MSNBC Dumps Olbermann and Matthews as Anchors for Debates, Election Night
As Big Tent Democrat noted in his update below, MSNBC has relieved Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews of anchoring duties for the remaining debates and election night coverage. David Gregory will anchor with Matthews and Olbermann appearing as analysts.
The key, I think, is this:
Executives at the channel’s parent company, NBC Universal, had high hopes for MSNBC’s coverage of the political conventions. Instead, the coverage frequently descended into on-air squabbles between the anchors, embarrassing some workers at NBC’s news division, and quite possibly alienating viewers. Although MSNBC nearly doubled its total audience compared with the 2004 conventions, its competitive position did not improve, as it remained in last place among the broadcast and cable news networks.
Keith Olbermann is no different than Bill O'Reilly, they are just on opposite sides. Fox never had (nor would have) Bill O'Reilly anchor a debate or election night coverage. Even the idea of it is laughable. It's no different with Olbermann.
While some critics argued that the assignment was akin to having the Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly anchor on election night — something that has never happened — MSNBC insisted that Mr. Olbermann knew the difference between news and commentary.
I rarely watched Countdown before the primaries. It was all about Olbermann's take on the news rather than the news. It's made worse by his format of interviewing one "expert" guest at a time, also giving an opinionated take. (The roundtable of pundits was better, particularly when they were Rachel Maddow and Pat Buchanan.)
Olbermann and Matthews are talk show hosts and MSNBC should market them as such and give up the pretension they can deliver hard news.
Sure, it was his and Matthews' abysmal coverage of the primaries that ensured millions of viewers wouldn't be back. But it's more than that. Who wants to watch an hour of Keith Olbermann's opinions, backed up by reporters and pundits selected only because they share his view? It's no different than watching Laura Ingraham or Lou Dobbs.
Good for MSNBC for recognizing, however belatedly, that news coverage of live events like debates and election night, should be anchored by journalists with an assist from pundits on both sides. They shouldn't be the main event.
David Gregory will be excellent in this role. He's always been a journalist first and a talk show host second.
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