Tuesday, August 04, 2009

How many more years, have I got to let you dog me around



Our house has always been Keith Olbermann friendly since he started hosting his MSNBC show. As many have pointed out, we're not sure of his actual politics, but very sure of his disdain for virtually everything the Right has done for the last umpteen years.

And we've always enjoyed Richard Wolffe's appearances on the show. Labelled as an "MSNBC political analyst", he seemed, like Olbermann, to dislike the same people we did. In other words, the 'enemy of my enemy'.

But that was before Glenn Greenwald said this:
On a very related note: this week, former Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe was a guest-host on MSNBC's Countdown while Keith Olbermann is on vacation. When Olbermann is there, Wolffe is a very frequent guest on Countdown, where he is called an "MSNBC political analyst" and comments on political news. All of this, despite the fact that Wolffe left Newsweek last March in order to join "Public Strategies, Inc.," the corporate communications firm run by former Bush White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett, its President and CEO. According to the Press Release they issued to announce Wolffe's joining the company:

Wolffe, most recently Newsweek's senior White House correspondent, officially assumes his new position as a senior strategist on April 13, 2009. He will be based in the firm's Washington office, where he will advise several of its top clients. . . .

Public Strategies, Inc. is a business advisory firm that serves a diverse clientele including some of the world's largest and best-known corporations, nonprofit organizations, associations and professional firms. Public Strategies helps forward-thinking organizations assess public opinion and risk, and develops strategies for managing corporate reputation and uncertainty. Much of its practice involves managing high-stakes campaigns for corporate clients, anticipating and responding to crises.

Having Richard Wolffe host an MSNBC program -- or serving as an almost daily "political analyst" -- is exactly tantamount to MSNBC's just turning over an hour every night to a corporate lobbyist. Wolffe's role in life is to advance the P.R. interests of the corporations that pay him, including corporations with substantial interests in virtually every political issue that MSNBC and Countdown cover. Yet MSNBC is putting him on as a guest-host and "political analyst" on one of its prime-time political shows. What makes that even more appalling is that, as Ana Marie Cox first noted, neither MSNBC nor Wolffe even disclose any of this.

Dang. So even if you agree with them, they can't be trusted.

And indeed, that's the point. Liberal media indeed.

And tonight, an update from Glennzilla:

UPDATE III: Mediaite notes that Olbermann has decided that Richard Wolffe will no longer be on Countdown. At Daily Kos today, Olbermann wrote:

As to Richard Wolffe I can offer far less insight. I honor Mr. Greenwald's insight into the coverage of GE/NewsCorp talks, and his reporting on Richard's other jobs. I must confess I was caught flat-footed. I do not know what the truth is; my executive producer and I have spent the last two months dealing with other things (see above) but what appears to be the truth here is certainly not what Richard told us about his non-news job.

I am confident his commentary to this point has not been compromised - he has been an insightful analyst and a great friend to this show - but until we can clarify what else he is doing, he will not be appearing with us. I apologize for not being able to prevent this unhappy set of circumstances from developing.
Good for Olbermann for doing the right thing there, at least provisionally. As for the comments Olbermann made tonight on Countdown -- in which he denied that GE barred him from mentioning O'Reilly and even mocked O'Reilly for working at a place (Fox) where corporate pressures restrict editorial freedom (claiming that such a thing would never, ever happen at MSNBC) -- for the moment, I will simply note what I wrote on Twitter: "Really surprised by the Olbermann denial -- there's lots and lots of evidence that the NYT's description about what GE did is 100% accurate."

Indeed.