Policy Documents

Olbermann Blame Game to Serve Push for More Speech, Telecom Regulations

S.T. Karnick –

Talk-show host Keith Olbermann abruptly announced that he was leaving his position as host of the MSNBC show Countdown at the end of last Friday night’s show. Olbermann had hosted the program since 2003 and had more than a year remaining on his contract. A buyout of his contract was done, he said, by mutual agreement between him and MSNBC.

Olbermann gave no specific reason for his decision to leave MSNBC at this time. The blogosphere, however,  immediately lit up with posts blaming cable giant Comcast, which is planning to merge with MSNBC parent corporation NBC/Universal in a matter of days. Comcast issued a statement noting that it does not yet own NBCU and that it had “pledged from the day the deal was announced that we would not interfere with NBC Universal’s news operations. We have not and we will not.”

This move in the blame game was to be expected, of course, given that the progressive left has been portraying the proposed Comcast/NBCU merger as a test case of how fully the Obama administration would regulate the telecommunications media, with the progressives hoping for a move to extremely intensive regulation. Current indications are that the Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission will do everything it can to regulate public communications, with utter disregard for the law. Olbermann’s departure from MSNBC will at minimum serve as a rallying point for progressives who want to silence opposing voices in the media, and has already begun to do so.

S.T. Karnick (skarnick@heartland.org) is director of research for The Heartland Institute.