Olbermann: In or out at MSNBC?


MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann may be having a love fest with fans after the liberal news host was temporarily suspended for donating to Democrats, but the love fest ends there, reports the Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz. (For a separate but interesting mini-drama, click here to read how Kurtz is one of the winners in the Beast’s merger with Newsweek.)

The powers-that-be at MSNBC are uniformly unhappy with Olbermann, reports Kurtz, from old friend and MSNBC President Phil Griffin on up the chain to outgoing NBCU President Jeff Zucker, NBC News President Steve Capus and former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.

“Network staffers use phrases like ‘scorched-earth policy’ and ‘totally narcissistic response’ to describe how Olbermann has dealt with criticism of his political donations. A recurring theme is that he has made it impossible for MSNBC to argue that it is journalistically different from Fox News, which has no prohibition against political donations by such commentators and talk-show hosts as Sean Hannity and Karl Rove. The word hypocrisy has frequently been aimed at Olbermann,” Kurtz writes, who notes that he spoke with eight sources, none of whom would agree to be named. Neither NBC, MSNBC nor Olbermann would be quoted for Kurtz’ story.

Olbermann is halfway through a four-year, $30 million contract, but NBC is about to merge with Comcast, so only time will tell if Olbermann remains the face of MSNBC. Capus is expected to remain in place once Comcast takes over, so it might behoove Olbermann and his team to make nice with him. Still, if you are looking to keep your job, two months before your company is about to merge and gain new leadership is probably not the best time to make waves.

You can follow the outspoken Olbermann on Twitter at @keitholbermann.

Speaking (constantly) of Comcast, reports continue on the coming executive changes at Comcast-NBC. On Saturday, the LA Times‘ Meg James filed this report, noting that Ted Harbert, currently president of E! and Style, is likely to run the business side of NBC. According to reports, both Nancy Tellem, formerly of CBS, and current NBC U Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin had been considered for the job, but both apparently want more purview than the job offers. Reports remain consistent that Robert Greenblatt, former president of Showtime,will oversee NBC’s programming efforts. Comcast COO Steve Burke is expected to make an announcement this week.