Liberal media? Free press? Journalistic integrity? How quaint.
August 1, 2009 1:40 PM   Subscribe

The NYT reports that GE has brokered a deal between MSNBC and Fox News to "reconcile" Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly, preventing further criticism of each other or GE. The deal went into effect June 1, the very same day Olbermann declared he was "quarantining" Fox, avoiding discussion of the channel in the future. Mr. Olbermann, who is on vacation, said by e-mail message, “I am party to no deal.” Glenn Greenwald breaks down the political consequences of the deal.
posted by mek (62 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
LA Times has another take.
posted by mek at 1:44 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just what I'd expect from our liberal conservative corporate media.
posted by grouse at 1:44 PM on August 1, 2009 [15 favorites]

Apparently Bill O'Reilly was talking about how GE had deals going on with Iran. Interesting how he would report on potentially unpopular things that corporations are engaged in, not because he believes in informing the public, but out of personal pique.

MSNBC isn't a "Liberal" news organization, they are a "news organization" that chases dollars. Right now, they're making money on liberals, but a couple years ago they put Micheal Savage on the air, and suppressed criticism of the War when it was getting started.
posted by delmoi at 1:48 PM on August 1, 2009 [10 favorites]

The primary reason I don't watch Countdown are the constant attacks that Olberman subjects Fox and O'Reilly to. Not that I don't agree with alot of what Olbermann gripes about. It is just that I grow tired of his already well known stance toward Fox and O'Reilly. It isn't like he is winning over any new viewers who are already watching MSNBC.

At the same time, I don't watch Fox and O'Reilly because it's, well, Fox and O'Reilly. That is a good enough reason for that.
posted by lampshade at 1:49 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Does this mean Orly and Olby are officially in cahoots?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:49 PM on August 1, 2009

(...taking it as a given that they're secretly in love?)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:52 PM on August 1, 2009

I'm just glad they squashed the beef before someone got shot. We're all in the same gang. Self destruction! You're headed for self destruction!
posted by box at 1:55 PM on August 1, 2009 [6 favorites]

(...taking it as a given that they're secretly in love?)

Best. Fanfic. Ever.
posted by hellojed at 1:55 PM on August 1, 2009 [5 favorites]

The sooner this country ditches 24-hour news networks, the better off we'll all be.
posted by spiderskull at 1:58 PM on August 1, 2009 [18 favorites]

At Fox News, some staff members were told to “be fair” to G.E.

Oh, come now, is that even necessary? It's Fox! Fair and Balanced is practically their motto.
posted by axiom at 2:00 PM on August 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

Yeah, O'Reilly was apparently repeatedly criticizing GE for selling products in Iran. Because selling energy and medical technology to Iran is capital-E Evil, of course. GE now claims they do not do business in Iran - so everyone's a winner?
posted by mek at 2:02 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

"Fair and Balanced" is indeed their motto. The other day I heard FOX News Radio (syndicated on the AM dial) state categorically "The only fair and balanced news organization in the country". I kid you not. It wasn't just a commentator talking out of his arse, it was part of their bumper intro.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:03 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Somebody needs to get their ironymeter serviced.
posted by axiom at 2:04 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

If only GE had some vested financial interest in solving the Israel/Palestine situation.
posted by graventy at 2:05 PM on August 1, 2009

Standing on one side of a line and yelling across it at the top of your voice, ignoring anything counter to your presupposed notions, degrading anyone who disagrees with you, and talking down to the people who agree with you while you encourage them to do the exact same thing in their lives, all while you are being directly backed by a massive corporation and indirectly backed by pretty much all of the other largest corporations on Earth through advertising, while presenting yourself as "independent" is fucking vile.

Anyone who recognizes these qualities in one ought to recognize the exact same facts about the other, because the shows are exactly the same, only with "Democrat" and "Republican" swapped, as well as "Liberal" and "Conservative."

The fact that these two are so close to one another, ideologically, that the line itself is the only thing separating them only makes it worse.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:06 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

It's a media-opoly.
posted by box at 2:09 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Its wonderful to see how one corporately controlled media conglomerate can work out a deal with another corporately controlled media conglomerate to conspire to hide their wrong doings.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:12 PM on August 1, 2009 [5 favorites]

They were always in cahoots. Membership has its privileges.

It was a moneymaker that backfired on the boys upstairs a bit, tut tut.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:13 PM on August 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

in the end, we are all G.E. what they do not own or control they will soon enough.
Why can't one or the other showguys simply say No More and move on, which will get the other to stop or at least look silly. Nah. Must be G.E. to call the tune.
I agree with the comment that I have stopped watching Keith because of his tirades that repeat the same thing. So too his ass of the week or day or whatever. Rachel by contrast a breath of fresh air.
posted by Postroad at 2:13 PM on August 1, 2009

Ha, the end of the LA Times suggests Obama have them all in for a beer.

Perfect. Note perfect.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:14 PM on August 1, 2009

you'd think the talk show radio hosts would pay attention - because as soon as they stir up some truly dangerous outrage in the public, they'll be shut down the same way
posted by pyramid termite at 2:14 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Interesting follow-up comment by GG, replying to someone who claimed "I doubt that anybody silenced Keith Olbermann."

You're wrong, and I know that with 100% certainty.

I also know with 100% certainty that Keith Olbermann isn't going to be denying that he was silenced.

Hopefully Olbermann will make some further comment about the situation.
posted by mek at 2:23 PM on August 1, 2009

Olbermann's a big head blowhard certainly, but he's not "the lefty O'Reilly" by any stretch of the imagination. O'Reilly is angry and often hateful, while the most you get out of Olbermann is self-righteous grandstanding. And the most important distinction is that only one of them appreciates irony.

I watch MSNBC's shows online. I am even quite enamored with Chris Matthews, of all people. But I don't regard cable news as an attempt at high level discourse, as there is a lot of reasoned, academic political analysis out there for the reading if you look for it. I watch MSNBC because I'm not that into watching sports but I am entertained by the game being played between politicians and the media. I think if you're complaining about the lack of journalistic integrity and independence in 24/7 cable news you're missing the point entirely. It's entertainment, and it's a messaging apparatus, nothing more.
posted by palidor at 2:25 PM on August 1, 2009 [5 favorites]

Olbermann said he wasn't "party to a deal". Depending on your definition of "party" he may be telling the truth if this was forced on him.
posted by delmoi at 2:27 PM on August 1, 2009

Exactly my interpretation, delmoi.

I would clarify the FPP because the "June 1" phrasing is not 100% accurate, it's not clear exactly when this was demanded by producers, but it was clearly a product of mid-May talks that came into effect around the beginning of June, coinciding with the June 1 Countdown episode.
posted by mek at 2:31 PM on August 1, 2009

Apparently Bill O'Reilly was talking about how GE had deals going on with Iran

I saw this movie 30 years ago . . .
posted by @troy at 2:36 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Coke vs. Pepsi
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:44 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

If Olbermann had any integrity, he'd resign.
posted by empath at 2:49 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

Corporations big enough to silence their critics? Not good.

Having the power to tell major media figures that they've been repeating themselves for far too long and have to do something new? Man, I'm really on the fence about that one.
posted by ardgedee at 2:50 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Journalistic integrity? In my liberal media?

It's more likely than you think.

Sorry, I'm easy to set off and your title triggered my affliction. Going to read the article now.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 3:05 PM on August 1, 2009

Military/Industrial/Oedipus complex.
posted by The Whelk at 3:09 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

One less reason to watch Olbermann. His shtick is just as tired as Fox News's shtick. I watched Countdown the other night and it was truly like Bush had never left office. Then there's Rachel Maddow, who always has this weird cockeyed squinting going on because she's trying so hard to look like she's not reading the teleprompter.
posted by blucevalo at 3:43 PM on August 1, 2009

I saw this movie 30 years ago

I saw that move about 2 years ago, and was shocked at how relevant it was and continues to be.
posted by jeoc at 3:53 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I actually see these developments as one more reason to watch the show, considering the O'Reilly battling was getting ridiculously vain and boring. Watching Olbermann try to spin his show's ratings vs. O'Reilly's made me feel sorry for him. But anyway saying this "truce" is one less reason to watch the show is saying you enjoy the shtick, I think?
posted by palidor at 3:57 PM on August 1, 2009

I watch MSNBC because I'm not that into watching sports but I am entertained by the game being played between politicians and the media.

Exactly. These guys are not journalists (at least not on their TV shows). They are entertainers. News clowns. However, censorship of clowns is still censorship. Take appropriate action.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:00 PM on August 1, 2009

It's also telling that the one time FOX tells O'Reilly to shut up is when he's actually doing useful reportage. What a waste.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:02 PM on August 1, 2009 [5 favorites]

I guess the only appropriate action is to boycott anything owned by GE? Yet it seems kind of backwards to protest Olbermann being censored by refusing to watch his show. If I enjoy watching American Idol and find out the network chose which song a contestant was to perform after assuming it was the contestant's choice, am I really going to stop watching the show? I think I've just accepted the idea that in media like this there's going to be a bias towards corporate interests. As already mentioned, MSNBC's chasing lefty dollars anyway, so their programming reflects a huge bias in that regard. But I'm obviously okay with that, and while I think there are more egregious cases of censorship that would sour my taste, I'm not giving up my strange affection for this whorish industry any time soon.
posted by palidor at 4:20 PM on August 1, 2009

from now on, i'm going to refer to the Iranians as the "Iranese" just sounds better.

posted by sexyrobot at 4:28 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I occasionally watch these shows, but really they hardly ever have any new information I didn't read online earlier in the day.
posted by delmoi at 4:37 PM on August 1, 2009

(by 'these shows' I mean Olbermann and Maddow, not O'Reilly)
posted by delmoi at 4:38 PM on August 1, 2009

here's the money 'graph from gg:
So here we have yet another example -- perhaps the most glaring yet -- of the corporations that own our largest media outlets controlling and censoring the content of their news organizations based on the unrelated interests of the parent corporation. In light of that, just marvel at what the supreme establishment-power-worshiper Charlie Rose said dismissively in March, 2003, when he had Amy Goodman on his show as a condescending example of someone who opposed the Iraq War, after Goodman touted the vital importance of "independent media" in America:
ROSE: I don't know what "independent" means -- "independent" in contrast to what?
GOODMAN: It means not being sponsored by the corporations, the networks -- like NBC, CBS, ABC: NBC owned by General Electric, CBS owned by Viacom, or ABC owned by Disney --
ROSE: My point in response to that would be that we do need you . . . . Having said that, I promise you, CBS News and ABC News and NBC News are not influenced by the corporations that may own those companies. Since I know one of them very well and worked for one of them.
That's the very same Charlie Rose who sat there with the CEO of GE and the CEO of News Corp. as an agreement was reached to order their news employees to stop criticizing the activities of Fox and GE in order to protect the corporate interests of those parents.
posted by geos at 4:50 PM on August 1, 2009 [8 favorites]

I wish after such startling displays of hypocrisy, such people would just vanish in a puff of smoke.
posted by mek at 5:03 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

It was time these jokers got a room. It was getting embarrassing.
posted by caddis at 5:06 PM on August 1, 2009

Does this mean Orly and Olby are officially in cahoots?
(...taking it as a given that they're secretly in love?)

Life imitates Doonesbury?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:24 PM on August 1, 2009

I wish after such startling displays of hypocrisy, such people would just vanish in a puff of smoke.

My God, wouldn't that be a beautiful world? Where hypocritical thought or action meant you got a cosmic time-out and just vanished into the ether for some amount of time relative to the egregiousness of the hypocrisy?

All of us would spend some time as vapor, I'm sure. But eventually, we'd all learn to knock it off. And the chronic hypocrites in politics, punditry and religion would just spend most of their time as a mist, where they couldn't bother the rest of the world.

Man, I could totally get into that.
posted by darkstar at 5:25 PM on August 1, 2009 [7 favorites]

(...taking it as a given that they're secretly in love?)

Best. Fanfic. Ever.

*bleaches brain*
posted by emjaybee at 5:29 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

The question of how much GE was influencing the NBC newsroom goes back to the late 80s when, shortly after GE bought NBC, coverage of nuclear energy issues seemed to be bent in a particular way.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:31 PM on August 1, 2009

Charlie Rose started out with a nice show on PBS. Now he’s a wretched tool, basking in the reflected glory of his eminent guests.
posted by Huplescat at 5:41 PM on August 1, 2009

I will put two cents in to not lump Maddow in with Olberman just because they're on next to each other on the network's schedule. I think the tenor of their shows is entirely different. So much so, that I actually enjoy watching Maddow, and cannot stand Olberman.

(and yes, Charlie Rose is too much in bed with his guests these days. But I still watch, because it's some of the best conversation on television. I wish Bill Moyers had a daily show.)
posted by hippybear at 6:22 PM on August 1, 2009

There is absolutely no equivalence between what KO does and what that other guy does. KO is such a threat to the other side because he has less than an hour and makes more of an impact that the RWers who get endless promotion, 3 HOUR radio shows, and a corporation that has made its business strategy the propagation of illiteracy, determinism, and the exploitation of simplicity in a complicated world.

Yes, Charlie Rose's name stuck out for me also. His treatment of Eric Prince, the Blackwater 'CEO', is a textbook example of suckingup and PR shielding tactics.
posted by lslelel at 7:34 PM on August 1, 2009

I must second just about everything hippybear said, because Rachel Maddow probably has the most thoughtful show out of all of them, Charlie Rose is still regularly entertaining, and Bill Moyers needs his own network.

Somehow I feel the need to defend the realm of talk television, because it seems the majority of the complaints against it are analogous to someone lamenting that popular music isn't as good as it could be. I mean, they're not directly comparable but both are cases of holding the thing to a wrong standard and looking in the wrong place for a certain kind of quality, I think. Though I never expected that I would ever enjoy both talking heads and Talking Heads.
posted by palidor at 9:02 PM on August 1, 2009

delmoi: MSNBC isn't a "Liberal" news organization, they are a "news organization" that chases dollars.

Welcome to America! That invisible hand shore works in mysterious ways, but it always seems to work out great in the end, doesn't it?

homunculus: O’Reilly to receive a ‘Media Courage Award.’

Oh, come on, man. Who cares? Did you read that article? It says in the first line what idiotic nutbars are giving it to him. I'm not wasting any more outrage on Bill; even my conservative friends seem embarrassed by him nowadays.
posted by koeselitz at 10:47 PM on August 1, 2009

Neither of these guys are journalists, for sure. I notice GG doesn't actually call out Olbermann for.. what seems like misleading his audience by dramatically "quarantining" Fox News, if what really happened was being told to shut down the criticism. The other thing that strikes me is.. O'Reilly didn't go after Olbermann by name anyway, MSNBC/NBC yes, but O'Reilly spends as much airtime as ever calling out the media.. he just complains about the media in general instead of NBC specifically.
posted by citron at 11:15 PM on August 1, 2009

Fox News is the only news network that sued for the right to lie to their viewers.

The won the case.

As long as you always keep that in mind, everything said on Fox News makes perfect sense.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 1:31 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

For what its worth, Olbermann addressed this on his show. He denied any such deal existed as far as he was aware, that he certainly wasn't party to any such deal, and to prove it he brought back O'Reilly to his Worst Person of the World segment, buffoon voice included.

So K.O., at least, is sticking rather firmly to his statement that he has agreed to no such deal.

I tend to believe him in this instance.
posted by Justinian at 5:49 PM on August 3, 2009

He didn't mention GE or Jeffrey Immelt. This is my surprised face.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:54 PM on August 3, 2009

Charlie Rose is a great interviewer if you think the subject is interesting and you want to know what they think about stuff without a lot of filter and confrontation -- you know, actors, writers, philosophers, artists, etc.

He asks intelligent, relevant questions and then gets out of the way, it's fantastic.

That's not really a great way to interview politicians, though.
posted by empath at 9:35 AM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is Charlie Rose at his best.

He's really barely there. He has on three interesting guest and lets them talk.
posted by empath at 9:37 AM on August 4, 2009

Apparently Greenwald will address Olbermann's denial either today or tomorrow. On his twitter he responded with: "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."

Via Jay Rosen, Dan Kennedy discusses Olbermann's decision to smear the NYT reporter who wrote the GE piece.
posted by mek at 12:02 PM on August 4, 2009

Greenwald's followup is posted and he's sticking to his guns 100% with no weasel-words, ifs, ands, or buts. Greenwald essentially says that Olbermann is flat-out lying when he says that he did not and never would agree to a deal which muzzles him and that Olbermann is relying on bullshit weasel words since, technically, he was not asked to agree to a deal but was rather simply ordered to follow certain guidelines.

I hope that's not the case because those are exactly the kind of weasely distinctions that Olbermann has made his bones attacking the Bush administration on. But Greenwald is absolutely vehement that it is the case.

The whole thing sucks.
posted by Justinian at 12:29 AM on August 5, 2009

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