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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)

fox can be RIGHT but msnbc has to be neutral? What the hell is that? For what my little viewership is worth, I just may be tuning out. Don't think I can continue to support such a cowardly network.

MSNBC can't have it both ways. The fact is that there's precious little "news" to cover on any day, even a convention day. But they want to stay on the air 24/7 for advertisers. So why not label an hour "news" and let the interesting folks back for the other 23 hours?

Matthews is pretty conservative. Remember his gushing over President Bush (jr) in the flight suit? How he gushed over Tom Delay in his first post-resignation interview? How he called on Hillary to give antii-abortion Democrats "a ride home"? Matthews is not a liberal.

I am so disappointed in NBC. Republicans cry and you react. Actually they have been crying over anythiuing that does not go their way. I will no longer watch MSNBC. Gregory is ok but not enough backbone . Sometimes he seem too far to the right. You have really made a big mistake in removing Olberman and Matthews, they made listening to the republicans bearable. I don't hear of CNN removing Campbell Brown because the republicans cried about her.
Too bad NBC, you've made a boo boo and lost a fan.

I am glad NBC took some kind of of stance, because this bias is so outrageous.
It is a sad commentary on the current state of U.S. journalism. Something is confusing though.
Why are Keith Oberman and Chris Matthews who are so very openly biased,
still allowed to cover the debates and election night ?

Jim Kerr
Houston, Texas

Are you kidding me??? Are yoiu kidding me???? MSNBC has caved into the pressure by the GOP and other right wing jerks.. For crying out loud what are FOX and CNN doing??? How about Sean Hannity who comes up with an emasculated Alan Colmes. Does Glenn Beck on CNN for example show 'bias'..... Duh!!! just goes to prove that there is no such thing as a 'liberal media' in this country.

Anyone who thinks that MSNBC is remotely non-partisan is either smoking some really good bud or is completely delusional. Dumping Olbermann and Matthews is a breath of fresh air for the network, but what they really need is a Cat 5 hurricane to clear the air around there. MSNBC is the DNC's pet network. Maybe the screams have finally become loud enough for the management to sit up and take notice. They're a bit late, though. Nobody but left wing liberals bother to tune them in anymore.


Does this mean that if Democrats chant FOX, they will get their opinionated windbags out of there as well? Hume, Hannity, O'really, Dick Morris, to name but a few. Guess not, Fox doesn't care if the left or center complain. Too bad NBC allowed the noise of the complainers to drown out my lefty voices at MSNBC. Where do we go now?

Well, if the MSNBC execs truly want objective journalism, then they should also sanction the GOP lemmings on the payroll, such as Joe Scarborough, Mika Briezenski and Pat Buchanan. Anytime someone says anything positive about Democrats on Joe's show, any one of the aforementioned "objective journalists" proceed to interrupt, talk over or just plain ignore the speaker until they can espouse their drivel about the GOP.

Bill M.
Clarksville, IN

I am thoroughly disturbed about this decision. When we a being swamped with dimwits like Sean Hannity and nitwits like Bill O'Rielly, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews provides some sense of intelligence and independent thinking in cable news. It is unfortune the the public is like a school of fish, as it allows its opinions to be shaped by the distortions aired on FOX NEWS. When you people at msnbc make your change, you will lose many inteligent viewers.

Who cares if MSNBC droppred Olbermann and Matthews. NOBODY watches MSNBC anyway. Their ratings have been down for some time now compared to FOX NEWS.
Maybe now that their left wing bias, especially Oberman is gone, their ratings will go up and be more 'Fair and Balanced".
Besides, FOX NEWS has undoubtedley, the hottest looking female anchors compared to any other news channel by far. They know what they are doing over there at FOX NEWS!

I like to hear all sides of the political landscape. We have not only lost the voice ot "The Great" Tim Russet we are about to lose another side of the debate. There must be two sides to every story in order to make clear and informed decisions. It is with a heavy heart that I received this news of Chris Matthews and Keith Oberman. I may not agree with them or other news anchors on every issue, but I want to be able to decide for myself.

I can't believe that NBC news would allow such bias opinions. If you are going to attack one side all the time and just pick on the Repbulicans I don't need to watch you. I prefer CNN. They at least give equal time to both sides.

Thank you! Now perhaps we can watch MSNBC for the news without having to listen to the HATE messages from Olberman and Matthews. I was not aware that MSNBC was removing Olberman and Matthews until tonight, Oct 21. I got online to complain after hearing Olberman spew nothing less than HATRED night after night and I've had enough. It's not NEWS it's his biased opinion and that's not what we look for when tuning in for the news. Fox is equally as biased but at least they are not full of hate. It's about time MSNBC. I was planning on NOT tuning in again but now, I'll give it another chance.

This story must have been a hoax. Now only are these guys NOT off the air, I've been watching Keith Olbermann nightly plus the delicious addition of Rachel Maddow. Can't go to bed without my "McCain in the Membrane," "Worst Person in the World" and Rachel's "Talk Me Down."

Thank God this was not true.

Is tihis Keith oberman. Is he really that stupid. He hs caled Pres. Bush an idiloint for ever- does he not
look int he mirror. He needs a wake up call and he needs to blame someone else than George

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