Propagandists named Olbermann & Matthews

MSNBC’s decision to yank its two left-wing talking heads – Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews – off election news anchoring duties was long overdue but too little too late.

The damage has been done, as it always is when partisanship replaces journalism and punditry masquerades as objective reporting.

Olbermann and Matthews are seasoned entertainers well-honed in their craft of presenting propaganda as news but neither journalism nor the public was served by putting two partisans at the helm of election coverage in a critical election year.

Both have become purveyors of misinformation, as guilty of slanting news to the left as Fox News is of doing so from the right. Those who defend the trend of propaganda as news broadcasting claim having MSNBC presenting the liberal slant offers a counterbalance to the right-wing blather of Fox but nothing is served by the existence of either so-called "news" organization.

Friends at NBC news tell me Olbermann is out of control, going into paranoid-driven rages about "threats from the right wing," demanding the network provide him with guards and security along with star-status treatment and perks.

Retired NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, who still carries a lot of weight at Rockefeller Center – the headquarters of NBC – convinced the network bosses to give the hook to Olbermann and Matthews after their embossing stunts and meltdowns during convention coverage.

After Obermann’s temper tantrums at the Democratic National Covention, along with demands that he be assigned a security detail in Minneapolis for the Republican Convention because Conservatives were "out to get me," the network kept Olbermann in New York for the GOP event.

Matthews, sources say, is "reconsidering" his future with MSNBC. The Hardball host is unhappy with being related to second-banana status to Olbermann and with the public humiliation with being demoted publicly by the network.

"You don’t see much team spirit around here these days," grumbles one NBC producer. "It’s Keith against the Republicans, Keith against his colleagues and Keith against the world. Olbermannn is destroying what little camaraderie we had left."

Too bad. At one time, Countdown with Keith Olbermann seemed like a good idea, a breath of fresh air against staid cable "news" programming. But it has turned into a one-man promotional machine. Polls are augmented with the "Keith number," a slant on the results. Attacks on anyone who dares disagree with him are featured nightly as is his ongoing, childish war against Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly. He and Matthews trumpet their appearances on other shows as news events.

NBC’s David Gregory, a real newsman hip deep in this pool of propagandists, takes over anchoring the election coverage. Obermann and Matthews will appear as "commentators," which means Gregory will have his hands full trying to keep the coverage from turning into another carnival with the two of them as barkers.

Which means more pap and confusion as we head into the crucial Nov. 4 election season. We don’t need more distractions when voters need to sort through the partisanship and posturing to make a reasoned decision on the future of the country.


  1. pattywagn

    I get so sick of the mainstream media not asking the hard questions to the republicans. They tolerate the lies (propaganda) being spewed by the republicans. This nation is in BIG trouble, but not to worry, the republicans are in control of the media. They can get rid of anyone eventually and take away our constitutional rights too. So what if people can’t pay their bills, the environment is in bad shape, unemployment is at an all time high, people are losing their homes, we have a huge healthcare crisis, and the ever growing budget deficit will have to be paid for by my grandchildren? It doesn’t affect them. They keep telling us things aren’t so bad….we’re just whiners and perhaps unpatriotic. If you ask the hard questions, you get labeled as liberal and the networks cave in. If Keith doesn’t have his show, I probably won’t watch tv news. “Liberal media”??? Give me a break!

  2. almandine

    I’m not so sure we can say that this is a “crucial Nov. 4 election…” Not a damn thing’s gonna change until we expunge Congress!

  3. Warren

    I put it this way: The Democrats take the money out of your pocket at gunpoint. The Republicans just use your credit card number.

  4. colocritic

    Olberman is the only one that tells it like it is. Period!
    He keeps us up on all that this administration is doing to ruin our country, all the laws they have broken, the signing statements that you never hear about anyplace else, the constant lies they tell and on and on. He is my highlight of the day for honest information. We need him to fight for the truth.

    I don’t care for the silly stuff he does on his program but everything else is well done and well delivered. His Special Comments may seem a little over the top to some, but he usually is making a point and does an excellent job of doing so.

    Rachel Maddow is another one I like with her new show. She brings out the truth, as well, and does a great job. We need more like the two of them to counter the lies the republicans continue to spread on the other networks and radio stations.


  5. Harve3

    FWIW, I never miss Bill O’Reilly. He makes my day. I love his personality and the whole format of his show. He’s a great entertainer and an important part of the Fox News cable broadcast. Be sure to see his interview of the Hon Barack Hussein Obama [D-IL] which will be presented as a special this coming Saturday night. Bill is an important balance to other opinion-makers in cable news.

    Hill Country resident

  6. theLidoShuffle

    Just a few months ago I was in quite a little sword fight with a few people over KO-I think the initials speak for themselves. I never miss Keith-he makes my day-I love his personality and his whole format and if he is an entertainer-every once in a while he entertains the truth. If that bothers someone then they have a problem with his ability to deliver it.

    Keith is a voice in the wilderness-one we are sorely in need of.

    Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

    George Washington

  7. Timr

    Doug. You are saying things about KO that have not only been refuted by KO but also by his network bosses. Stories about KO abound in the NYPost and the infamous page 6. As faux news is owned by Murdock so is the newspaper that prints the stories about KO wanting bodyguards. I suggest that you don’t use any Murdock owned organization as a source for information or lies about commentators on MSNBC. BTW, now that Rachal Maddow is also on MSNBC you should expect howls of rage from Murdock.
    Also, Steven Colbert is brillant and his satire of faux news and billo is spot on
    The tweaking by KO of those on faux news and Billo is done in an interesting way and is getting under the very thin skin of Billo, so he and his boss Murdock get back by spreading false stories about both NBC and MSNBC and esp. KO. I also watched MSNBC at both conventions, other than C-Span NO network carried more actual convention activities. faux news didn’t, the networks only carried an hour each night.
    Again, the MSM reporters are very lazy they accept everything that St. John says as some kind of revealed truth which subjecting Obama to extreme scrutiny. See the Obama interview with Billo the big head, Billo had a supercilious smirk on his face the entire time that Obama was talking.

  8. heinrich66

    Three Cheers for Doug —

    Reading these replies to such a straightforward piece confirm what everybody should already know — Americans don’t know how to think anymore.

    For every one reply that agrees with Doug’s basic premise — that slanted news coverage is bad — there are nine more that say, “Yeah, but THE OTHER GUY DOES IT WORSE.”

    This is such pathetic grade-school thinking. You’d have thought an elementary principle would have sorted it out for them: e.g. two wrongs don’t make a right, etc. Not a chance.

    Here’s a basic sociological premise for you, Doug, if you’re reading this — and the three or four other people who make it down this far: the so-called “culture wars” and the separation of the country into red states and blue states, if you measured it against the corporate consolidation of the news media, would coincide with that same corporate consolidation, especially the emergence of the cable news networks.

    Why? Because all corporations are bogeymen? That’s not the point. The point here is political identification. Identification is a psychological phenomenon, one that is natural enough. People identify with an image, an attitude, a brand. They identify, for example, with a favorite baseball team, not because that team is better for any particular reason — though there are “reasons” enough given when pressed for one. But they identify with that team for a variety of unthinking, stubborn psychological reasons that are hard to tease out.

    When newspapers and radio and television news stopped being a more or less free and ad hoc jumble of opinions (compared with today) and became under the profit-obsessed corporate mode of control heavily streamlined, heavily targeted, and heavily reified, the political identifications of the day did also. This is not rocket science. Those identifications were given a purer nourishment, like purer gas for a car. And as those identifications crystallized, the groups around them did also, and thus were more easily targeted by corporate media interest, and so the cycle continues.

    Some people think that once on this journey — of reducing all news and information to “point of view” pieces driven by political identification — the only answer is more “choices”. One of the posters above — an idiot — thinks that turning MSNBC into a left-wing answer to right-wing propagandist FOX would be a good balancing move. Well, this is another example of people reacting from their place in political identifications, and not *thinking*, which involves identifying with abstract principles and not filled-out images. “As long as my point of view is represented out there,” the thinking goes, “well, it doesn’t matter the total harm to the system as a whole.”

    Thinking, real thinking, involves a kind of identification — but one very different than the Pavlov world of inhabited images. Take the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. Well, if you can identify with the principle, and principled thinking in general, than you obtain the flexibility of thought natural to a thinking person. It will keep you afloat no matter the particulars of a certain situation, no matter how unlike yourself those “others” are. If you stay mired in the world of images and of gut, visceral identification, well, then “others” are only people like you — and there is a whole *other* group out there to whom the principle does not apply (blacks, Indians, etc.)

    Basic civics education has totally broken down in the U.S. in its mad, frantic grab for material comfort. People don’t, for example, walk on one side of the sidewalk just out of principle. They don’t obey Golden Rule-type thinking when behind the wheel of an automobile. They don’t challenge themselves to be more learned about their history for fear that, if they don’t, perhaps no one will and that would be an unthinkable situation. Rather, they simply pick out a kind of marketed socio-economic image and let themselves fill it. All their attitudes and opinions and behavior then follow freely.

    Well, for what it’s worth, the above formula will predict smoothly all the replies to the article, as well as most internet “forum” behavior, and most political behavior on television, in the newspapers, on the radio, and so on.

  9. Southerner

    In a high school basketball game a long time ago, I was playing the point on my team’s 1-3-1 zone defense. With only a few minutes left in the game, the other team put in a sneaky little guard who was very skilled at throwing elbows.

    When the other team was on offense, this guy would cut past me into the lane. Each time, he came very close to me and elbowed me in the ribs as he passed. He was one of those guys with sharp elbows, and it was very painful. But the refs didn’t see him.

    After he did it for the third or fourth time, I reacted out of pain and anger and caught him in the back of the head with my forearm. Of course, I was called for the foul because the refs saw that.

    You’re reacting to what you perceive as the obvious foul that Olbermann and Mathews committed on the air. If I understand the events correctly, Olbermann’s comments about the GOP’s shameless use of the September 11 attacks as a political manipulation tool at the convention is at least partly what prompted MSNBC’s action. Olbermann was, in effect, called for a foul, while the refs ignored the other team’s foul that prompted him to react so strongly.

    Olbermann is an entertainer. He’s also the only guy out there who is trying to point out the fouls that the Republicans have been committing for almost eight years now. But he gets called for the foul because the GOP has been skillfully working the press so that they have, in effect, gotten the refs to look the other way.

    Where’s your outrage at what the GOP did at the convention to prompt Olbermann’s reaction? You might have at least included a sentence or two about that. Or did you not think their use of September 11 footage was out of bounds? Why don’t you call a foul on the guys who are throwing elbows when the refs aren’t looking?

  10. CheckerboardStrangler

    NBC is owned by General Electric.
    Can we all please remember that Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews serve at the pleasure of the GE Board of Directors and their stockholders?

    If something is said by either of them that threatens the GE bottom line directly or indirectly a memo is fired off from one of the ivory towers to tell them to cool it or else.

    This was obviously done, neither cooled it and now it has to be spun as if two journalists are being demoted.

    When a journalist gets their paycheck from the military industrial complex they are no longer a journalist.
    They’re a paid spokesman for the machine.

    As soon as a “Radio Corporation of America” or some similar outlet reclaims ownership of a major network we might see a slight return to television and radio journalism.
    After all their only agenda would be to sell more radios and TV’s, not tanks, fighter jet engines, nuclear subs, missile defense systems, unmanned aircraft etc.

    I can’t wait till an oil company starts buying up shares in broadcasting. I expect it to start happening within the first hundred days of the third Bush term.

    CNN, an Exxon-Newsweek network…or something like that.

    Jeff H in Occupied TX

  11. DejaVuAllOver

    Seems to me you’re grasping at straws here, Doug. The entire world thinks we’re nuts, insane, stupid or much worse. I know you get some grief for giving the right a hard time and maybe you’re just trying to show some balance, but hey, this is crazy. Our media has been so far off the right-wing deep end, at least when it comes to capitalism and zionist imperialism, for a LONG time. Guys like Olbermann were the truth-tellers in a sea of Nazis.

  12. spartacus

    Most members of the mainstream press simply don’t do their jobs. I’ve seen McCain and his surrogates get away with lie after lie: where are the real facts about anything negative involving Sarah Palin being mentioned in the news media EXCEPT for places like MSNBC? I’ve found all kinds of information about her that has yet to appear anywhere, yet it directly contradicts her carefully crafted, false image, and is easily verified from reliable sources, such as newspapers, etc., (mentioned below). The simple fact is that most of what Olbermann, Matthews, and Maddow have been reporting on her many lies are readily verified by checking sources, such as the Anchorage Daily News, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Alaska Fish and Game Releases, Alaska government releases, etc, but NO ONE ELSE IS TALKING ABOUT ANY OF IT!!!! This woman lies: every time she gives a speech: every time she opens her mouth: almost everything she claims she did is a lie, or a severe stretch of the truth, and it’s all easily verified. THAT’S WHY PEOPLE WATCH MSNBC!!!!!

    Olberman was able to point out some lies before Palin had finished her speech at the convention. The rest of the media is just beginning to catch up. Why do you think McCain really wants them gone? McCain’s been lying through his teeth, as has his running mate, and no one else challenges him!

    I’m sorry you find Olbermann and Matthews too much. However, I’m sick of watching McCain get away with the whoppers daily without being challenged by most of the mainstream press, including Dick Gregory, who makes it clear from his comments he’s in McCain’s corner. He is far from objective. If Brokaw and the others would actually do their jobs, as they used to do 30 years ago, then fine. However, the press doesn’t. If McCain were Pinocchio, his nose would stretch all the way to California, and the ‘newscasters’ you mentioned would simply ask him if he were suffering from allergies.

  13. griff

    Nice one. But there is a difference between the two parties. The Republicans growl and sneer as they twist the knife in your back while the Democrats smile warmly and tell you how good the knife goes with your shoes.

  14. anthny

    When all is said and done, a lot is said and nothings done.
    Talk is cheap, but the repubs love to add there two cents worth. Which are usually lies and innuendo.
    Talk is cheap, but the demo love to add there two cents worth. Which are usually lies and innuendo.
    There is no difference between these parties.
    While running for president they tell you what you want to hear, while the first hundred days everything is a mystery to the voters who put them in office.

  15. jbaspen

    So Doug, Karl Rove’s dance partner, David Gregory, is a “fair and balanced” journalist? More like an obsequeious toady, which is standard for the D.C. madams nowadays.

    If Obermen and Matthews get a little shrill, one can hardly blame them. There’s a problem with your “six of one, half a dozen of another”, analysis. This Country is run by “laissez-faire, voodoo economic zealots” (thank you, Prof. Nouriel Roubini and his Global Economic Monitor)who have “caused the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression”. Doug, ain’t no liberal in sight, and there hasn’t been in more than 25 years! Since the right wing, neocon fanatics have been running this Country torwards economic ruin and their disasterous wars, what’s the Big Deal about asking them a few uncomfortable questions? The Washington Press Corps thinks “Investigative Journalism” is an oxymoron! Don’t wanna lose that invite to those “A-list” parties, do they?