8.11.2009

Keith Olbermann Answers Any Misgivings I Had About His Fox/NBC "Truce" Explanation

I no longer have any doubt: Keith Olbermann wasn't "playing viewers for fools," as HuffPo’s Jason Linkins accused him of.

Last night, when Keith came to Daily Kos to announce & give a snippet of his upcoming Special Comment, Town Halls And Puppeteers, I asked him about something that's been other me about the whole Fox/NBC-MSNBC "truce" and his response to it.

Something just didn't sit right with me and I just wanted, no I needed, a more in depth explanation because I hated having any doubts about someone who was the first to renew my faith about the future of my country -- despite all Bush/Cheney had done to sully it -- when in 2006 he took on Donald Rumsfeld in his first Special Comment, Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

Needless to say, he didn't disappoint in his response to me on this either. It's why I love him.

Here was my question:

Any truth to Jason Linkins' take on "the truce?"

HuffPo’s Jason Linkins wrote a piece about the FoX/MNSBC-NBC "truce" in which he says you're not telling us the truth:

"Keith Olbermann Playing Viewers For Fools On O'Reilly Truce"

I don't know if I'd go so far as Jason, but the more I re-read his piece (& Glenn Greenwald's), the more I don't know what the real story is.

Any chance you can do a more in depth piece about what really went on?

Because it does sounds like there's much more to the story.

And I ask that as a true fan....

All you have to do is check out my blog to know you're one of my heroes.

Being the man that he is, he responded, in depth:
Well...

Let me answer what I know and what I've seen reported that I believe is correct (and I phrase it that tenderly because, frankly, there was stuff in The Washington Post I'd never heard about until Kurtz printed it):

...is there a truce? No. If there was a truce, I couldn't have attacked Beck after he had that psycho Scheuer on, and I couldn't have run the highlights of a day of Obama-bashing after he said there was a network devoted to criticizing him.

...is there a deal? No. If one of the generals in the field says there's no deal, he's still fighting, he's still firing, this statement should be given a little more weight than those of "insiders" or corporate spokesmen.

...was there a deal? Based on what I'm reading, there are 94 different answers to that within a company I might work for, and more at another company. All I can say for sure is: I made no deal.

...was there pressure on me? There has been pressure on me, from my own company, off and on, and at various and always manageable levels, since about June 1, 2003. Hell, one guy tried to stick a Michael Savage commentary in the middle of Countdown. One of the ex-MSNBC presidents once told me he didn't want me being the "liberal answer to Fox." The same guy put me on the 2004 election coverage - at the exit polling desk. I was on for about five minutes over six hours.

One thing I have noticed reported, but only in pieces, that disproves the basic thesis of a deal, or an I-covered-up-for-somebody by turning down the heat on O'Reilly, is this timeline:

  1. I stopped using his name on, I think, the Monday before Memorial Day. I got really tired of it.
  1. The Tiller piece which included the Billo "quarantine" ran two weeks later on June 1 (by the way, it included a couple of minutes of Fox clips OF O'Reilly, Beck et al)
  1. As I told my staff, I may change this back at any time. As I said on the air that night, his words could always be quoted as warranted.
  1. Certainly Fox didn't view the Tiller piece as a truce flag. It gave out the GE CEO's email on June 2.
  1. THEN came the Beck bashing and separately the Fox bashing (or maybe they were in the other order).
  1. I took more than half of July off. So when describing relative frequency of Billo mentions you have to figure that in.
  1. When I left on my vacation I knew that when I came back, I would resume calling him out by name, if not the first night, then soon, and for the rest of his life...

Also, by the way, nearly everything in the last two pieces in The New York Times was leaked directly by Roger Ailes, especially his pathetic vision of having masterminded a deal in which he muzzled his entire network and sold out whatever the hell he thinks news is. If Ailes had any remaining credibility as a newsman, that's out the freaking window now.

Thank you for responding, Keith!

I feel much better now. Your response has soothed my anxiety and while I probably should have had more faith, in this day & age it's really hard too.

Again, thank you for taking the time to respond.

It is truly appreciated.

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