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Keith Olbermann Fired By MSBNC Last Night: Blame Comcast's Merger With NBC-Universal


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Keith Olbermann's 8-year career with MSNBC came to an abrupt end last night when he was fired by MSNBC. Olbermann's show, "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" was the highest-rated show on MSBNC and one of the most succesfull political shows in the history of television, yet he was fired abruptly. From a business standpoint this makes little sense. And, from a broadcasting perspective it makes no sense. Let's dig deeper shall we.

It's funny that the FCC approved Comcast's merger with NBC-Universal this week. And, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is a staunch Republican supporter having co-hosted the 2000 Republican Convention. A report is out that Comcast wanted to "tinker" with the MSNBC format for months. Here's my take on this. Brian Roberts let his politics get in the way of his decision-making. Keith Olbermann is a very strong critic of Republicans and that just wasn't going to fly. Olbermann is far from objective when it comes to his arguments in favor of Democrats, while opposing Republicans. However, the same goes for any other political talk show. According to Forbes, the timing of Comcast's merger and Keith Olbermann's firing seems pretty suspect.

It's a shame Brian Roberts doesn't have the same passion for producing winning sports teams. Comcast owns both the Sixers and the Flyers. If that were the case, then the Sixers would have won a championship within the past 25 years as opposed to being reduced to a low-rent franchise. Would many people really care if the Sixers were sold and moved to Baltimore? They are as irrelevant as Lyndon Larouche. And, maybe the Flyers would have won two or three titles since the Lindros-era instead of settling for just "being in the mix" every year. Hmmm, sounds like another team in this town called the Eagles. Maybe Roberts should buy out Jeffrey Lurie as well. 

Every dog gets it's day though. Olbermann's non-compete clause will end at some point and he'll return to TV and get his shot once again. The danger with allowing huge corporations such as Comcast to take large media companies over is the "S" word; silence. The same goes for the other side of the fence. Let's suppose Brian Roberts was a staunch Democrat and Comcast purchased Fox News and they wanted to "tinker" with that format. It would be equally disgusting.

Keith Olbermann signed off from Countdown in eloquent fashion last night. For his classy sign-off speech, check out the video below.


Sidney Lumet's masterpiece "Network" was a groundbreaking film in 1976 and timeless. If you haven't seen the film, check it out. The message in that film mirrors what we have seen go down with NBC-Universal this week. And, Keith Olbermann is the first casualty of the merger.

Free speech was punched in the face, kicked in the groin, and stomped on the ground last night.You can thank Comcast for that. How this benefits the consumer is beyond me. If anything it just further proves that mega-deals involving large media companies are a terrible idea and not in the best interests of the American people.

Contact Dennis Bakay at dbakay@philly2philly.com