Is Keith Olbermann’s dismissal and re-admission to MSNBC the real story?
By Rhiannon Waits
(1) MSNBC is well known for being a network of liberal views and a strong condemning voice of other networks. (2)In what appeared to be a respectable stance in enforcing their policies diverted quickly to backing one host in his blatant disregard of their own guiding principle. Within 48 hours of suspending Keith Olbermann, a host that some perceive is a distasteful judgmental voice and others a voice of reason, reappeared on his show apologizing to viewers for being exposed to the “drama”.
Keith Olbermann, the liberal voice for MSNBC, was suspended indefinitely without pay on November 5th after MSNBC, discovered that he contributed to the campaigns of three Democrats last month. (8) He donated $2,400 to the campaigns of Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and Attorney General Jack Conway of Kentucky. In his actions he broke his contract and the ethical guidelines set forth by MSNBC.
Whereas many missed the point in the whole fiasco, to others it was as transparent. Many hosts, such as (3) Rachel Maddow, grasped the opportunity to muddy the waters with finger pointing at Fox News for Sean Hannerity’s and other Fox hosts political contributions. If, as a country, we want to implement policies and transparencies, we have to stay on track and not be diverted by smoking mirrors. Fox News’s policies do not forbid them to make political contributions. It was MSNBC’s policies which were broken, not Fox News’s.
(4)When President Obama was elected to his office, his pledge of transparency fell upon the ears of those weary of being lied to and kept in the dark, which netted his bid for presidency numerous votes. The need to be informed was in the hearts of the American citizen and we yearned for truth and integrity from every public figure. We need to keep in mind these desires when digesting the flip-flop of MSNBC’s decision.
(5)Amidst rumors of Olbermann would join the Fox Networks, a network he continually bashed, I went in search to validate such a claim yet came back empty-handed with the exception of a couple of entries. Once again, I returned to my original stance of focusing on what is essential to the American people and that is an honorable stance in any government or news medium.
This is not about Fox News or what their Hosts have or have not done. It is about breaking rules and policies and, in addition, the enforcing of any policies made. MSNBC has shown us what their stance on such is by the decisions they have made regarding Keith Olbermann. Whether they realize it or not, they have exposed to us their scruples in making policies and not enforcing them. They are just words on a paper to impress the public. Their employee’s do not have to follow policies, contracts or rules and regulations. They will just litter the airwaves with drama that lacks any sustenance to the American palate.
Fox Networks rules and regulations do not prohibit their hosts or employees from making contributions to political figures. Many may feel they should have such embedded within their employee contracts, however they do not. The finger pointing in this instance can be described as repugnant and insulting to our intelligence. (6) It’s not about which is the correct policy but instead about who has the ethical fortitude to enforce them, to which MSNBC has failed miserably in my opinion.
Will the world be able to trust MSNBC’s ability to uphold any of their rules in the future? Will they continue to portray themselves as a network which enforces a strict code of moral conduct? That is entirely up to what the public feels is significant. They will define themselves as network who believes rules are made to broken or a network that enforces their policies and at another time inspects them to see if they want them rewritten.
Regardless, the reputation they imbue, MSNBC will stay on air while knowing this will be an event that we will all forget over a period of time. That’s human nature to forget when fresher news flashes on our televisions and newspapers. (7)According to a poll, cited on bloggernews.net, republicans trust the news less than democrats. This may be the advantage MSNBC, an admittedly left-wing news source, finds as its “saving grace”. As one part of American pushes this event in the back of their minds, another part will trust them loyally and unquestionably to do the morally correct thing in their policies.
I find it hard to ingest any news coming from a source that cannot stand by their writ of moral conduct. It doesn’t matter if I agree with what is written, it is the ability to follow their own policies that make me distrust anything coming from their network. I won’t be able to have confidence in their opinions on news since they have publicly lowered their standards and integrity.
I don’t see this as reflection on Keith Olbermann but instead one on MSNBC. It truly is not about his breaking the policy (although it does define his mindset) yet instead about the networks “wishy washy” politics within their own company. Their constant maligning of other networks to take the heat off of their selves only adds to my conviction they lack the ability to look at events with an unbiased eye. This is an essential quality to any network regardless of their political angle. We need to have left and right wing networks to ensure we can watch both to achieve balance. However we cannot achieve that balance without truth or enforcement of ethical guidelines.
Keith Olbermann is back where he was before the fiasco, MSNBC is still on air and yes, they are still delivering to you their usual spin on the news. Every network has their spin. The real question is who can we trust to give us the news in a structured, unbiased way? We will have to watch and remember the faux paus of each network and judge for ourselves.