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Ace Cable Gamer Brian Stelter scoops in The New York Times that Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews have been demoted:
MSNBC tried a bold experiment this year by putting two politically incendiary hosts, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, in the anchor chair to lead the cable news channel's coverage of the election.
That experiment appears to be over.
After months of accusations of political bias and simmering animosity between MSNBC and its parent network NBC, the channel decided over the weekend that the NBC News correspondent and MSNBC host David Gregory would anchor news coverage of the coming debates and election night. Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews will remain as analysts during the coverage.
Stelter presents this as an NBC-driven decision, overseen by MSNBC chief Phil Griffin, NBC News chief Steve Capus, and NBC overall prexy Jeff Zucker. Stelter has certainly done his reporting:
In interviews, 10 current and former staff members said that long-simmering tensions between MSNBC and NBC reached a boiling point during the conventions. "MSNBC is behaving like a heroin addict," one senior staff member observed. "They're living from fix to fix and swearing they'll go into rehab the next week."
And here's some more:
"They have banked the entirety of the network on Keith Olbermann," one employee said.
Yikes! Tell that to some GE exec trying to sell electrical equipment somewhere: Your cable-news subsidiary is dominated by someone who thinks that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is a dangerous right-winger, and also writes for Daily Kos--you know, the wackoes who claimed, for example, that Sarah Palin was Trig Palin's grandmother, not mother.
And so this juice, too, from Stelter:
Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams, the past and present anchors of "NBC Nightly News," have told friends and colleagues that they are finding it tougher and tougher to defend the cable arm of the news division, even while they anchored daytime hours of convention coverage on MSNBC and contributed commentary each evening.
A little liberal bias is par for the MSM course, but MSNBC overdid it, casting its ideological shadow over NBC and CNBC, and making the issue of bias a concern for the general public, not just a few conservative media watchdogs. And that's he point where pension-fund managers, and other fiduciary types, get nervous about a company making enemies and perhaps generating boycotts.
Indeed, The Cable Gamer has it on good Wall Street authority that the MSNBC crisis goes higher than NBC. Zucker's boss, GE CEO Jeff Immelt, has become increasingly concerned about the MSNBC soap opera.
And well he should, since it's GE that's taking the hit; the stock price, which closed at $27.88 on Friday, got no lasting bounce from the Olympics; it is now basically back where it was in early August before its slight run-up during the Beijing games.
Meanwhile, here's a TCG prediction: Olbermann will not take this lying down. Yes, MSNBC pays him $4 million a year, but KO is a hothead. TCG predicts that he will quit, or arrange to get fired.
When all this ends, Immelt will be relieved to be rid of Olbermann. Of course, TCG continues to think that GE will be happy to be rid of NBC altogether.
Cross-posted from The Cable Game.