle against the corporate leadership at MSNBC, she might loose a bit of that high moral ground that she was working so hard to gain in this piece. So, which is more important to a liberal? Being a pseudo impartial political critic or supporting the constitution? Nice spin on the part of Maddow though, trying to make it seem like having her freedom of speech limited by MSNBC is actually a sign of being impartial.

    For those libs out there like this author who are crying about freedom of speech, remember that it is your beloved MSNBC that has long placed such speech restrictions on their hosts, NOT FOX. Also, remember that these restrictions were in place long before MSNBC had anything to do with Comcast. So much for the conspiracy theory, eh?

    How can you really trust the “opinions” of the opinion hosts at MSNBC when you know deep down in your heart that a dark, greedy, capitalistic entity is monitoring and approving of everything they say and do in both their public and private lives?

    I personally think that rather than putting together some phony bologna petition, all the libs out there that are outraged should sue MSNBC along with Olbermanniac. Sue them till their coffers run dry and the channels goes the way of the dodo.

    Also, any true blue liberal would turn off Maddow in protest for not being willing to stand up to her employer and blow the constitutional whistle, ON THE AIR!

    Just another in a long list of sad days for liberals.

    Here’s a great quote from FOX on this subject…

    “Even the most lefty network in the universe had to swallow its pride and suspend him. NBC execs claim KO violated journalistic standards that no one – left or right – felt applied to him because only NBC actually considered him a journalist. Actually, few even considered him sane, luckily not a job requirement at MSNBC. His nightly bile was so laughable that he was a self caricature. When “Good Will Hunting” star Ben Affleck lampooned Olbermann on “Saturday Night Live,” he couldn’t muster rants near as outlandish as the real thing. It was such a sad exercise, Affleck made himself laugh.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/11/06/did-dem-donations-score-final-ko-keith-olbermann/

  17. #17 by Richard Warnick on November 8, 2010 - 12:35 pm

    So, the problem is twofold: (1) Maddow tells me what to say, and (2) I’m saying something Maddow never said. ;-)

    BTW, the Constitutional right of free speech isn’t at issue here. Keith Olbermann is paid $7 million a year to speak on TV. If he has to do it for free, are his rights being violated?

  18. #18 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on November 8, 2010 - 12:41 pm

    Yeah. Rather than prohibit their freedom of speech, Fox just makes sure not to hire anyone who might say something they don’t approve of—and they ride the wave of blind, cheerleading support from viewers who can’t help but swallow whole everything Fox anchors say in their desperate attempt to have their martyrdom syndrome validated on-the-air.

    Give me a break. Recognizing the difference between freedom of speech and freedom of the press might help a bit here. When speaking as a member of the press, you are held to a different standard. And freedom of speech isn’t even an issue here, anyway! It’s connection with campaign contributions is tenuous at best, especially considering how incredibly limited individual campaign contributions are relative to common corporate contributions.

    But it’s a good thing we have Dan Gainor at Fox to interpret this event for us. Only a “Fair and Balanced” “News” show could let itself be represented by such a vitriolic criticism of vitriolic criticism.

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  19. #19 by cav on November 8, 2010 - 12:48 pm

    It’s lamentable (remove snark tags), but today I had to give pink-slips to a number of corporations whose services had begun to slump. They held themselves to be indispensable, and I had to correct that misconception.

    They will not be missed.

  20. #20 by Tiller on November 8, 2010 - 1:15 pm

    Dwight they are in business to make money. No one listens to progressive hosts on television enough to generate any ad revenue. Simple. Maddow maybe gets 1/5th the viewers as Fox’s lowliest show host.

    Fox news is a business, and entertainment as well.

  21. #21 by Demosthenes on November 8, 2010 - 1:36 pm

    Mr. Warnick says, “BTW, the Constitutional right of free speech isn’t at issue here.” Right after saying, “but under our Constitution everyone has a right to contribute to political campaigns.”

    The proof is in the pudding… This just shows that someone can be trained to parrot even conflicting statements.

    Which is it? Is Olbermanniac’s rights being infringed by MSNBC or not? Conversely, is FOX more “Fair” than MSNBC by allowing it’s opinion hosts to contribute to and raise money for whomever they wish?

    As far as first name Dwight middle name Sheldon last name Adam’s assertion that we all need to take a course from him on Constitution Law to understand the difference between freedom of the press and freedom speech, what a joke! It’s the same old liberal crap about only the liberal elites being able to understand anything so we should all defer to them to tell us what to think.

    Settle down first name Dwight middle name Sheldon last name Adam’s, the grownups are talking here.

    The most ridiculous thing about his last statement is the fact that it implies that he is perhaps the only person on the face of the planet that actually believes that Olbemanniac was a “journalist.” He’s no journalist! He’s an “analyst” who is paid to give his fundamentalist leftwing opinion on current events so that MSNBC can sell ads to companies that want to sell crap made in China to liberals. Welcome to the world of Capitalism fellas!

  22. #22 by Richard Warnick on November 8, 2010 - 2:04 pm

    Who says money = speech? Not me.

  23. #23 by Demosthenes on November 8, 2010 - 4:49 pm

    Who cares what you say or believe Mr. Warnick? The Supreme Court of the United States of America agrees that the Constitution protects giving money as a form of speech!

    “Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States upheld a federal law which set limits on campaign contributions, but ruled that spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech, and struck down portions of the law. The court also stated candidates can give unlimited amounts of money to their own campaigns.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckley_v._Valeo

    Talk about a self righteous liberal tard!

  24. #24 by Richard Warnick on November 8, 2010 - 5:03 pm

    What did I say that’s incorrect in your view? If MSNBC wanted to fire Keith Olbermann for something he said or for campaign donations he made, they are free to do so because Olbermann does not have a constitutional right to get paid by MSNBC.

    What MSNBC cannot do is prohibit Olbermann from speaking or donating.

  25. #25 by Demosthenes on November 8, 2010 - 5:47 pm

    Mr. Warnick,
    First you write,

    It’s actually illegal for your employer to prohibit political donations.

    Then you follow up with,

    If MSNBC wanted to fire Keith Olbermann for something he said or for campaign donations he made, they are free to do so because Olbermann does not have a constitutional right to get paid by MSNBC.”

    It would appear that you are saying that MSNBC is free to fire Olbermanniac for making a contribution even though it is “ILLEGAL.” Better get your story straight there Warnick! That’s two conflicting statements you have made in one thread.

    I wonder… Are you down with your boss firing you for something you write publically here or for contributing to the “wrong” candidate? If your employer had such a contractual requirement would you sit silently and tow the corporate capitalist line the way Maddow does or would you speak out?

  26. #26 by Richard Warnick on November 8, 2010 - 7:24 pm

    These two statements are logically consistent:

    (1) It is illegal for an employer to prohibit political donations.

    (2) If you make a political donation that your employer doesn’t like, they can fire you after the fact.

    I live in Utah, which is an “at will” state. Meaning anyone can be fired for no reason (or any reason). It’s possible other states regulate conditions of employment closely enough to give discharged employees a cause of action.

  27. #27 by Demosthenes on November 9, 2010 - 6:24 am

    Are you kidding us Mr. Warnick? This is the argument that you have retreated to? Wouldn’t it just be easier to admit you were wrong rather than digging yourself in even deeper?

    “I live in Utah, which is an “at will” state. Meaning anyone can be fired for no reason (or any reason).”

    This is plainly untrue!

    An employer may not fire you for just “any reason” as you’ve suggested. While an employer generally does not have to publically state the “cause” for a termination in an “at will” state, they are still prohibited from firing an individual in violation of federal and state statues (called the public policy exemptions.) “At will” status merely shifts the burden of proof to the individual who was fired for proving that the action was discriminatory or illegal (against public policy.)

    “Your Rights as an At-Will Employee
    Even if you are an at-will employee, you still cannot be fired for reasons that are illegal under state and federal law. In these situations, the government has decided to make an exception to the general rule of at-will employment.
    For example, if your employer is subject to federal and state laws prohibiting job discrimination (as all but the smallest employers are), you cannot be fired because of certain characteristics, such as your race, religion, or gender. (For more information on discrimination, see Nolo’s article Your Rights Against Discrimination and Harassment.) Similarly, you cannot be fired because you have complained about illegal activity, about discrimination or harassment, or about health and safety violations in the workplace (see Nolo’s article Assert Your Safety Rights Without Fear of Retaliation). And you cannot be fired for exercising a variety of legal rights, including the right to take family and medical leave, to take leave to serve in the military, or to take time off work to vote or serve on a jury.” http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/article-30022.html

    You libs make this toooo easy!
    You libs always seem to jump into a conversation and make crazy statements without first checking the facts. Then you spend all your time trying to justify your prior statements.

    These are the smartest people in the room that want to run everybody’s lives and spend everybody else’s money? There is a good reason why only 1 in 5 people will refer to themselves as liberal anymore. The rest simply know better!
    Liberalism in this country only survives as a form of dogmatism anymore as it has become more reliant on nefarious political tactics and emotional wrenching than the proposition of actual winning arguments.
    What a joke!

  28. #28 by Tiller on November 9, 2010 - 11:09 am

    Dwight they are in business to make money. No one listens to progressive hosts on television enough to generate any ad revenue. Simple. Maddow maybe gets 1/5th the viewers as Fox’s lowliest show host.

    Fox news is a business, and entertainment as well. Like this blog, funny business, and a laugh.

  29. #29 by cav on November 9, 2010 - 11:19 am

    Yea, and they make it out of thin air (and tripe)!.

  30. #30 by Richard Warnick on November 9, 2010 - 1:12 pm

    Demosthenes (Glenn)–

    You are right about one thing. The burden of proof is on the employee. Clearly you have had no experience in dealing with the Utah Antidiscrimination & Labor Division. Utahns who think they are victims of illegal discrimination cannot go directly to the federal EEOC. They first must prove their case at UALD. Which is nearly impossible.

    I have personal experience with this process. Therefore I am not making “crazy statements.”

  31. #31 by brewski on November 9, 2010 - 7:55 pm

    Richard, how do you think you were discriminated against? This isn’t a loaded question, I am genuinely interested.

  32. #32 by Richard Warnick on November 9, 2010 - 10:36 pm

    I helped someone else bring a complaint against her employer for gender discrimination. They never promoted women in the company, while lesser qualified men got preference.

  33. #33 by Larry Bergan on November 10, 2010 - 12:46 am

    Richard:

    Did you try the Better Business Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce?

    Just kidding. :)

    So you had to clear a hurdle to get to the EEOC, which was once chaired by the Hon. Clarence Thomas?

    Wow! Where did you have to go after the EEOC? Newt Gingrich?

    Talk about a long hard slog!

  34. #34 by brewski on November 10, 2010 - 6:45 am

    So you helped a woman bring a complaint agianst her employer, and your employer (different than the employer of your female friend) fired you for helping her? How did your employer know that you were helping your friend?

    I believe pretty much anything in Utah with regard to employers. I have been specifically told to my face that I could never get a job at company xyz because I am not Mormon. That particular type of illegal discrimination is pretty widespread, accepted and not even seen as being illegal or immoral.

  35. #35 by Demosthenes on November 10, 2010 - 11:37 am

    Mr. Warnick said, “Demosthenes (Glenn)–
    You are right about one thing. The burden of proof is on the employee. Clearly you have had no experience in dealing with the Utah Antidiscrimination & Labor Division. Utahns who think they are victims of illegal discrimination cannot go directly to the federal EEOC. They first must prove their case at UALD. Which is nearly impossible.
    I have personal experience with this process. Therefore I am not making “crazy statements.”

    First, who the hell is GLENN and why do libs here keep insisting that I am other people? The last lib toady called me Tiller. One thing is certain. If Glenn and Tiller are anything like me they must be totally AWESOME! Are libs soooo blinded by denial over the FACT that less than 1 in 5 people hold their radical views that they believe anyone that shows up on this blog who isn’t part of their liberal clique must all be the same person? Sorry Poor Richard but there are far more of us than there are of you so you should get used to it.

    Second, it seems to me that your problem is with another liberal bureaucracy. The reality is ANYONE can file a tort claim in instances of discrimination or in violation of fair hiring practices. You don’t need the EEOC or the UALD or the NAACP or the ACLU or any other number of acronyms.

    Also, I am assuming that you hold to the legal principal of “presumption of innocence.” Well maybe I shouldn’t make that assumption. After all you are a lib! SOOOO, are you suggesting that your female friend should be able to accuse her employer of discrimination then place the burden of proof on them to prove their innocence? Seems to me, if your woman friend truly had a case then she should have been able to recoup damages. Did she?

    Oh… By the way the liberal Cock of the Walk-Fry Cook (first name Dwight, middle name SHELDON last name Adams) just got his ass handed to him in another discussion here. So it appears there is a power vacuum in your ranks. Are you going to step up and become the new Fry-Cock? I hear that Mr. Brown is very interested in the position so if you don’t want to be passed over you better make your move!

  36. #36 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on November 10, 2010 - 12:00 pm

    Settle down first name Dwight middle name Sheldon last name Adam’s, the grownups are talking here.

    I have never so much wanted to not be a grown-up as when Demosthenes asserted that he was one.

    I wonder what his standard for “grown-up” is—except for “agrees with him on everything,” of course.

    –Dwight

  37. #37 by Richard Warnick on November 10, 2010 - 12:56 pm

    brewski–

    You’ve got an imagination. My experience helping someone else navigate the UALD bureaucracy was many years ago, and has nothing to do with the fact I’m out of a job now.

    I agree, Utah being an “at will” state opens the door to many types of discrimination. Employees haven’t got much recourse to federal law because we’re not allowed to go directly to the EEOC.

    Demosthenes (Glenn)–

    If you were a lawyer you would know that if you bring a case to court prior to the exhaustion of administrative remedies, it will be thrown out. Hence the need to go through the bureaucracy.

  38. #38 by Tiller on November 10, 2010 - 1:24 pm

    Richard you dummy, I am not Demosthenes. You guys are really kind of a a bunch of idiots, and it shows.

  39. #39 by elaine on November 10, 2010 - 7:35 pm

    Please tell me Keith Olbermann is going away…PLEASE!!! He is a Vile Horrid Human Being!!!! I bet he jacks off to his own picture

  40. #40 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on November 10, 2010 - 7:59 pm

    Elaine–

    You don’t have to listen to the man. Crude criticisms without any relevance except to illustrate your hatred of him have little bearing.

    He’s not going away (yet), but you may turn the channel. In any case, there are enough voices on the other side that are just as vitriolic if not more so that Olbermann is merely balance, if he’s even that powerful.

    The loud voices are almost completely owned by the far right these days. Why should they be the only ones who get to shout?

    I personally prefer Maddow (sometimes) and books (most of the time). I take few of the serious people on tv very seriously. The only yelling you hear in books is your own, usually.

    Hopefully, for your sake and mine, Olbermann will calm down a bit, though.

    –Dwight

  41. #41 by Richard Warnick on November 11, 2010 - 8:44 am

    Stay classy, elaine.

  42. #42 by Richard Warnick on April 1, 2012 - 9:03 pm

    UPDATE: Keith Olbermann has now been fired by Current TV.

    Keith Olbermann has threatened to sue Current TV after the controversial host was fired from his primetime slot less than a year after he joined the network.

    Former Vice President Al Gore, the co-founder of Current TV, said in a statement that the network was founded on “values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann.”

    Not one to go down without a fight, Olbermann fired back on Twitter, writing that the accusations were “untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently.”

    Gore’s stark language in severing ties with Olbermann less than a year after the dream deal stunned media observers.

    “It’s surprising to watch Al Gore, who swore he knew how to handle Keith Olbermann, essentially throw in the towel and say he and Current TV don’t line up anymore,” Brian Stelter, a New York Times media writer, told ABC News.

    The former host of “Countdown” on MSNBC, who was reportedly being paid $50 million for five years, was immediately replaced by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who took over the 8 p.m. slot with a show called “Viewpoint.”

(will not be published)


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