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Mark Levin vs. Keith Olbermann: The Two Jeffs, Immelt and Zucker, Scheming to "Bluewash" GE--Too Clever By Half?
Written By mista sense on Monday, May 19, 2008 | 9:16 AM
The Cable Gamer has always figured that one key reason why the corporate hulk of GE/NBC/MSNBC keeps Keith Olbermann around is that the Two Jeffs (GE chief Jeff Immelt and his sidekick, NBC chief Jeff Zucker) figure that Olbermann "covers" their corporate conglomeration with the political/environmental Left.
That is, if GE is a $320 billion company, doing all sorts of, well, corporate things, then it's going to inevitably have lots of enemies among anti-corporate activists. So what to do?
One answer would be to put someone like Olbermann out there as a sort of one-man ideological bait-and-switch. (And with all of MSNBC moving in the same direction, call it a one-network bait-and-switch.) That is, cloak GE in the liberalism of Olbermann and the rest of MSNBC. Does that make sense? Sure it does!
(There's a phenomenon in corporate circles known as "greenwashing"-- that is, a company such as BP, which is basically an oil company [BP=British Petroleum] wakes up one day and declares itself to be an environmental company. It's all b.s., of course, but if BP spends enough money, a few eco-activists will either fall for it, or else simply be bought off.)
So if you're a lefty anti-corporate activist, you might think that GE, which has operations all over the world, from Africa to Latin America to Iran, might make a good target for some sort of "soak the rich" campaign. GE makes... plastics? Yuk! Jet engines? Ugh!! Nuclear power plants? Argh!!!
But hey, such an anguished lefty might say to himself or herself, wait a second! GE also has Olbermann on the payroll, and he hates George W. Bush. I mean, truly hates Bush. And he despises all Republicans, too. So Olbermann provides GE with some "bluewashing," as in blue-vs-red.
Indeed, so eager is MSNBC to push Olbermann to the forefront that it flouts the normal journalistic conventions. One might think, for example, that Olbermann's obvious anti-conservative bias would stop stop MSNBC from using Olbermann in presidential debates. One might think that, but one would think wrong, because there he has been. (By contrast, Fox has never dared to use Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity in its presidential debates.)
But in fact, Olbermann's overt bias is why the Jeffs like him! The more the GOP-bashing overtness, the better the cover for GE!
Also, it must be noted, Olbermann is getting better ratings lately--the Zeitgeist is so anti-Bush these days that perhaps even a foamer-at-the-mouther such as Olbermann might be acceptable to larger audiences. In which case, Jeff + Jeff might hope, MSNBC will go from being a loss-leader--an acceptable waste of money, given the ideological false-flagging he provides--into an actual profit center.
It could happen. But maybe not.
Why? Because eventually, conservatives will all figure out GE double game. Conservatives, God bless 'em, tend to be kneejerk supporters of private property and free enterprise, and so any corporate chieftain gets the benefit of the doubt-at least for a while.
But eventually, conservatives figure it out when a private enterprise is taking their support for granted--and then kicking them in the teeth. And that's just what GE is doing. When GE sucks up to the Left--trying to "greenwash" itself into acceptability in the eyes of, say, Al Gore and "bluewash" itself into the hearts of Democrats--well, GE can only do that if its implicit "base" on the pro-business right is secure.
Only now it's not secure. GE's suck-up-to-the-Left-while-taking-the-Right-for-granted strategy is about to meet its negation, which can be summed up in two words: Mark Levin.
OK, Levin is not quite a household word, but TCG predicts that he is soon to get a lot better known. Specifically, Levin is launching a campaign to get Olbermann suspended or fired. As hot-talking Levin puts it:
Let me tell you, this guy is really the scum of the earth...Hey Olbermann, I said you're the scum of the earth. And you know damn well what I'm talking about. [...]
This is the highest rated guy on MSNBC because he's taken up a radical position which one of his girlfriends wrote me and said he doesn't even believe, but does it, and he does it for ratings, because he knows there are nutjobs out there who will tune him in. But this is over the line. [...]
I'm calling on MSNBC to suspend Keith Olbermann because in the middle of a war, I don't think a phony journalist should be able to use his position to give aid and comfort to the enemy, and worse than that even, to smear the American GI. [...]
"Cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives." That's how you view the uniform? You're a disgrace. Why are on you on MSNBC? I ask General Electric, "What is this man doing on your network?" [...]
I believe in firing his ass! Why have boycotts and censorship? Fire his ass! And yet, I'm compassionate. I said, "At least, suspend him. Let's meet halfway on this." And I'll tell you why. If in World War II, Tokyo Rose were given a format like MSNBC night after night to undermine the American GI, to give aid and comfort to the terrorists, to pander to the worst elements of American society, to become a propagandist for the enemy, it would not have been tolerated. It's not as if Keith Olbermann brings anything to the table. He's a very dumb guy. He's not qualified to be a newscaster. He's not qualified to hold serious opinions, and that's why he relies on the Daily Kos, a Media Matters, leftwing Democrat operatives for his talking points each and every night. But for MSNBC, and NBC, and GE to prop this guy up and give him a soapbox, I'm sorry. He is the anti-soldier. This isn't an academic matter where we're debating some issue of import, but not an issue of life and death, but he is the mouthpiece, the prominent mouthpiece for our enemy. If you're going to call our soldiers cold-blooded killers who kill people to achieve their political objectives, then you're excrement. You're absolute excrement.[...]
Spitting on the American soldier. You think that's a good thing? You think that's entertainment? You think that's great for this country? I don't expect you to suppot the President. Great. But I do expect you to treat the troops with respect That's correct. [...]
How is it that only the liberals can make issues out of things they want to make issues out of when they're offended? Here we have a guy smearing hundreds of thousands of American soldiers, calling them cold-blooded killers who kill people to achieve their political objectives. I mean, what is this? [...]
NBC clings to this bitter, little know-nothing because he gets ratings from the far left in this country. The hate America, commie-left. They tell everybody, "Watch Olbermann, watch Olbermann." And so he plays to them, he panders to them. I see the hair-splitting going on. The fact is, if he were to compare any American to al Qaeda terrorists, it's so over the top. And yet to do it in the context of the United States military. I know what he's talking about. I'm not going to have the spin fly here, I can tell you that. It is so grotesque. And I am demanding that MSNBC say something about this, do something about this because Keith Olbermann is basically Tokyo Rose in a suit.
Phew! Thanks, btw, to Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters for that transcription.
In other words, in this war of words, Olbermann has finally met his match. Cable Gamers know Levin as a veteran of cable news, but now he has a radio show with a pretty good reach--and a great new cause.
Of course, there's no guarantee that Levin will be successful in his effort, but TCG thinks that he will find at least some success, because Olbermann is so over the top, and because it's now becoming clear that Immelt and GE are turncoats. Immelt & Co. use the instinctive support of conservatives as a platform, or stepping stone, to what they really crave--the approval of the Left.
Well, perhaps the two Jeffs can win the Left, if they sell out enough. But in doing so, they will lose the Right, along with fair-minded moderates.
GE has been willing to keep MSNBC around as a loss-leader, but those losses are about to go much higher, threatening to poison the whole of GE.