Olbermann's New and Conflicting Statements Fan Flames of GE-MSNBC-Fox Controversy

In my morning post on the MSNBC-Fox-GE controversy, I noted that all we learned last night is that Keith Olbermann said he wasn't "party to any deal" -- something the New York Times reported in its original story. To my mind, whether Olbermann was or was not a party to a deal is far less important than the behavior of General Electric and MSNBC executives. Nonetheless, because this is such a destructive and precedent-setting example of corporate manipulation of news content, it's important to check out these new posts by Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher after Olbermann just released a statement today.

It seems Olbermann is now saying two mutually exclusive things: Last night, he said he was not part of any deal, but today he tells Glenn that everything Glenn has reported is completely accurate. And since Glenn has reported exactly the opposite -- that, in fact, Olbermann was part of some sort of deal -- there doesn't seem to be a way for both of Olbermann's statements to be true.

So, yes, as Jane says, "There will be a cloud over Olbermann's credibility until he clarifies what really happened."

ADDENDUM: Some readers may believe this story is not important -- they may believe that we should just forget about this whole sordid affair simply because Olbermann does great work on behalf of progressive causes like ending the war in Iraq and enacting a universal health care system. My response is simple: We can all agree on the quality of Olbermann's work, while disagreeing on the significance of this particular story -- and additionally, there's no contradiction in simultaneously believing that Olbermann does great work and that this is an important story. Many of us -- and especially many of us working in independent media -- believe that corporate control of the media is a crucial issue that tends to distort and impact all other issues (and especially when it involves as huge and as economically significant company as General Electric).

As an MSNBC and Olbermann fan, I'm bummed to see Olbermann caught up in this situation -- but I'm not surprised. The problem of corporate control of the media is so big and powerful, there's no way Olbermann could avoid it, despite his vehement protests to the contrary last night. Indeed, his new statement today seems to confirm that very reality.

And so I'll just conclude by saying this: You may like Keith Olbermann (as I do), but if your love of Keith Olbermann makes you refuse to defend/demand respect for independent journalism, then you ought to consider how fucked up your value system really is. Loyalty to an individual over loyalty to principles is the definition of cultism. MSNBC partisans insisting that we should ignore General Electric's manipulation of the news out of deference to Keith Olbermann's supposedly infallible awesomeness are at best being intellectually dishonest, and at worst endorsing in precisely the kind of propagandistic pro-censorship sycophancy that is at the heart of this scandal.