Kurtz: Olbermann and NBC in Civil War Over His Campaign Contributions

Keith Olbermann and the heads of NBC - including former Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw - are apparently  in the middle of a civil war over the "Countdown" host's recent campaign contributions that resulted in his brief suspension.

According to the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, the deepening sense of anger and frustration with Olbermann's behavior could lead to his eventual departure from MSNBC:

From the moment Olbermann was found to have donated money to three Democratic candidates, there has been a deepening sense of anger and frustration among his colleagues, according to interviews with eight knowledgeable sources. These sources, who declined to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the situation, say that several of NBC’s front-line stars, including Tom Brokaw, have expressed concern to management that Olbermann has badly damaged MSNBC’s reputation for independence. (NBC and MSNBC executives declined to comment, and Olbermann declined to be interviewed.)

As an aside, it is interesting that Kurtz would publish this piece using sources requiring anonymity, as this is a practice he often frowns upon in his columns as well as on CNN's "Reliable Sources." But I digress:

Network staffers use phrases like “scorched-earth policy” and “totally narcissistic response” to describe how Olbermann has dealt with criticism of his political donations. A recurring theme is that he has made it impossible for MSNBC to argue that it is journalistically different from Fox News, which has no prohibition against political donations by such commentators and talk-show hosts as Sean Hannity and Karl Rove. The word hypocrisy has frequently been aimed at Olbermann.

There has apparently been talk at NBC about Olbermann's erratic behavior for quite some time:

Even those who admired Olbermann’s broadcasting skills felt that his behavior, such as making his staff leave notes outside his door rather than speaking to him, had gone too far. He was a royal pain, they said, and management had become exhausted trying to rein him in.

Relations are so strained that Olbermann has not spoken directly with [NBC President Steve] Capus or [MSNBC President Phil] Griffin since the donations controversy erupted. While he is halfway through a four-year, $30 million contract, Olbermann has become, in the words of one staffer, “a man without a country.

Even people close to Olbermann are apparently unhappy with the "Countdown" host:

Some members of his own team confronted him, saying that his actions had hurt the network.

But here's the money line:

There have been attempts to lower the temperature...And the network decided that Olbermann would be paid for the days that he was kept off the air.

So in the end, Olbermann got a paid vacation for his indiscretions. 

Makes the folks at the top of MSNBC and NBC look rather spineless, doesn't it?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.