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MSNBC bumps Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews amid charges of bias

NEW YORK — MSNBC executives are yanking Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, the cable news network’s most prominent on-air personalities, out of their anchor chairs for the remainder of the 2008 presidential election.

During news coverage of the debates and election night, Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory will replace the two voluble hosts, who have come to represent MSNBC’s embrace of opinion-laced coverage. The network's promotion of the outspoken commentators has drawn sharp criticism even as it has helped swell the audience.

The move comes after network executives spent months vehemently defending the dual roles being played by MSNBC’s prime-time hosts, who serve up unstinting commentary when they’re not anchoring election coverage.

But complaints about MSNBC’s approach have been mounting as election day nears, leaving NBC News vulnerable to arguments that the news division has been tainted by the cable network’s ideological slant.

Tom Brokaw, the network’s emeritus anchor who regularly offers analysis on MSNBC, was forced to defend its coverage at a panel discussion about the media at the Democratic convention, arguing that Olbermann and Matthews were “not the only voices” on the air.

The tension between the news division’s traditionally dispassionate role and MSNBC’s opinionated tone has taken its toll internally. During the Democratic convention, several of the network’s anchors quarreled on the air. A week later, Republican delegates in St. Paul, Minn., began a derisive chant of “NBC! NBC!” when Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice presidential nominee, decried the media’s coverage during her speech.

The disparagement of the cable channel persuaded network executives this weekend to make a change, the New York Times reported today.

Olbermann and Matthews will continue to serve as on-air analysts during MSNBC’s coverage of the upcoming debates and on election night.

-- Matea Gold

Comments () | Archives (37)

Thank you for listening to the people. We are an intelligent group and would like the facts not the opinion of a television celebrity. Please bring journalism back!! Make the reporters and anchors report as responsible and credible journalists. Report the facts and let us draw our own conclusions.

It is about time. How any network could have these partisan hacks as news people and think people would take them seriously is beyond me. I have no problem with them as political commentators but trying to pass themselves off as news people was sickening.

I dont get it, FOX network has been doing the same thing for 8 years and it is perfectly ok, why the double standard here amongst the executives at MSNBC If it is ok for FOX it should be ok on the other side of the arguement.

What? Unbelievable. What has happened to free speech in this country? These guys are some, if not the best voices we have for the democratic ideals and principles that underlie this nation. What slap in the face of anyone who values free speech in our society. It looks like Big Brother and the Republican party have got their way again. Do we all have to watch the Fox propaganda machine?
This news make me very angry.


While Chris Mathews really "ANNOYED" me over Hillary Clinton, I think that yanking him and Kieth Oberman, who I watch with anicipation for his poetry commentary is the STUPIDIST move NBC could make.

they offer perfect balance to the air waves out there with such entities as Billo the clown, and Rush Limbough.

I guess the Republican party has definately bought NBC, the NAZI tactics of squashing the voice of any decenting opinions. Too bad they can't take the heat.

While they're at it, maybe they should pull Kathie Lee and Hoyda for their blatent BIAS of Palin on this mornings today show. The love fest shown by Hoda was hiting a gag reflex.

On election night, there will be about eight networks offering wall-to-wall coverage, including MSNBC's big sister NBC. Whatever one thinks of Olbermann and Matthews, they are a brand, and a reason to watch if that's your cup of tea. David Gregory? They must be kidding. Competent, but not a star.

With so many choices available to viewers, who cares if Keith and Chris offer a point of view?

This is what happens when a defense contractor (GE) owns a news division.

Matthews is conservative and Olbermann is liberal. Sounds balanced to me..

We liked Keith and Chris! That's the only reason we were watching MSNBC!

Somehow it's okay for Bill O'Reilly but not Chris Matthews? Why is a station with a conservative bias okay but not one with a liberal bias? Just because the Republicans complain louder?

I guess we'll be going back to PBS and C-SPAN now.

It's about time.

Maybe there is some justice?

Matthews and Olbermann have seriously damaged the reputations of top people like Brokaw and Williams. i applaud NBC

I have become a fan of MSNBC because of the voiced views of Keith Olbermann and others. The other two "news channels" are very biased to the right with the style and direction of the questions of their coverage. We expect it from FOX but since Bernie Shaw has left and after Fox took the lead as a news channel Msnbc was the last netwark to be trule 'fair and balanced' The complaints are a organized hit scripted by the Rush Bibbos and others. Just listen to the tone of Cnn and Fox reporters. They permit the neocons to rant on and on even over the replys given by any who might be expressing their opinion. This shout down of any who disagree with them is an old neocon tactic since the R Regan term. This also takes away the lie that the press is leftwing and libiral. Money is the main trait of the GOP and these big news organizations are lead and owned by big money. To hold the views given by these reporters is the next step to the stealing of this next and very important election. A free press? I dont think of.

i am a democrat, tried and true, and have been my whole life. this season i was for hillary. prior to their attacks on hillary, i thought the pomposity of msnb's hosts to be getting out of hand. the rest is history and i'm glad something has been done. has nbc news suffered credibility? i say yes because i stopped watching them as well...it's the trickle down or up effect. i say, go david gregory, i believe him to be a man of ethics and integrity (and lots of humor)...signed libby democrat

I can't believe you caved in !! Get some steel in your spine and do your duty as the free press.
The coverage was not biased. Bias is when you allow the GOP to cow you and continue to get their "message" out unchallenged.

I am sad that Keith and Chris want be in their chairs doing the elections

Finally! These two should never have been given the position as anchors. They abandoned all objectivity. As a result, I abandoned MSNBC. Good luck to Gregory.

MSNBC should support Mr Olbermann and Mr Matthews. Are they so afraid of the Republican Party's accusations, that they would remove the two best anchormen that they have on their network. Fox (and it is very bias) has not removed any of its staff. What a shame.

I will not be watching and I will spread the word to all of my family and friends about this unfair political move by the MSNBC executives.

I am apalled by this, just when I felt I had a voice in this ultra conservative, ultra right wing Southern California area, you pull the guys that gave me hope. I refuse to listen to those Bozos at FOX still.

MSNBC has displayed a pattern of silencing critics of the GOP. On the eve of the Iraq war, they fired Phil Donahue, the only guy on TV allowing Bush's WMD claims to be debated.

Clearly that was a huge mistake.

Then, as now, MSNBC is caving to right wing pressure groups and silencing anyone who dares to question the Republican Party.

It's Soviet-style political censorship, and it's a sad commentary on how low our country has been brought by the Bush regime.

I will not be tuning into MSNBC again.

So which unbiased Anchor is FOX News going to serve up for election coverage? Hanity? Hume? O'Really?

That's right, pull anyone who questions the Republican lies, smoke and mirrors, or does anything but blather on about irrelevancies. Why not hire Rove to replace them? Well, there's still Jon Stewart, who paints a for more rational and balanced picture of the mess that is electoral politics in this country than cable or network news "reporters."

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