MSNBC’s announcement that it is replacing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews with David Gregory as anchors for its main political events (the upcoming presidential debates and election) vividly illustrates several long-obvious facts. First, nothing changes the behavior of our media corporations more easily than vocal demands and complaints from the Right, which petrify media executives and cause them to snap into line. From today’s New York Times:
The change — which comes in the home stretch of the long election cycle — is a direct result of tensions associated with the channel’s perceived shift to the political left. . . . When the vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin lamented media bias during her speech, attendees of the Republican convention loudly chanted “NBC” . . . . Mr. Olbermann, a 49-year-old former sportscaster, has become the face of the more aggressive MSNBC, and the lightning rod for much of the criticism. . . . The McCain campaign has filed letters of complaint to the news division about its coverage and openly tied MSNBC to it. . . . Al Hunt, the executive Washington bureau chief of Bloomberg News, said that the entire news division was being singled out by Republicans because of the work of partisans like Mr. Olbermann.
Gregory, the veteran Washington hand, will anchor MSNBC’s coverage of the presidential and vice presidential debates and election night, said Jeremy Gaines, network spokesman. Gregory is nothing more than a talking head for the right-wing agenda to placate NBC and John McCain.
The tipping point appears to have come during the Republican convention. When Olbermann, after the network aired a 9/11-themed video prepared by the Republicans said; “I’m sorry, it’s necessary to say this,” he began. After saying that the video had exploited the memories of the dead, he directly apologized to viewers who were offended. Then, sounding like a network executive, he said it was “probably not appropriate to be shown.”
The anger in the blogosphere was palpable. Most couldn’t believe that the Republican Party, whose goal posts are now subterranean, managed to stoop even lower and politicize the worst attack on American soil for their own gain. Liberals and progressives alike, agreed with Keith’s statement, he was absolutely right that it shouldn’t have been shown in that kind of manner.