Countdown Update

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

In case you weren’t one of the 300,000 to sign the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s petition, (I wasn’t, either) you may be surprised to know that Keith Olbermann will be back on MSNBC Tuesday night, after a two-night suspension without pay. His sin was contributing just before the Nov. 2 election to three beleaguered Democratic candidates — not that anyone doubted his political party preference, but that he didn’t clear it with the NBC brass first, as did morning show host Joe Scarborough and “political analyst” Pat Buchanan, who always makes me feel like I’ve got something stuck-to-the-bottom-of-my-shoe.

Among people who stood up for Keith was VT’s Senator Bernie Sanders, the man who, more than any other living American, gives socialism a good name. I hope Bernie didn’t play the First Amendment card.  If he did, I don’t want to know about it.  That argument, more than anything in this whole mess — that NBC violated Keith’s right to free speech by punishing him for making campaign contributions — disturbs me. This weekend I saw people who wailed and waved fists over Citizens United and the obscenity that was The Buying of the Congress that resulted, arguing that, what? That money is speech after all?

I’m looking forward to watching Keith again Tuesday night. But if I had been NBC I’d have sat him down a while longer, maybe a week.  This way it looks a bit like in the war between ratings and journalistic ethics, ratings won. No surprise here; they win every day of the week at Fox.

Monday night Olbermann issued an apology of sorts — to his viewers, not so much to his bosses. It’s pure Olbermann.  If you can’t see it on the NYTimes link, try this one.

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