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.