Keith Olbermann's appeal has generally been his incendiary, attack-dog approach to the news. The approach paid off during the Bush administration when bashing the president was good business for a television host.
Since Obama's inauguration, Olbermann's ratings have been in free-fall, but MSNBC brass are still more than willing not only to keep him on the air, but to defend him against any and all critics.
Asked about Olbermann's plummeting ratings--they have declined 44 percent since last year--MSNBC President Phil Griffin cleverly invoked the cable network's slogan, saying MSNBC is still "the place for politics."
Griffin added, "there are times when politics does great, and there are times when it doesn't." Apparently there are also times when it does great on Fox, but not on MSNBC, like, say, right now. Ratings for the "O'Reilly Factor", Olbermann's 8 p.m. competition, have soared 55 percent during the past year, making it by far the most watched cable news show during that time slot. "Countdown", meanwhile, languishes just behind HLN's Nancy Grace in the coveted 25-54 demographic.
Update - 2/4, 11:46 AM | Lachlan Markay: CBS News President Sean McManus has denied that the network will cut Couric's pay. Details below.
Katie Couric may be getting a taste of her own populist medicine. When the Dow hit 10,000 last October, she (and other network news personalities) used the opportunity to bemoan massive payments to Wall Street bankers. But now the populist sentiment has turned on her. She faces dramatic pay cuts as CBS News downsizes.
Couric, shown in a, er, file photo at right, "makes enough to pay 200 news reporters $75,000 a year! It's complete insanity," one CBS News insider told the Drudge Report. "We report with great enthusiasm how much bankers are making, how it is out of step with reality during a recession. Well look at Katie!"
The employee was referring to Couric's roughly $14 million annual salary, the highest in network news. That salary may be cut dramatically in the face of massive layoffs at CBS News branches in Washington, San Francisco, Miami, London, Los Angeles and Moscow.
The left is up in arms over the Supreme Court's recent decision in "Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission". But few voices have been louder than those emanating from the echo chamber at MSNBC. It seems that the cable network's talking heads feel that their parent company, General Electric, deserves a special exemption to what should be a blanket ban on unrestricted corporate speech.
First a bit of background for those unfamiliar with the Supreme Court decision. The court struck down in a 5-4 ruling a ban on corporate (or union) spending on political speech specifically endorsing or attacking a candidate for office within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. It ruled that the ban violated the First Amendment.
Few liberals seemed to notice that in attacking corporate speech they were also effectively undermining their own employers, media corporations who employs them for the express purpose of engaging in political speech. Surely Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow would defend MSNBC's right to speak (and spend) freely without interference from the federal government--especially in the run-up to an election when free speech is most important and must be protected.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Americans were treated to a number of populist sermons on the "special interests" who would oppose "reform" at any cost to maintain the "status quo" from which they "profit financially or politically." The drug companies, the energy companies, the Wall Street bankers, and the health insurers were the corporate enemies of a just and harmonious America, or so one might have gathered.
Obama was at the vanguard of this populist charge. But since his election, he has proposed health care legislation that would subsidize Pfizer and PhRMA, a cap and trade plan that would drive profits to General Electric, and Wall Street bailouts that lined the pockets of the same Goldman Sachs bankers he so reviled during the campaign. What happened?
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney exposes and investigates this monumental disconnect in his new book "Obamanomics: How Barack Obama is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses." Carney explores the "political strategy of partnering with the biggest businesses in order to create new regulations, taxes, and subsidies." Those measures, he argues, actually benefit the biggest businesses by crowding out competition, consolidating market share, or giving billions in subsidies directly to those companies.
Coming back from commercial this morning at the MSNBC Clown Kingdom, the bump-in video clip was one of Sarah Palin’s interview with Glenn Beck. Palin stated that it took all of the Founders to come up with the Constitution, but that George Washington (as the leader) would necessarily rise to the top.
"Not in sync with the current program" is how former CNN host Tucker Carlson describes his new website, the Daily Caller, which is scheduled to launch Monday. Designed as a conservative answer to the Huffington Post, the Daily Caller will do what few center-right blogs have attempted: report hard news.
Carlson and his partner, former Dick Cheney aide Neil Patel, have raised $3 million in startup capital for the site, according to the Washington Independent. That impressive sum is enough to keep the Daily Caller operating for about a year. The site will employ a reporting staff or 21 in its Washington, D.C. office.
With Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism, which launched earlier this week, Carlson hopes to be on the cutting edge of a new effort on the right to circumvent major media outlets--and overcome the significant obstacles to conservative news of traditional media outlets.
Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen scored a front page hit on...wait for it...conservative advocacy groups that oppose Obamacare. (See Funding for Health-Care Interest Groups Often Fuzzy.) Eggen is scandalized that (big) business interests want to fund groups that oppose President Obama's plans to socialize insurance in the U.S. Eggen singles out a handful of non-leftists groups and complains about "opaque financing" and "hidden support from insurers, drugmakers [and] unions."
The second part of Eggen's report similarly blasts left-of-center groups that take corporate money to support Obamacare. Yeah, right. Actually, Eggen expends just one paragraph mentioning that liberal groups might be "beholden to labor unions and liberal foundations with deep pockets." No serious discussion of the fact that industry lobbyists have been a huge backer of Obamacare - or, specific provisions thereof. (See, for example, DC Examiner author and columnist Timothy P. Carney's article this week on PhRMA's influence within the Obama administration and, last week, on another major trade association, America's Health Insurance Plans.)
Isn't it curious that Eggen omits entirely any examination of what corporate interests fund left-wing groups?
From the New York Times to the Colbert Report, liberal media commentators have had a field day bashing Glenn Beck for his purported conflict of interest in encouraging his viewers to invest in gold without disclosing that he has endorsed gold distributors.
Yet few of these pundits have even mentioned Al Gore's monumental conflict of interest--which could have far greater consequences for Americans than Beck's gold promotions--in touting global warming hysteria while establishing his own green technology empire.
NewsBusters has consistently argued that Gore plays up the dangers of global warming to line his own pockets. His investments in green energy firms could pay enormous dividends if the United States adopts the draconian cuts to carbon emissions he has advocated--and Congress included in the environmental tax known as cap and trade passed by the House last summer.
What’s on the mind of media types this Christmas season? Obama’s “great” speeches and the “atrocity” of Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Lieberman, says New York Times columnist David Brooks, an Obama supporter and Palin-basher whose neo-liberal outlook nevertheless places him at the right end of the paper's cavalcade of liberal opinion writers.
In his weekly Wednesday “Opinionator” exchange with fellow columnist Gail Collins at nytimes.com, Brooks provided a peek into a typical media Christmas, that is, “holiday” party:
He began with self-mockery:
Brooks: Tis the season for holiday parties, which means I’m spending a lot of time with the Beltway establishment. Let me tell you, you people who live outside the beltway are completely out of touch. We in the D.C. establishment are a wonderful group of really smart and intelligent people and if you guys don’t let us micromanage your affairs, you don’t deserve the happiness and wealth we could provide.
Collins responded with some sarcasm of her own from a liberal viewpoint:
Perhaps there is something obstructing the view overlooking Rockefeller Plaza, where MSNBC broadcasts "Countdown" nightly because the show's host, Keith Olbermann fails to see the existence of a news media with a liberal bias.
On MSNBC's Dec. 14 broadcast of "Countdown," Olbermann came to the defense of NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" executive producer and noted left-winger Dick Wolf. The Dec. 9 episode of Wolf's program featured a killer who targeted the children of illegal immigrants and in that episode, one of the characters, played by John Larroquette, blamed conservatives "like Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck" for inciting violence against immigrants. That prompted O'Reilly on Dec. 10, the next broadcast of the Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," to fire back at Wolf.
And that led Olbermann to respond to O'Reilly, five days later, which deteriorated into Olbermann making the seemingly laughable assertion there is no such thing as the liberal media. Olbermann began his tirade by attacking Andrew Breitbart, who is launching a Web site called "Big Journalism," which will take on "the Democratic-media complex."
Managing Editor's Note: The following is a reprint of Michael Moriarty's original December 14 post to Big Hollywood. Moriarty, you may recall, played a prosecutor in the first few seasons of the long-running NBC drama "Law and Order."
Well, I think I’ve been fairly calm and forgiving of "Law and Order" for about fifteen years. Living outside of the U.S. has certainly helped in more ways than one. Out of sight, out of mind. "Law and Order" has, for years, been just a press of the remote away from non-existence.
However, recent events have "Law and Order" just begging for my reassessment. I hardly expected my old television series to be the clown act that leads the American viewing audience into an increasingly predictable pile of hard left propaganda.
A number of the conservative movement's prominent online figures are battling to be the right's equivalent of Talking Points Memo or Huffington Post--political organizations that report hard news. Many believe that to truly harness the power of the Web, political organizations must report their own news, rather than comment on reporitng from traditional outlets.
"The left needs Daily Kos, but they also need the Huffington Post," Politics Daily columnist Matt Lewis told Politico. He praised the roles of activists and opinion commentators on the right such as Red State's Erick Erickson, but noted that the conservatives have not yet matched the left's capability for original reporting.
Though HuffPo, TPM, and other politcally stilted but journalism-oriented sites, liberals "have the ability to amplify stories into the mainstream media conversation," according to Politico. Conservatives have a large void to fill when it comes to producing original content, rather than solely commenting on what is already out there. There are conservative sites providing original reporting, but there are so far no center-right equivalents to the left's powerhouse online news operations.
But who does the snob Sheridan choose to blame in advance should his war-themed film flop? Not his own bonehead decision to jump into a genre with a 100% failure rate, not the investors who dove in with him … no, he blames We The American People:
That said, this is a good time to recall that Dobbs and his employer were at very visible loggerheads a decade ago. In fact, yesterday's move by Dobbs is not his first resignation from the network. Here is Brent Baker's June 9, 1999 CyberAlert item describing what happened:
Lou Dobbs gone from CNN. Forced out by CNN President Rick Kaplan, or just frustrated by him? In a surprise announcement at the end of Tuesday’s The World Today, anchor Jim Moret informed viewers:
"And finally tonight, farewell to a colleague. Lou Dobbs, President of CNNfn and anchor of Moneyline, is resigning to launch a new Internet venture. Dobbs said he is ‘grateful to Ted Turner and CNN News Group Chairman Tom Johnson for the opportunity to have helped build CNN and cnn.com into a first-class television news and interactive institution.’ Lou Dobbs had been with CNN since its inception 19 years ago. He will start up space.com, a Web site for news, entertainment and educational content about space."
No mention of Kaplan and an on-air dispute the two had a couple of weeks ago about whether to carry live a Clinton speech may explain why. As Clay Waters of Bridge News first informed me, the May 25 Page Six column in the New York Post revealed:
Donny Deutsch said something on MSNBC's Morning Joe that was worth listening to.
I'll give you a moment to scrape your jaw off the floor.
Donny Deutsch, in addition to being a former CNBC host, is also a former advertising executive. So when the following exchange takes place, you know he's actually speaking from some experience:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Donny Deutsch, when I was running for office, in Congress, as a challenger I prayed every day the person that was thirty points ahead of me in the polls would bring up my name. When I became the incumbent, my challenger could have burned down my house - and I mean it - I would have never mentioned his name.
DONNY DEUTSCH: Marketing 101.
SCARBOROUGH: Why are they doing this?
DEUTSCH: I am shocked. Here you have, it's the analogy of - you have Morning Joe, it's a big, serious show. And let's say there was a little public access guy in, somewhere in Des Moines calling you out, and you calling him back. They are elevating Fox. Think about this. It's the President of the United States, the commander of the free world, versus a television network with a couple million viewers. It's a ratings bonanza. It's insane - they should just be dismissive and laugh at them.
Yesterday CNN's Rick Sanchez was set to go on air and issue an apology for running an unverified quote attributed to Rush Limbaugh. Breaking news of the now-infamous "balloon boy" intervened, and Sanchez was unable to deliver his apology.
It came to the attention of the NewsBusters staff that Sanchez plans on issuing a correction today on-air, reading the following statement:
"How can the NFL overlook the a sleazy pop diva's questionable background while holding Limbaugh accountable for comments he's never made," wondered Brian Maloney in a Radio Equalizer blog post yesterday.
While the NFL is presenting itself as merely gun-shy of the controversy Rush Limbaugh would bring to the ownership table, it hardly seems worried about the controversy that a saucy pop star's ownership bid would bring.
Maloney explains, pointing out a double standard between the NFL commissioner scrabbling to denounce Limbaugh while practically encouraging a bid from pop artist Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, an avid Obama supporter:
Thus began El Rushbo’s interview with NBC national correspondent Jamie Gangel. It is remarkable that, even when the media sit down with Limbaugh, they still find a way to be biased. To be fair, Gangel did not conduct the interview like Keith Olbermann might have. But there were a few points of interest which must be noted – and some even pointed out by Rush during the interview.
First up, Gangel asks Rush if he’s a racist or a homophobe:
JAMIE GANGEL [voice over B-roll]: Rush’s brand of satire also keeps everyone talking. Parodies like this one, of Congressman Barney Frank, who also happens to be gay:
BARNEY FRANK IMPERSONATOR, singing: “I am the banking queen!”
GANGEL: And this one about race, and candidate Barack Obama:
Of all the ignorant, boot-licking interviews in Chris Matthews' long career, this one may be the most hypocritical.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), he of "die quickly" YouTube fame, appeared on the October 2 edition of MSNBC's "Hardball," and Matthews wasted no time in teeing up the GOP for Grayson:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I'm looking for some insight here. I'm a reporter. I'm trying to find out what you know and what you don't know. When you walk around the floor. When you walk past the Republican cloak room. When you get on the elevator. When you get on the subway over there in the Capitol building. Do these Republicans come up to you and say your number is up, buddy? What do they say to you?
On today's Morning Meeting, host Dylan Ratigan gathered his loyalist liberal media friends to deride Sarah Palin's recent speech to investors in Hong Kong, wherein she made the observation that government programs often create new problems, which are then tackled by eager politicians with what else but even more government programs.
First, in the interest of fairness, it must be noted that the guest from the Huffington Post and Vanity Fair, Vickie Ward, barely uttered a word in the entirety of the segment.
That's because she was laughing.
Here's what caused Ward's giggle-fit:
RATIGAN: I want to go to Andy Barr at Politico. Palin on health reform. This one made a little bit less sense. But I feel like it's very indicative, Andy, of certain aspects of right-wing talking points which look to demonize the government inherently, as opposed to looking at government as a tool that can either be abused, misused, or screwed up. Right? And so that rhetoric is evident here. [reading] 'It's common sense that government attempts to solve problems like the health care problem will just create new problems.' Now, forget the nonsensical aspect of that.
While Hollywood only rarely (and often by accident) produces something worthy, at least they’re always good for a laugh.
On today’s edition of Morning Joe, the pop culture guest du jour was Carole King, prolific and famous songwriter for Hollywood’s golden music days. Now the NewsBusters readers of greater life experience may initially have a “Don’t Bring Me Down” reaction – until one gets to this quote:
I want them to learn that they’re there, and that they [wilderness in the United States] need to be protected in the future, because we have about 97 percent of our American land is developed. And the number, that three percent keeps dwindling, dwindling. We’ve got to keep our national parks in our minds as we go to protect new wilderness – which, new wilderness is really preserving the status quo. It’s a new designation, same old God-given land.
There is an inside joke for the veteran viewers of MSNBC’s morning show, ‘Morning Joe,’ which refers back to a time when Joe Scarborough was in a heated debate with Zbigneiw Brzezinski (Mika’s father) over the behind-the-scenes content of President Clinton’s Camp David accords. The elder Brzezinski grew rather frustrated with being out-shouted by Scarborough, and delivered the following zinger:
“You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.”
This crushing critique could also be applied to today’s appearance of the New York Times’ Sam Tanenhaus, author of 'The Death of Conservatism,' on that same show. Tanenhaus delivered the following two opinions with an admirably straight face:
SAM TANENHAUS: Yeah, and it was interesting to go to the Clinton school and tell the audience there that the last conservative president in America was Bill Clinton.
After a summer swoon, you would think that the evening newscasts of the Big 3 networks would start to recover a bit now that many Americans are back from vacations, kids are back in school, and fall routines are getting established or re-established.
So far, you would be wrong.
It's early, and there's still plenty of time this fall to recover, but during the time period after Labor Day, the broadcasts primarily anchored by Brian Williams at NBC, Charles Gibson at ABC, and Katie Couric at CBS:
Are down a combined 28.5% from their peak in late January during the first full week of Barack Obama's presidency.
Have lost a combined 37.7% of their audience in the 25-54 demographic during the same time period.
Are down year-over-year compared to September 1, 2008, the week after Labor a year ago, by 8.9% overall and 18.1% in the 25-54 demographic.
At 19.55 million, are basically drawing audiences no larger than they were during this past (for them) miserable summer.
Michael Moore, the man of many hats - documentary filmmaker, political scientist and now, singer.
Moore has been making the rounds to promote his new movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story." On NBC's Sept. 15 "Jay Leno Show," Moore appeared and was asked what was wrong with capitalism.
"Capitalism is actually legalized greed," Moore said. "There's nothing wrong with people earning money, starting a business, selling shoes. That's not what I'm talking about. We're at a point now Jay, in this country, where the richest 1 percent, the very top 1 percent have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined."
Yesterday, Big Hollywood's Chris Yogerst weighed in on Greg Gutfeld’s criticism of Hollywood — specifically Greg’s criticism of “G.I. Joe,” Stallone’s new Rambo film and “Inglourious Basterds” — for choosing politically correct villains over the real ones we face today. Chris is correct that turning Nazis into Jihadists is not something a filmmaker like Quentin Tarantino would do. If he has any, Tarantino’s politics have remained hidden in his work. Up on that screen the only thing he advocates for is overlooked 70’s B-movies and audacious entertainment. However, that doesn’t make the director’s decision to use Nazis any less politically correct or Hollywood’s moral cowardice in this area any more defensible.
Where my colleague Chris and I most disagree is with the assertion that Hollywood chooses “politically correct” or “safe” villains because Hollywood is all about the money and therefore wants to appeal to audiences who care what the villain looks like:
The film industry, like any other business, generally wants to appeal to the largest audience possible. Picking “safe” enemies is one way to do that.
Two of the most profitable films released this past year were “Gran Torino,” where our hero confronts black and Asian street gangs, and “Taken,” where the henchmen are Muslims and the arch-villain Middle Eastern.
So the latest GI Joe flick is creating controversy, because the character is no longer portrayed as a typical American soldier. Instead he’s part of some elite murky force of international fighters - a Benetton ad with rocket launchers. On MSNBC, Donny Deutsch tried to take John J. Miller to task over his objections to the change – pointing out that the shift from an iconic American character to a mushy international delight is a “business” decision. For the movie to make money internationally, Donny thinks the character has to become part of global task force of community organizers. To this, I say, “Fiddle faddle,” which is short for “Silly stupid fiddle faddle.”
I wrote about this two years ago, just when Hasbro and Paramount execs decided to give GI Joe a makeover. Back then they felt the world would be too pissed at us for getting rid of Saddam Hussein to go see a movie about an American hero. As it turns out, they were wrong - the backlash over Saddam’s death had less impact than Norman Fell’s.
But for a moment, let’s attempt to use Donny’s logic on other flicks.
This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough broke the news that – are you sitting down? – the media are biased against Sarah Palin.
The comic potential for this revelation is nearly unlimited.
The Morning Joe Brew Crew provided some very interesting insight, however. Scarborough led Brzezinski into talking about the insider’s view of the main-stream media attitude toward Palin after her introduction as the Republican VP candidate:
General Electric (NYSE:GE) is the parent company of the major media conglomerate NBC Universal, which owns media outlets NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. At times that has led to the lines between corporate advocacy and journalism being blurred.
That was certainly the case when GE's CEO Jeff Immelt appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" May 20 to discuss the White House meeting of President Barack Obama's 16-member Economic Recovery Advisory Board headed by former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker.
Immelt used his platform at CNBC to make the case for a cap-and-trade program to curb emissions - something Obama has called for and one Congressional committee is debating this week.
Remember the outrage over the compensation paid out to AIG executives earlier this year, after the federal government had to extend a lifeline to troubled insurance provider? Will the executives of a media company receive the same treatment - should they get their wish and receive help from the government for their company?
There's a little-publicized story that the parent company of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Newspapers LLC allegedly sought a $10-million bailout from the state of Pennsylvania according to lawsuit filed by a Chester County, Pa. charter school. However, the Associated Press reported on April 24 that the company's chief, Brian Tierney - received $1.175 million in salary and bonus compensation in 2008, despite being forced into bankruptcy protection in February for $395 million in debt.
"Recent court filings also show that Tierney collected $1.175 million in salary and bonuses last year, somewhat higher than previously disclosed," Maryclaire Dale wrote for the AP. "Tierney's compensation included $650,000 in salary, a $350,000 bonus for 2008, a $175,000 bonus for 2007 and $81,000 in transportation costs."