Friday, November 5, 2010

The Ultimate Double Standard

So . . . Rupert Murdock donates $1.25 million of corporate money to Republican candidates and organizations—which, for a publicly traded company, is against the law. The consequence? Tch-tch-tch from a few mainstream media pundits.

Keith Olbermann, as an individual, donates the maximum individual contribution—$2,400—to three specific Democratic candidates. The consequence? Indefinite suspension without pay.

Will Fox News jump to his defense, as they did for Juan Williams (who immediately got a $1 million contract)?

Stay tuned.


The Tarquin said...

Apples, meet oranges.

Rupert Murdoch gave his own money to a variety of Republican causes and organizations. He broke no laws and no contracts to which he was a party.

Keith Olbermann violated the terms of his employment. His employer chose to terminate his employment. This makes it a purely contractual dispute between himself and his (now former) employer.

That being said, I think Murdoch's a snake and Olbermann a partisan torch-thrower. No one at this point should be at all surprised by their revealed political preferences.

I do think, however, that we need to get over this ridiculous idea that journalists are somehow paragons of impartiality. They aren't. And that's okay. Journalistic partiality has been a fact of life for as long as there have been journalists and we've managed alright so far.

I mean, hell, if H. L. Mencken had been required to tell "both sides" of the issue, we'd still have Sedition, Censorship, and Prohibition...

Idna said...

I think maybe NBC found an excuse to get rid of Keith boy because he was a total embarrassment to the network. Much as NPR used Juan's "politically incorrect" (honest) statement as an excuse to can him.

But in the final analysis,CJ, this whole thing is between Olbermann and an NBC policy. Nothing to do with FOX News. To call for Fox to "jump to his defense" is just silly.

Six said...

What Tarquin said.

Citizen Jane said...

Good point, Tarquin. The media being composed of people, there's really no such thing as complete impartiality. The best we--or they--can do is try to be as aware and honest as we can about our own biases.

So if Fox News advertised itself as being "Unfair and Unbalanced," I'd have no quarrel with them.

Idna said...

Really,no more time needs to be spent on this subject, but ...

Something that was not mentioned by anyone is that Comcast is buying NBC Universal from GE. Some people have already been axed before the takeover (late this year or early next) most notably, CEO Jeff Zucker.

So it stands to reason that Comcast will want certain NBC people replaced. Could it be that this was an easy way to get rid of Olbermann, who is a far cry from a professional news reporter (more like an angry, nasty, biased buffoon?)

MSNBC has low ratings, so if anything, it could all boil down to a business decision based on dollars and cents.

Citizen Jane said...

Hi, Idna,

I agree that this story has probably already gotten more attention than it deserves. (Why are these kinds of one-off human interest stories so irresistible?)

I also agree that the sale of the network may well have something to do with this little dust-up--the new bosses flexing their muscles to let the talent know who's in charge. (I wondered about that myself.) And my hunch is that in person, Mr. Olbermann's most endearing characteristics are not tact and humility.

It's worth noting, however, that the man is no lightweight in terms of influence. With 1.1 million nightly viewers, he's not doing too badly. Beck still has more viewers (speaking of angry, nasty, biased buffoons). However, Beck's audience has been steadily decreasing--down 28% since this time last year: