Posted by Curt on 8 September, 2008 at 8:28 am. 4 comments already!

Not sure its going to make a bit of difference. Olbermann gets one million viewers a night so he has become the face of MSNBC (Of course O’Reilly gets over three million, but who’s counting?) and being the face of the network the bigwigs thought turning the MSNBC ship way to the left would be a good idea.

They were wrong:

MSNBC tried a bold experiment this year by putting two politically incendiary hosts, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, in the anchor chair to lead the cable news channel’s coverage of the election.

That experiment appears to be over.

After months of accusations of political bias and simmering animosity between MSNBC and its parent network NBC, the channel decided over the weekend that the NBC News correspondent and MSNBC host David Gregorywould anchor news coverage of the coming debates and election night. Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews will remain as analysts during the coverage.

The change — which comes in the home stretch of the long election cycle — is a direct result of tensions associated with the channel’s perceived shift to the political left.

While the left loves to criticize Fox News for being a conservative bastion, the network knows how to do it. Real news get the real anchors like Brit Hume and Chris Wallace. Meanwhile the opinion segments get the pundits like Hannity and O’Reilly (No idea why people think of him as conservative). You never see those two hosting a political convention. But MSNBC, in all their wisdom, thought it would be a good to have these yahoo’s pretend to be unbiased while covering the conventions.

With the hot mikes, on-air fueds, and obvious bias that could not be hidden someone in the upper offices have finally seen the light:

In interviews, 10 current and former staff members said that long-simmering tensions between MSNBC and NBC reached a boiling point during the conventions. “MSNBC is behaving like a heroin addict,” one senior staff member observed. “They’re living from fix to fix and swearing they’ll go into rehab the next week.”

The employee, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity because the network does not permit it people to speak to the media without authorization. (The New York Times and NBC News have a content-sharing arrangement exclusively for political coverage.)

Mr. Olbermann, a 49-year-old former sportscaster, has become the face of the more aggressive MSNBC, and the lightning rod for much of the criticism. His program “Countdown,” now a liberal institution, was created by Mr. Olbermann in 2003 but it found its voice in his gnawing dissent regarding the Bush administration, often in the form of “special comment” segments.

As Mr. Olbermann raised his voice, his ratings rose as well, and he now reaches more than one million viewers a night, a higher television rating than any other show in the troubled 12-year history of the network. As a result, his identity largely defines MSNBC. “They have banked the entirety of the network on Keith Olbermann,” one employee said.

Howard Kurtz:

The move, confirmed by spokesmen for both networks, follows increasingly loud complaints about Olbermann’s anchor role at the Democratic and Republican conventions. Olbermann, who regularly assails President Bush and GOP nominee John McCain on his “Countdown” program, was effusive in praising the acceptance speech of Democratic nominee Barack Obama. He drew flak Thursday when the Republicans played a video that included a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that if the networks had done that, “we would be rightly eviscerated at all quarters, perhaps by the Republican Party itself, for exploiting the memories of the dead, and perhaps even for trying to evoke that pain again. If you reacted to that videotape the way I did, I apologize.”

Matthews, who has criticized politicians in both parties, drew less criticism for his convention role but became a divisive figure during the primaries when he described how he was inspired by Obama’s speeches and made disparaging remarks about Hillary Clinton, for which he later apologized.

In May, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in an interview that during live events Olbermann and Matthews “put on different hats. I think the audience gets it. . . . I see zero problem.”

But NBC News journalists, who often appear on the cable channel, did see a problem, arguing behind the scenes that MSNBC’s move to the left — which includes a new show, debuting tonight, for Air America radio host Rachel Maddow — was tarnishing their reputation for fairness. Tom Brokaw, the interim host of “Meet the Press,” said that at times Olbermann and Matthews went too far.

TV Newser:

For MSNBC president Phil Griffin the shift to the left is less ideological and more bottom line. “In a rapidly changing media environment,” he tells the Times’ Brian Stelter, “this is the great philosophical debate…the bottom line is that we’re experiencing incredible success.”

But that success, more limited than “incredible”, is coming at a cost. In recent months, the network has received letters of criticism ranging from Hillary Clinton’s campaign to the Bush White House. And since MSNBC is now so closely tied to NBC News, the critics started seeing the two entities as one.

Last month John McCain’s campaign requested a meeting with NBC News president Steve Capus over something correspondent Andrea Mitchell said on Meet the Press. McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis wrote, “We are concerned that your News Division is following MSNBC’s lead in abandoning non-partisan coverage of the Presidential race.”

During the RNC last week, which Olbermann co-anchored from New York, insiders from both NBC and MSNBC opened up to TVNewser, most speaking on background. “It’s a completely untenable situation,” one MSNBC insider said. And, in what now seems prescient, added, “It’s not going to be workable forever, to have two anchors like that. It’s just too bizarre.”

Like I said in the beginning. This will have no effect. The public already understands that the majority of the press is in the bag for Obama and cannot remain unbiased even as they whine that its just “passion!”:

Mr. Griffin, MSNBC’s president, denies that it has an ideology. “I think ideology means we think one way, and we don’t,” he said. Rather than label MSNBC’s prime time as left-leaning, he says it has passion and point of view.

Riiiiiight.

More here.

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