The Ego Wars Continue at MSNBC
That video that Seth showed you, last week of Keith Olbermann lamenting the fact that NBC decided to show a 9/11 tribute video, aired during the Republican National Convention, was the death knell in Olbermann’s future as an anchor for this election. Apparently, the big whigs at NBC had had enough of Chris Mathews, Keith Olbermann, and Joe Scarborough mucking up their attempts at objective coverage, so they have jerked both Obermann and Mathews out of the anchor chair, and chose to put the bland, stuffy David Gregory in as their replacement. Obermann and Mathews will now serve, more appropriately, as commentators for the rest of 2008’s election coverage.
I actually applaud the move. David Gregory is fairly benign, but that’s sort of what you want when it comes to an anchor. But more than that, MSNBC’s frothy liberal attitude is starting to hurt the brand identity of both Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams. Truthfully, I like them all (except for Scarborough, of course), and I actually do hate to see the objective reputations of Brokaw and Williams take a hit. Perhaps it’s a sign of my age, but I watch the “Nightly News” fairly regularly, and I tune in hoping to find out America’s general sentiment toward the candidates are, and not what the left or right thinks.
Olbermann is great at what he does — namely, playing counter to Bill O’Reilly. But he has no business anchoring. It was also strange to see him, last night, anchoring “Sunday Night Football.” I’ll concede that, though it was kind of stale, I enjoyed his repartee with Dan Patrick, again. It was familiar, and kind of comforting, a reminder of what ESPN used to be. But it’s next to impossible to separate Olbermann from his MSNBC personae now, and his one attempt to shoe-horn an O’Reilly dig into the broadcast made me cringe. Not because I don’t agree, but because it doesn’t belong there. People should have the option of going either left or right of the dial, but if they tune in expecting the center, they shouldn’t be subjected to the political opinions of football analysts. ESPN tried it with Rush Limbaugh, and it was a horrible idea. It is no less horrible now that they’ve found someone I align with politically.
Gawker, however, has a different opinion on the matter, and makes some pretty solid points about why MSNBC should stay crazy. And if MSNBC and NBC were more distinct organizations, I’d probably agree with them.