MSNBC Drops Olbermann, Matthews as Election Anchors
Outspoken duo demoted to analysts for debates, election-night coverage.
By Marisa Guthrie -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/7/2008 8:01:00 PM
Keith Olbermann's and Chris Matthews' often-controversial tenure as co-anchors of MSNBC’s election coverage came to an end. Instead, David Gregory, NBC News’ chief White House correspondent, will anchor election night, the three presidential debates and the one vice-presidential debate.
Olbermann, the outspoken host of Countdown, will continue to host his primetime show and will be available as an analyst for the remaining events, as will Matthews.
NBC News spokeswoman Allison Gollust said in an e-mail message to B&C that relieving Olbermann of his anchor duties “clarifies” Olbermann’s role.
“It doesn’t diminish his role on Countdown or its importance to MSNBC,” she wrote.
According to a report in The New York Times, executives at NBC News and parent company NBC Universal made the switch after growing concerns that Olbermann, an outspoken critic of the Bush administration, and Matthews were affecting perceptions of NBC News as an impartial news source.
When VP nominee Sarah Palin criticized the media during her speech at the Republican convention, delegates began chanting, “NBC.” Olbermann’s co-anchor, Matthews, a somewhat lesser target of Republican ire, was also demoted to the role of analyst.
It didn’t help that Matthews and Olbermann engaged in on-air squabbles and put-downs during coverage (watch a clip below) of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The two were separated when network executives decided to keep Olbermann in New York to quarterback MSNBC’s coverage of Hurricane Gustav rather than sending him to St. Paul, Minn., for the Republican National Convention.
The tipping point apparently came last week when Olbermann took issue -- during MSNBC’s Republican National Convention coverage -- of an RNC video showing scenes from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including video of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center.
“I found it ironic and instructive that I could have easily said exactly what I did say, exactly when I did say it, if I had been wearing a different hat, and nobody would have taken any issue,” Olbermann told The New York Times.
MSNBC has received persistent complaints from the campaigns of Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).
During the hard-fought Democratic primary between Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Clinton, the Clinton campaign accused MSNBC of bias and specifically denounced comments made by Matthews and correspondent David Shuster, who mused that Chelsea Clinton was being “pimped out” by her mother’s campaign. Matthews’ “thrill going up my leg” line about Obama became the tag line of a McCain-campaign Web ad purporting media bias in favor of Obama.
Countdown, which was launched in 2003, is the network’s top-rated program and an intended left-leaning counterweight to Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly and his The O'Reilly Factor.
What is it with MSNBC. Is it now the Obama Channel? I am an undecided indepdendent. MSNBC with its high-fiving of Obama "people" and snide remarks and funny faces with McCain "people", have made me realize how bad media tries to slant our opinion. It is like watching a comedy show when watching their obvious political bias antics. Obermann & Matthews are replaced by the same thing--just female. I have dropped MSNBC from my favorite clicking channels. I only watch the channel when I need a good laugh. The channel is an embarrassment to journalism.
Linda Jennings - 9/20/2008 3:09:00 PM EDT
UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!THAT IS WHY I WATCHED MSNBC---NOTE PAST TENSE--MY ELECTION COVERAGE WILL NOT BE ON YOUR STATION NOW THAT YOU HAVE CVED ---DAVID GREGORY IS "WHITE BREAD" BLAND AND SO POLITICALLY CORRECT HE WON'T SAY ANYTHING---YOU CAVED IN AND DROPPPED WHEAT AND RYE BREAD FOR PLAIN OLD BLAH BLAH BLAH---GOD FORBID YOU LET OLBERMAN AND MATTHEWS BE REAL PEOPLE--I LOVED THEIR GIVE AND TAKE---PEOPLE LOVE THEM---POOR POOR POOOR ON YOUR PART----I HAVE HAD MSNBC ON AS MY ONLY CHANNEL FOR NEWS DURING THIS POLITICAL SEASON ESPECIALLY--BUT BEFORE THAT BECAUSE OF ITS REALITY---NOW BACK TO MARY POPPINS AND GROUP---WHO'S NEXT MORNING JOE---O'REILLY IS A PROVEN HYPOCRITE SO HE'S DEFINITELY OFF MY LIST---SO SAD MY HUSBAND AND I WATCHED FOR THOSE TWO REAL PEOPLE---MATTHEWS CAN'T BE BEAT--HOW PATHETIC---GOODBYE MSNBC--LET ME KNOW WHEN YOUR TESTICLES ARE SEWN BACK ON---NOW YOU ARE JUST ANOTHER BLAND BLAH AND BORING "GOD FORBID GET ANYONE UPSET" CABLE NEWS SHOW CATERING TO THE FEW--AS USUAL THOSE OF US OUT HERE HAVE NO BIG VOICES--WELL MAYBE YOUR ELECTION NEWS COVERAGE RATING DROPPING OFF THE CHARTS. PATHETIC--I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT.
JANE N. BAUGHMAN - 9/11/2008 10:59:00 PM EDT
Olbermann is a true patriot,honesty to some is harsh especially to those who are being deceitful. Our country was concieved by individuals that were considered radicals, oh yes, and for the Moral Majority, Jesus was considered a radical by those who thought his views were far to different from theirs.
Keith''s Special Comments were true, well said, and expressed the outrage that any true patriot would feel. I will not be watching the election coverage on MSNBC, but I will continue to watch "Countdown" Thank you Keith for being my voice.
Jesse Marvin - 9/11/2008 2:01:00 AM EDT
I agree with the Kemp post: "I hope NBC also takes note that having Olberman on Sunday Night Football is a huge distraction." Olberman's politics and arrogant delivery has no appeal. His personality and the personality of NBC football is oil on water - a bad mix. He has just one time slot that apparently MSNBC thinks works: to get killed in the ratings by O'Reilly every weeknight. I want to watch NFL football Sunday night, but the risk of his sudden disturbing attitude is too much. I find NFL football elsewhere- there's plenty elsewhere that doesn't use Olberman.
Bob Wright - 9/8/2008 10:49:00 PM EDT
I think you need to drop these 2 completely. It is a disgrace to the entire news media to have them on the air. They have done so much damage, I can't believe it has taken this long to make a change. If you want your viewers back, get rid of them.
Debbie Griffin - 9/8/2008 8:39:00 PM EDT
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