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MSNBC's Bad Week: Keith Olbermann Is Busted, Ratings Slump

4 years ago
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NEW YORK – It's not been a good week for MSNBC.
Its high-profile anchor and one of the key exponents of that cable news network's liberal politics, Keith Olbermann, was suspended on Friday without pay for making contributions to three Democratic candidates this election season.
MSNBC's president, Phil Griffin, said in a statement, "I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay."
What his suspension might mean to Olbermann's future was not clear.
Olbermann has acknowledged to NBC that he gave $2,400 to the campaign of Jack Conway, the U.S. Senate candidate in Kentucky who opposed the eventual winner, Rand Paul, a Republican tea-party leader, according to The Associated Press. Olberbann also donated $2,400 each to two Arizona U.S. House members seeking re-election, Rep. Raul Grijalva, who won, and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose race was still too close to call.
NBC prohibits its staff from working on or donating to political campaigns. Olbermann's bosses found out about the donations only after they were made. The website Politico first reported the donations.
Olbermann has had a rocky career at MSNBC, where he hosts the channel's most popular program, "Countdown," at 8 p.m. But his intense and mercurial personality, both on and off the air, has drawn and at times repelled viewers.
His vitriolic on-air battle against his 8 p.m. counterpart on Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, has sometimes backfired, especially in the ratings, where O'Reilly leaves Olbermann in the dust.
Within the NBC and MSNBC News organization, Olbermann has been a volatile and polarizing personality. He has clashed with Chris Matthews, host of "Hardball," over air time and other issues, and he has also clashed with Griffin and other network managers over editorial decisions.
Olbermann was a co-anchor of the network's election coverage this week, which drew criticism for its hostile interviews of Republican Congresswomen Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn.
But worse, MSNBC came out far behind in the ratings.
Fox News, its conservative archrival, drew the biggest election-night audience overall, topping all cable-news and broadcast networks on Tuesday. Fox News averaged nearly 7 million viewers between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., according to Nielsen Co.
CNN averaged 2.4 million viewers and MSNBC averaged just under 2 million.
ABC's coverage brought in the most viewers among broadcast news but fell behind Fox News. Nielsen data released Thursday showed an average of 6.8 million viewers tuned in to the ABC telecast. The coverage, anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos, got a boost from its lead-in, "Dancing With the Stars."
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Fox is a propaganda machine for the Republican Party. They tear the President down and tear down the Office of the Presidency. I stopped listening to Fox 3 years ago. All they do is scream and shout. The worst is Hannity and they fabricate mis information like saying the Presidents trip to India is costing taxpayers $200,000,000 million a day. Come on we were not born yesterday nor the day before. But then you have some of their listeners calling radio talk shows complaining the President is spending $200 million a day.when it is a bold faced lie.when Bush was in ,he could do no wrong. He started a war based on lies which has cost us trillions of dollars plus tens of thousands of dead Iraqis and about 4500 American lives. Thousands of others were permanently injured. Yet no apology from the far right.

November 09 2010 at 11:06 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

FOX's popularity is due to the basic and intrinsic nature of the American public. Still filled with hate, bigotry, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-woman, most of America is "joe six pack"....they all want the govt to cut spending UNLESS something happens to THEM....then they want help. They want their guns and Bible yet no one PRACTICES what the Bible preachs...Love they fellow man. Hate, ignorance and give me that OLD TIME religion sells and hence people like Beck, O Reily, Palin, etc. make FOX's news. I will stick with MSNBC and Olbermann. TY- please pray for peace

November 09 2010 at 9:38 AM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply

there is no reason too apologize,just compare the rumour mongers on the right;when you fight,look at them;everything goes even weapons,money, hate and fear mongering,thats the right.let us stop these miss info and dellusional ideas.keith you have my upmost respect in being fair.....hlt117

November 08 2010 at 11:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

ComCast will have to make some changes if they want to compete , After all the name of the game is ratings and MSNBC is not in the game at all . If they do sell air time it must be very small . Keith has driven away viewers by his constant attacks of the leading Fox network . His fellow commentators also continue to do this and it is so child like that it has hurt them . They have this obsession to degrade the leading network thinking that it helps them when all it does is make Fox even stronger . The election coverage was the worst and did not help the network at all make a dent in the ratings war . Fox in general never really attacks these commentators at all they simply dismiss them as an annoying fly that needs to be swatted . They have learned what we all do , No body watches Who cares what they say or do ? Really they are bush league compared to the other networks and will never compete as long as they follow the leader in bashing Fox and continue to hang the banner of far left causes on there shows . Now don't get me wrong they have their diehards who watch but like we all know so few .

November 08 2010 at 10:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The folks at MSNBC, no matter how well intentioned, are way behind the curve and so liberal it is almost scary. No news organization, FOX or any other network, is so blatantly biased. Tuesday, November 2nd was a perfect example with Olbermann, O'Donnell and Mathews trying as hard as they could to denigrate and ridicule the GOP. It was disgusting. But, like Nancy P. said, "we won", so it's a lot easier to take. I can't imagine the vitriol if the GOP had lost. Want to see a really great show? Morning Joe.

November 08 2010 at 10:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jock's comment
Mr. Serene

What don't you righties understand about Fox? THe majority of its viewers are seniors, retirees, who have nothing better to do than sit in front of the Idiot Box all day and curse progress and change. Fox accommodates, MSNBC does not. As for Morning Joe, what a jerk!

November 08 2010 at 11:35 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Hello, Jeffrey

First, the Fox (O'Reilly) News against MSNBC is a false augument. Fox News is carried on more airways; you need special equipment to get MSNBC on Comcast, and purchase higher viewing packages to receive it on MSNBC; many stations carry FOX on local channels, not requiring pay-view television. But in the younger demographics, Fox News, doesn't come close. People really need to stop taking these "plant" stories like this at face values. Fox and their delegates are masters at blitzing "half" truths, as it were. O'Reilly and Hannity ( The Abbott and Costello of news) are windows to the uninformed. They both have aversions to facts, and are journalist-challenged, to say the least!

November 08 2010 at 10:16 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Everyone and anyone that has watched Mr. Olbermann's show knows exactly where he stands on issues and his political leanings. His left wing viewers will continue to watch him rant and rave and lap it up. I am surprised the Dude did not visit his show during the campaign.

November 08 2010 at 9:41 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

People that tune in Fox news depend on it to tell them how to think. It's the way they form their opnions. I think the reason that the ratings were so high the night of the elections was because they knew the Democrats were gonna lose big and they wanted to feel that they were part of the downfall.

November 08 2010 at 7:14 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Brenda's comment

No, the reason their ratings were so high is because, according to Pew Research, 60% of Americans tilt 'Right". MSNBC is an admitted left-leaning "shill" for the Democratic party. Furthermore, MSNBC (with it's 14 viewers) admittedly leans much further "left" than FOX leans "right" it becomes a credibility issue.

November 08 2010 at 9:46 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Brenda, you are the perfect Democrat. You think 'I am smart and if you don't agree with me, you are stupid. Yet, it's the Democrats that want the government to make all their decisions. We need less government, the politicians (both parties) go to Washington D.C. to help themselves. Why would you spend millions of dollars for a job that pays $200,000? Many go to Washington and become extremely rich on that $200,000 salary. The Tea Party is the greatest thing to happen to this country. It woke up the Republican Party. Now we need a counterpart organization to wake up the Democrats. The biggest problem in this country up till now was, little involvement from the citizens. They had gone to sleep. Jon Stewart's rally was the perfect example of 'go back to sleep so that we Progressives can continue to take over the country'. Brenda, if you are so smart, start a counter to the Tea Party, if you don't, you are lazy (and stupid).

November 09 2010 at 10:05 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I'm wondering if Olbermann's return will elicit any kind of bump in his dismal ratings against his arch-rival, Bill O'Reilly. So few people watch the pathetic MSNBC network, the majority of the viewing public probably didn't realize Olbermann was, in fact, missing and suspended. Cynical me thinks that Keith was just on vacation and this was MSNBC's feeble attempt to stir up controversy to gain a few viewers.

November 08 2010 at 3:11 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Bachman was disrespectful, even idiotic - NOT the commentator. She totally IGNORED Chris's questions, just barrelling thru using the airtime, as a commercial, just to drill her RightWinged BS "talking points" in... SHE was the RUDE one. She should NOT be invited back. ON Keith Olbermann ... HE MUST be brought back, and already has been for this TUES!!! There just HAS to be some counterbalance, to the all the rightwinged nuts, promoting and being run by Repub operatives, and distorting, bending facts.. stirring up confusion, hatred and bigotry. WE NEED Keith, and Maddow!! and ED!

November 08 2010 at 2:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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