Home » » Keith Olbermann suspended by MSNBC--but will he be back at all? Here's why Olbermann will NOT come back to MSNBC. Bye, bye, Olby!

Keith Olbermann suspended by MSNBC--but will he be back at all? Here's why Olbermann will NOT come back to MSNBC. Bye, bye, Olby!

Written By mista sense on Friday, November 5, 2010 | 12:43 PM

So Keith Olbermann is suspended, without pay, from MSNBC.   The proximate issue, we are told, is that Olbermann donated money to three Democratic congressional candidates.   But The Cable Gamer thinks that the issue is deeper and more unreconciliable. Indeed, TCG predicts that KO has either been KO'd, or will soon KO himself.  Olbermann will not return to MSNBC.

Why?  Three reasons:

First, TCG figures that bad blood has been boiling between Olbermann and MSNBC management for a long time.  As noted here at TCG many times, Olbermann has been open, even flamboyant, in his determination to show the world that he runs the channel.  Pushing out Dan Abrams, pulling in Rachel Maddow, and generally emasculating MSNBC chief Phil Griffin.  Such tactics have worked well enough for Olbermann so far, but like a gambler on a streak, Olbermann has confused the power of bluff and bravado with real strength.  He might think that he runs MSNBC, but in fact, there are layers of suits above him, reaching all the way to the executive suite at NBC, and then to GE, and then to the shareholders--hedge funds, institutional investors, the electronic herd--who truly run every big company these days.  Those folks have personal feelings, which Olbermann has routinely poked for years.  In addition, the C-suite types don't like to think that they have rabblerousers and troublemakers on the payroll, attracting the ire of Congress (now half-controlled by Republicans), regulators, and so on.   Olby thought he could fight The Man, but The Man will win.  By definition, big companies are bigger than their talent.  NBC, which has been around for 80 years, is plenty big. 

Second, Olbermann himself can probably see the handwriting on the wall, and so probably doesn't mind all that much that he is being pushed out of MSNBC.  As noted here at TCG in the past, Olby has a martyr complex that woudl rival Mel Gibson, and so the idea of sacrificing for his art isn't so bad. Olbermann has had a good run at MSNBC, but now, GE is in the midst of selling NBC-U, parent of MSNBC, to Comcast.  And Comcast is going to bring a new ethos to the company.   Who knows what Comcast careerist Steve Burke, who will replace Jeff Zucker as chief of NBCU, thinks about MSNBC, and Olbermann; the only guarantee is that Burke thinks different.   And so Olby, having rolled boxcars for years at MSNBC, can't expect to keep getting such good rolls of the dice in the future, under the new regime.    Indeed, Olby might even figure that he is enough of a marquee "brand" that he could carry a whole new channel, the way that Howard Stern put Sirius radio, or revive an old channel, the way that Conan O'Brien might seem to do at TBS.   What if, say, Daily Kos wants to start its own network?   Yes, Daily Kos is a blog--to which Olby has been contributing--but in the Converged world, why couldn't Kos do it?  Or maybe Newsweek--angel investor Sidney Harman can't seem to find an editor for his mag, so why not Olbermann?  Instant name ID, and instant buzz.

Third, even if MSNBC isn't determined to get rid of Olbermann, and even if Olbermann isn't determined to be gotten rid of, the practical reality of the next few days will clinch Olby's exit.  In a world of blogs and Twitter, somebody--most likely, Olbermann himself--will say or tweet something that inflames this "dicey" situation.   If Olby couldn't resist tweeting criticism of Jon Stewart, he won't be able to resist tweeting something about his situation.  Or blogging it, or texting it, or otherwise ruminating it.  And so in this high-stakes faceoff, someone will make a move that blows this situation up, and so makes it impossible, face-saving-wise, for Olbermann and MSNBC/GE/Comcast to resolve this situation amicably.   This is a volatile situation, and nobody is more volatile than Olby.

So you read it here first, folks--Keith Olbermann will not be back at MSNBC.

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