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Olbermann: It's German For "Hubris"

Well, it's been a couple of days since MSNBC put Keith Olbermann on indefinite suspension, and more details are coming out. The rationale has become clearer -- and more defensible.

MSNBC, like most media organizations, divides its on-air personalities into two categories: "news" and "opinion" folks. News folks are supposed to be the traditional, objective journalists, while the opinion ones are more free to express those opinions in various forms.

Olbermann was defined as a "news" guy, both by MSNBC and himself. (Let's not get into what little resemblance this bore to reality; we're talking strictly on how MSNBC and Olbermann defined his role.) Olbermann openly proclaimed his neutrality, talking about he refused to vote, and repeatedly cast himself as the heir to legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow. MSNBC went along with that fantasy.

Under MSNBC's rules, though, that meant that Olbermann had to seek their approval for any kind of political contributions he made. Contributions are seen as endorsements, and "objective" people don't do that sort of thing.

So when Olbermann gave significant financial donations to a couple of Democrats in Congress without clearing it first with MSNBC, he left them open to being blindsided when news of those donations broke.

Further, it came out that one of those donations (to Arizona's despicable Congressman Grijalva) on the very same day Olbermann was interviewing Grijalva on his show -- without disclosing that he was a backer of Grijalva.

That's going way too far by someone who is pronounced -- by both his network and himself -- as an objective journalist.

Even that could have been overcome. MSNBC apparently offered Olbermann a chance to make it all go away if he just acknowledged on air that he shouldn't have made those donations, but Olbermann refused. He's clinging to his fantasy that he's the indispensable man at MSNBC, and that they will cave and beg him to come back -- on his terms.

And that ain't gonna happen. Olbermann is (well, was) the bottom-rated network's highest-paid guy, but his ratings simply haven't justified that pay rate. What he's done is give them an excuse to get rid of him without having to buy out his contract -- at a time when they're looking to be sold to Comcast, which doesn't care much about ideology but cares a great deal about the bottom line. Losing Olbermann improves that bottom line.

So Olbermann has blustered his way out of a job. And good riddance -- he's a pompous, blustering, asshat par excellence. And his removal was entirely justified and in full accordance with MSNBC's stated and public policies -- which he broke, then refused to acknowledge.

Could he return to MSNBC? Well, it would require two things: an acknowledgment by Olbermann that he erred, and a redefinition of him as an opinionator and not a journalist. And Olbermann simply has too much ego to accept either.

Where will he turn up next? I dunno. But I'll be curious to see how it all plays out. I've never watched a single episode of his show (and, apparently, now never will), only clips, but it's entertaining to watch him blither and bluster and take himself far, far more seriously than he deserves. I see him taking his first show (on wherever he shows up) to denounce the "cowards" at MSNBC who turned on him and threw him to the wolves.

And it will be remarkably entertaining to watch. The funniest thing about Olbermann is that he simply doesn't see that he's such a joke.

And we need our laughs these days.

Update: Keith Olbermann reacts to news that he has to abide by the same ethics rules as every other MSNBC employee:


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Comments (44)

"Where will he turn up next... (Below threshold)

"Where will he turn up next?"

Maybe he can co-anchor with Dan Rather on that obscure radio station.

Nah, even Dan Rather has standards.

One thing Keffums did learn. Karma is a bitch!

Self enacted term limit by... (Below threshold)

Self enacted term limit by political hack.

Keith was the best, the wri... (Below threshold)
Metro Marcus:

Keith was the best, the writer of this article is a Nazi. Why don't you go and talk about Fox News that is ALL ABOUT OPINIONS AND NOT NEWS???

Every Fox "journalist" pays money to the GOP and Tea Party. Hypocrisy at it's finest...bleh!

M&M's melt in your mouth an... (Below threshold)

M&M's melt in your mouth and not in your hand. bleh!!!

The previous comment is cla... (Below threshold)
Tea Party Democrat:

The previous comment is classic liberal propaganda; accusation but absolutely no facts. If Fox analysts and journalists make the same kind of contributions as Olbermann, where are the facts. Bring them forward so it can be verified and we can have a debate with more than just biased opinion.

I was appreciating the news... (Below threshold)

I was appreciating the news info in this article and then simply lost any faith in you when you wrote: "I've never watched a single episode of his show (and, apparently, now never will), only clips..."

How does a person write such an article about a topic when that person admits to never having watched the program?

bring keith back, why so ma... (Below threshold)

bring keith back, why so many others contribute bur he cannot. the old republicans must have go to the the big wigs. moremoney exchanged/

Jeff, I've probably seen se... (Below threshold)

Jeff, I've probably seen several HOURS of Keef's clips. I have never sat through a full show of his. You wanna say that if I saw a full hour of Keef, it would outweigh calling Michelle Malkin "a mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick" or wearing a "Bill O'Reilly is a Nazi" mask?


I'd like to thank Metro Mar... (Below threshold)

I'd like to thank Metro Marcus and priscilla wood for their intelligent comments.

"Every Fox "journalist" ... (Below threshold)

"Every Fox "journalist" pays money to the GOP and Tea Party. Hypocrisy at it's finest...bleh!"

Yes and Barry was born in a manger. Facts not conjecture Metronome.

"MSNBC, like most media org... (Below threshold)
retired military:

"MSNBC, like most media organizations, divides its on-air personalities into two categories: "news" and "opinion" folks. News folks are supposed to be the traditional, objective journalists, while the opinion ones are more free to express those opinions in various forms.

Olbermann was defined as a "news" guy, both by MSNBC and himself

Doesnt MSNBC know that those drugs are illegal and can be harmful. I mean come on. That is about as close to reality and the monsters under my bed when I was 2.

"Olbermann was defined as a... (Below threshold)
retired military:

"Olbermann was defined as a "news" guy, both by MSNBC and himself"

So by that definition Rush and Hannidy are also news reporters.

I've heard this same dribbl... (Below threshold)

I've heard this same dribble so many times on the net over the last couple of days. It's astonishing to me how much regurgitated spew comes hurling out of the far right, brain washed fox clones who have the same useless opinion of Keith without ever even watching him. You simply can not have an informed opinion on something you clearly know nothing about. Try, try real hard to use the gift of thought God gave you. I understand that it's going to be very hard for you. I feel for you and whose like you, just take it slow, watch & listen to all sides (FOX, MSNBC, ect.) of a debate, argument or opinion before you open your blow hole. It will make you look smarter and you'll feel much better about yourself. You might even learn something along the way, even wisdom.

Well, half of Olberdorks au... (Below threshold)

Well, half of Olberdorks audience has checked in. Can we get the other half to stop by?

Perhaps Keefums biggest gaf... (Below threshold)

Perhaps Keefums biggest gaff was going around telling everyone "Phil Griffin thinks he's my boss."

As Ron White has observed, "You can't fix stupid."

First up, Michael, it's "dr... (Below threshold)

First up, Michael, it's "drivel," not "dribble." Stop being such a Keith.

Second, I'm simply pointing out that MSNBC -- like Fox -- has a policy that divides its on-air staff into two categories, and has different rules for each. Fox seems to have a simple rule: if the show is named after the host, it's opinion; if it's not, it's news. If you have proof that Bret Baier or Megyn Kelly or any of their "news" people have done that, please cite it.

Otherwise, feel free to spread your "dribble" elsewhere.


Great video! D'Oh-lbermann ... (Below threshold)

Great video! D'Oh-lbermann at his best!

Keith's biggest failure isn... (Below threshold)
Rich Fader:

Keith's biggest failure isn't that he was a lefty, or even that he was, against the rules, putting his money where his mouth was. His biggest failure is that even going back to his local sports days in LA, he was a witty, entertaining commentator. Once he started doing "Countdown"...not so much.

Of course he was defined as... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Of course he was defined as a news guy. You would otherwise want to defend his bile as intelligent and incisive analysis and commentary?

The problem is this: MSNBC can't bring him back without an on air apology. He won't give them one. He won't work for Fox (who could pick him up to poke fun at him), and I can't think of anyone outside of NPR that has the same ideological myopia that he has where he would fit in.

keith stepped on his primar... (Below threshold)

keith stepped on his primary sexual organ while wearing his golf shoes.

Lighten up guys and gals. L... (Below threshold)

Lighten up guys and gals. Like all the rest of the folks of his generation and political persuasion Keithebabe was doing the best he could.

I wouldn't put it past Murd... (Below threshold)

I wouldn't put it past Murdock to hire Keefums. He could write off the entire hour as a financial loss. I'm sure he's having his accountants look at it to see if it would improve the bottom line after taxes.

I'll spread my "dibble/driv... (Below threshold)
Michael Messina:

I'll spread my "dibble/drivel" where I like, it's America, thank you very much.

You sight two people out of the whole FOX brood that I agree are exceptions, you forgot shep. I like Shep and always have, but the rest are clearly opining the "right wing" ideology, and that's fine. David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Dylan Ratigan are exceptions on the other side. Keith is counter balance to Hannity, O'Reilly, Fox & Friends, Morris, Rove, Palin, a bevy of fox bubble heads, and Limbaugh (though not on Fox is included). Even Greta has moved more to the right in recent times. Simply put, without counter balance to an argument, any argument or dispute, you'll not be able to make your own informed opinion/decision. Like Keith or not, he is necessary for a proper understanding of issues. But what do you care anyway, you don't watch MSNBC, I however have always watched FOX as well as MSNBC, CNN, Headline News, BBC America, and listen to Limbaugh and NPR. After I hear from all sides I make an informed judgment call, I've even agreed with FOX on occasion, though not much. You should try it.

You state your opinion without research of the other side. Why listen to you? It would be very bad for this country If one side is all you heard, however FOX would most certainly love that.

No, Michael, you WON'T spre... (Below threshold)

No, Michael, you WON'T spread your "dribble" where you wish -- like MSNBC, we're not the government and can and will "censor" you if we wish.

I picked two off the top of my head. You brought up the topic of Fox people breaking the principle that MSNBC spelled out -- feel free to back up what you assert, with names.

MSNBC had a simple rule. Olbermann chose to break it. He also chose to say that his boss only "thinks" he's his boss.

You're almost right -- Keith TRIED to be a counterbalance to Fox. But he did it while he and MSNBC said he was an objective journalist. Stupid git.

It's a wonder who was stupider -- him or you.


Michael, you also forget (c... (Below threshold)

Michael, you also forget (conveniently) that Fox and Friends, Greta, O'Reilly, etc. always, and I mean always have the opposing view whether from a professor to Lemont,Juan Williams, Colmes, etc. You never see that balance at MSNBC. So live in your vague, pretend bubble, but the world is better off with Hypocrit Olbermann being off the airwaves.

2010 is such a great year for conservatives. Better then expected. Now Pelosi will run for minority leader then we will have the White House in 2012. ww

Since this is my last comme... (Below threshold)
Michael Messina:

Since this is my last comment you can go ahead and censor it if you like, I don't care. Censoring another view point is what your all about.

I said nothing about whether Keith was right or wrong in contributing money or " breaking the principle that MSNBC spelled out". As far as FOX having anything remotely comparable to MSNBC's principles or policies is an out right laugh. Hannity not only donates, but raises money, and shrills for the right from the very second he's on.

My argument was simply about balance, and the fact that you no nothing about it, nothing more.

But what's more sad is that you, like all right wing people, feel it necessary to resort to name calling to prove a point. Typical for those whose mental faculties are below average.

I'm not upset, I just pity you.

Good bye & good riddance.

Hope you learn to grow as a human being.

Messina - typical liberal, ... (Below threshold)

Messina - typical liberal, loses the argument BECAUSE HE MISSES THE POINT ENTIRELY.

Then does the standard liberal shtick, claims VICTIMHOOD!

Michael, I pity you. Go drink some Kool Aid.

Wow. Michael if you do com... (Below threshold)

Wow. Michael if you do come back and read this, and your vain comments point to "yes", look back in the older posts for names like galoob, Henry and Crickmore. Then come back and tell us how the site censors opposing viewpoints in the comments.

Mock: Yes. Censor: Not so much.

As for Hannity... he's op-ed, not news.

BTW, look up the term cite and citation.

Michael, I don't intend to ... (Below threshold)

Michael, I don't intend to "censor" you. You're such a stellar example of the ignorant left, I'd almost PAY you to stick around.

I was pointing out that you have as much "right" to post comments here as Olbermann does to be on MSNBC's shows -- none.

I "no" plenty about balance. (You meant "know" there.) What you don't grasp is that Olbermann was not officially to provide "balance," but unbiased journalism. He was laughably bad at that, but that was the official story put out by him and MSNBC. That fiction was stretched beyond the breaking point when he started donating to his guests' campaigns -- without disclosing it to his employers (who had a specific rule against it) or his viewers (all seven of them).

As the old saying goes, it ain't the crime that gets you, it's the coverup. If Olbermann had simply owned up to being an opinionator and dispensed with his laughable fiction of "objectivity," if he'd acknowledged his donations before they were uncovered, he'd still be stinking up the airwaves. He didn't; he thought that rules were for little people.

Now he's a little person. His public profile now matches the smallness of his character.

So, Michael, feel free to stick around. you might learn something.

In spite of yourself.


It is totally irrelevant wh... (Below threshold)

It is totally irrelevant what Fox News' policies are as to whether Keith Olbermann broke NBC policies. Olbermann is an NBC employee, not a Fox employee.

If Fox has a similar policy, it is Fox's business as to whether or not they wish to enforce that policy on their employees.

If Keith Olbermann broke NBC policies and NBC wants to enforce that policy. That is their business. Keith Olbermann does not have a 1st Amendment right to have a show on MSNBC. NBC Management taking him off the air is not an infringement of his right to free speech.

They're also catching hell ... (Below threshold)

They're also catching hell for the Leg Thriller for his bizarre 'interview' with Bachmann election night and his latest theory why people don't agree with him - they're "hypnotized".

I don't think they're going to go easy on Worst In The World right now, I think one of the suits finally has had enough of their network being a laughingstock, not to mention the nonexistent ratings. Think 'Air America'.

"Hannity not only donat... (Below threshold)

"Hannity not only donates, but raises money, and shrills for the right from the very second he's on."

Sean shrills for the right? Good for him. I do hope its not contagious.

Olbermann isn't being suspe... (Below threshold)

Olbermann isn't being suspended for campaign donations or for being one of the most hated people in broadcast television. The latter is a résumé enhancer at NBC. And you can bet your bottom dollar that every other "face" at MessNBC has kicked a few thou in the direction of the Democrats at some time or another. In show business (and that's what TV news is), at some point, it's all about the ratings. So this is merely a convenient opportunity for NBC to do what they've wanted to do for awhile.
As to honest: an elitist media organization demonstrate some degree of honesty? Well, they say there's a first time for everything, but I don't expect to see that one in my lifetime.

Just announced:Olb... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Just announced:

Olbermann will be back Tuesday.

So apparently liberal pique has a two business day expiration. So much for standards. I'll wager that if he had appeared on Fox they'd have sacked him directly.

Evidently their hoping on g... (Below threshold)

Evidently their hoping on getting at least 12 viewers Tuesday night.

If it works, look forward to MSNBC 'sacking" Keefums on a regular basis.

"That's going way too fa... (Below threshold)
Jerry Chandler:

"That's going way too far by someone who is pronounced -- by both his network and himself -- as an objective journalist."

Actually, Olbermann has more than once stated on air that he is in fact an active advocate for the Left's point of view.

jim m: "I'll wager that if he had appeared on Fox they'd have sacked him directly."

No, because Fox News has no real standards of ethics for their employees on such matters. To quote Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin.

"Unlike Fox News (pay attention, Media Matters Soros-bots), NBC ethics guidelines (yes, they do have them) bar their employees from making political contributions. (FNC's real-world, pro-free speech rules allow donations as long "as long as the activity does not interfere with or impair the performance of the employee's duties for the Company.")"


She also provided the following link to prove it.


Umm. Jerry, since you obvi... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Umm. Jerry, since you obviously couldn't figure it out I was drawing a parallel between Olbermann's experience and that of Juan Williams. If Olbermann had appeared on Fox they would have sacked him just as Williams was sacked essentially because he appeared on Fox(yes I know that NPR claims otherwise, but with Nina Totenberg still on their payroll their claims seem a little less than believable).

"(yes I know that NPR cl... (Below threshold)
Jerry Chandler:

"(yes I know that NPR claims otherwise, but with Nina Totenberg still on their payroll their claims seem a little less than believable)."

On the flipside of that...

Nina Totenberg said something amazingly stupid and got reprimanded for it, but there does not seem to be a history of repeat violations of policy by her. Williams had apparently been getting into quite a few back and forths with his bosses at NPR over policy; specifically policy as to what he could and could not do with outside employment.

Do note that Mara Liasson tends to keep her comments on Fox News far more neutral in nature. I have also never seen her get worked up and overblown on an issue the way Williams has nor have I seen her make comments that makes her ability to analyze things impartially come under question the way Williams repeatedly did on O'Reilly. She follows the NPR guidelines for what their employees can and cannot do with outside employment and, do take note, she still works for NPR.

'The funniest thing about J... (Below threshold)

'The funniest thing about Jay Tea is that he simply doesn't see that he's such a joke."


fixer, I resent that. NO ON... (Below threshold)

fixer, I resent that. NO ONE is better at laughing at me than I am.

Least of all you.


the bottom-rated n... (Below threshold)
the bottom-rated network's highest-paid guy

which, in this case, is akin to being the shiniest turd in the punch bowl.

@ _Mike_: change the last ... (Below threshold)

@ _Mike_: change the last 2 words in your comment to the word "SHITTER" and it is PERFECT!!!

He's not just a joke, accor... (Below threshold)
Michael Messina:

He's not just a joke, according to Lee Ward he's a Limbaugh Wannabe.

Lee Ward writes:
"Our sister site Wizbang features a writer who is -- how can I say this politely -- "prone to go on at great lengths about the most inane subjects." Not surprisingly, like many of his right wing brethren, Jay Tea also appears to model himself after the right wing blogosphere's highly revered icon of right wing hate Rush Limbaugh, and Jay has gone so far as to recently attempt to break in to the hate radio genre on a local radio station."

I did some research on you. It appears that you've been in the far right cradle spewing your ridiculous trash for some time. Foolish me for thinking that this latest crap of yours was actually an issue open for debate. Not at all, this was the usual right wing never ending noise coming from a scared little child man, and not open for discussion but agreement.

I blame myself for walking into a far right maggots nest, I should have looked before I leaped. You're right about one thing, and only one thing, and that is that I don't belong here, this is for the loons who buy into your garbage.

I know you think of yourself as cleaver, you're not. You're what all right wing nut jobs are "terrified of change", scared little sheep touting the status quo and doing everything your tiny minds can think of to stifle progress.

But progressing forward is what humanity is all about, it's unavoidable, it will happen, it always has. Oh yes, you can slow it down with lies and fear, money and power, but not for long. It is the progressives that look into that unknown future with wonder and enlightenment, and work to make a better future for all of mankind.

Conservatives are just that, conservative, not quite willing to change the status quo, afraid of change.

It always amazes me how strong the right believes they are. Always shouting red neck tough guy propaganda, advocating war, using fear of change to stoke their agenda. You're all just miserable frightened little sheep. So scared of change, filled with misery and loathing, and unwilling to care or help your neighbor. It's all about greed and me, me, me, and the fantasy that you may be rich some day. "Don't want anyone touching my money" should be your mantra. Liberals are among the truly brave, willing to look forward into the unknown, fighting to right the wrongs in society, while the right sits paralyzed with fear.

The Right is good at one thing however, and that is keeping the sheep afraid and at each others throats, slowing change. Most are not yet intelligent enough to see through your twisted little game. But they will eventually, enlightenment will come no matter how long it takes, you can't stop it.

If your precious Right has it's way they'll raise the retirement age so high that you'll most likely drop dead on your so called job. Maybe you'll get sick, really sick, and without health care you'll spend every dime just trying to survive. Is your corporate overlords going to help you, your right wing government, hell no they won't. It's every man for himself in the far right philosophy, you make it by their standards, or you don't, and if you don't, you can die like the rest. Better get rich, age is a bitch, and getting old comes with a great deal of unforeseen consequences.

You make me sick, I've dealt with your kind all of my life, the same tired rhetoric repackaged. Why don't you do something positive with your miserable little life, get off your ass and help someone who needs it. Do something, anything to help your fellow man, do something your Creator would be proud of. But you won't. you're a gutless crybaby Limbaugh wannabe like Lee Ward said.

As for the GarandFan post:

Messina - typical liberal, loses the argument BECAUSE HE MISSES THE POINT ENTIRELY.
Then does the standard liberal shtick, claims VICTIMHOOD!
Michael, I pity you. Go drink some Kool Aid.

Victim, not on your life Bitch, but do save the Kool-Aid, eventfully you're going to need it when you realize that your nothing more than a corporate indentured slave, and a pawn of the wealthy.

Anyway Keith's back, not so little of a man after all, eat it, and


No, Michael, I don't think ... (Below threshold)

No, Michael, I don't think I'm "cleaver." I think I occasionally wield one, but I am quite certain that I am not a cleaver.

Oh, did you mean "clever?" Yeah, I think I am. Guilty as charged. Certainly more clever than you.

You're quoting Lee Ward? Man, you SO don't wanna go there. That guy was a raving, frothing psychopath who is so far gone, he doesn't need to adjust his meds -- he should just be put down like the rabid animal he is.

"Limbaugh wannabe?" I don't even particularly like Limbaugh. I wanna be me. And I think I'm doing a pretty good job at it.

I've been blogging for about six and a half years, and I think I'm damned good at it. Look at how worked up I've gotten you -- that takes some skill.

Or maybe not. You seem like the hysterical type, so it probably doesn't take much. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say you're relatively sane, so I'll take your hissiness as a compliment to my writing ability.

Your "research" on me is woefully shoddy. I'm a born-again Agnostic, so appeals involving the "Creator" don't move me in the least. And I have done quite a bit to help others -- I'm a seven-gallon blood donor, closing in on #8. That works out to roughly five times the human body's capacity.

And if you wanna take that as bragging, I can live with that, too. Maybe it'll challenge you to do something worthwhile yourself.

And didn't you say earlier you were gonna leave, and never come back? There's a term for that sort of thing, Michael. The precise term escapes me, but "gutless chickenshit" comes close.

Note that earlier I did not threaten to ban you -- I merely noted that I had that authority, contradicting your assertion that I did not. Nor have I made that threat before.

I am doing it now. Feel free to spout all your own "dribble" you like, but don't go parroting the words of Lee Ward. Those words were enough to get him banned; they will be more than sufficient to get someone else who mindlessly parrots them.

One final request: LEARN TO SPEAK ENGLISH, YOU SUBLITERATE DOLT. It's "mindless drivel," it's "think you're clever," it's "maggots' nest," it's "are your corporate overlords going to help you," and your 10th and 11th paragraphs are nothing but strung-together rantings into run-on sentences and poorly-punctuated rhetorical devices.

I thought you might be Lee Ward, back yet again but this time under a fake name. But to give the sociopath his due, he at least was literate. His ravings were at least spelled and punctuated correctly, and his grammar was proper. You, on the other hand... you oughta go back to whatever high school gave you a diploma (warning: assumption here!) and sue them for malpractice and fraud.

No wonder you're a liberal/progressive/whatever. You NEED the big government nanny state to take care of you.

There's no shame in being so below average, Michael. The real shame is in denying it.

And the greatest shame is that everyone else be treated as if they were just as defective and incompetent as you, just so you don't feel bad about being so powerless and useless. For the sake of your fragile self-esteem, you need to make everyone else just as dependent as you are.

No thanks.







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