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The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?

 
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10/04/2006 06:13 PM
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The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
[link to www.save_the_children]

By Jeff Cohen
A former MSNBC producer wonders if the outspoken anchor's days are numbered

I fear for Keith Olbermann.

Like so many others who hunger for some journalistic independence on TV news, I often marvel at Olbermann’s dogged reporting and unique commentary. In a cable news environment of conformity and conservatism, the MSNBC host takes on the Bush administration for “demonizing dissent,” for abusing our Constitutional traditions, for “taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love [following 9/11], and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death.”

Only Olbermann talks about Team Bush “monstrously transforming [9/11 unity] into fear and suspicion, and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections.” He was virtually alone on TV news in seriously reporting on 2004 election irregularities in Ohio, and in exploring the pre-Iraq war Downing Street Memos indicating White House deception. In recent months, his prime targets seem to have evolved from softer ones like Bill O’Reilly to bigger game: Bush and his minions.

It’s worth noting that strong criticism of an extremist presidency hardly makes Olbermann a leftist. I remember him as the whimsical sports guy on ESPN. I remember his first go-round on MSNBC in 1998 when he could have sued his bosses for repetitive stress disorder for having to host scores of Lewinsky episodes on the road to Clinton’s impeachment – an impeachment that may well have been impossible if not for the complicity of TV news.

It’s obvious his bosses at MSNBC/NBC/GE never envisioned the increasingly bold Olbermann of recent months. It’s likely that Olbermann himself could not have foreseen his current role as the lone voice of those who feel assaulted by a cable news business dominated by the O’Reillys and Hannitys.

So why do I fear for Olbermann? Because I know his bosses. In the runup to the Iraq war, I too worked for MSNBC – as an on-air pundit and a senior producer on the primetime Donahue show.

As I detail in my new book Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, the Suits at MSNBC/NBC muzzled us and ultimately terminated us. They feared independent journalism and serious dissent. They smeared Bush critics, with MSNBC’s editor-in-chief actually going on air – without evidence – to accuse Iraq WMD skeptic Scott Ritter of being a paid agent of Saddam Hussein.

Olbermann has been gaining in audience ratings. That provides him some security. But perhaps not enough.

When Donahue was terminated three weeks before the Iraq invasion, it was MSNBC’s most watched program. Canceling your top-rated show doesn’t happen often, but it happened to Donahue. Who knows what will happen to Olbermann?

With Donahue, management cared less about building up audience than tamping down dissent. While independent outlets and blogs were soaring in audience by questioning the rush to war, our bosses imposed straightjackets on us that prevented similar growth.

In the last months of Donahue, management gave us strict orders: if we booked a guest who was antiwar, we needed two who were pro-war. If we booked two guests on the left, we needed three on the right. When a producer proposed booking Michael Moore, she was told she’d need three rightwingers for ideological balance.

Olbermann’s increasingly bold dissent has been occurring at a time when Bush’s approval ratings are low and Bush’s war is in shambles. That gives him some added security.

During Donahue’s tenure at MSNBC on the eve of war, Bush’s popularity was high. And media conglomerates were particularly concerned about not ruffling the White House at that moment – as they were lobbying hard to get FCC rules changed to allow them to grow still fatter.

The day after Donahue was terminated, an internal NBC memo leaked out; it said that Phil Donahue represents “a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.” Why? Because he insisted on presenting administration critics. The memo worried that Donahue would become a “home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”

NBC’s solution then? Dump Phil, stifle dissent, brandish the flag.

NBC’s solution now? So far, Olbermann appears to be on more solid footing – mostly because the political zeitgeist is much changed from four years ago.

But MSNBC is still owned by GE’s conservative bosses, and managed by NBC’s ever-timid executives. Olbermann knows this reality as well as anyone; six months ago on C-SPAN, while expressing confidence that good ratings would keep them at bay, he remarked: “There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all.”

I’m pulling for Olbermann; I’m one of the multitudes who find his commentaries online (perhaps more see them on the Web than on TV) – and forward them far and wide.

But with each new broadside against the Bush administration, I fear for his future. His best security is us, an active citizenry. It’s media activism, organized heavily on the Net. It’s media watch groups like FAIR and Media Matters for America. It’s the movement that resisted the FCC changes in 2003, challenged Sinclair Broadcast propaganda before the ’04 election, and recently exposed the 9/11 “hijacking” of ABC by rightwing Clinton-bashers.

In the epilogue of Cable News Confidential, I lauded this movement: “My only regret was that such a potent movement had not coalesced by 2002 – to flex its muscles against MSNBC brass in defense of an unfettered Donahue.”

If Olbermann gets muzzled or terminated for political reasons, it will be up to us to fight – not only for him, but for the concept that without serious dissent, democracy is a sham.

Jeff Cohen is the founder of the media watch group FAIR, and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.
"Pray, v:. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy." - Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 06:15 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
check out Democracy Now and the INN report both on satellite (dish network and directv). It will restore your faith in journalism.
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 06:17 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
Some might consider Olbermann a threat to National Security. Detention might be the only alternative!
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 06:18 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
check out Democracy Now and the INN report both on satellite (dish network and directv). It will restore your faith in journalism.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 79718


What channel on DirecTV?
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 06:21 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
bump
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 06:22 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
Olbermann believes alkada did 911? Laughable.

lmao lol pick
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 06:23 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
olbermann is a globalist tool
i\'m sure they\'ll give him a nice globalist promotion soon
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 06:24 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
check out Democracy Now and the INN report both on satellite (dish network and directv). It will restore your faith in journalism.


What channel on DirecTV?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 150919


For the info on Democracy Now
[link to www.democracynow.org]

For the info on INN Report
[link to www.innworldreport.net]
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 06:27 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
if hes on thin ice

then america has already drowned

just another actor

they dont only appear in films you know lmao
rosswave

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10/04/2006 06:39 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
KO is the only mainstream talking head I can stomach . . . Jeff Rense considers him a good guy even . . . but if Olbermann even gets close to 911 Truth or criticizes Israel, he'll be gone....
"What if everything you ever believed was tied up in a little box and eaten by cute little snails?"
--- Mark Morford
AA (OP)

User ID: 150967
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10/04/2006 08:39 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
I got autobanned for posting this!! SOOOOO ANNOYING!!!!
"Pray, v:. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy." - Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
Claycat
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10/04/2006 08:41 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
Democracy Now is a great news source!

Goofy Thum
paladin

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10/04/2006 08:44 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
Democracy Now is a great news source!

Goofy Thum
 Quoting: Claycat 150798




hey...claycat..

I agree...paladin
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 08:47 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
I was thinking about this.

actually, the days of real journalism in the corporate media are over...but the days of real journalism in the blogs, on youtube, google video, forums, alternative media websites are just beginning!

the corporate media is becoming less and less relevant. For myself, I could care less what they say. I don't need them any more.
yankees

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10/04/2006 08:47 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
Olbermann could be considered an enemy combatant and sent to a military prison under the new laws just passed.
Ski now, work later.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 08:57 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
It's a sad day when the truth is considered the villain.
Matrix
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10/04/2006 09:39 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
The media is big business, so is run by big business, and when big business can deal economically with some commies, dictators and Nazis regimes, yet promote war against other commies, dictators and Nazis regimes via the M.I.C's war on terror, you know that the days of real journalism are over.
Anonymous Coward
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10/04/2006 09:40 PM
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Re: The Days of REAL Journalism are over in America... - Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
we have seen the globalist tools on glp promoting the false dialectic
the globalists also have their tools in the MSM doing the same thing

divide and conquer the people
the favorite strategy of the elite

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