FAIR Media Advisory: Keith Olbermann’s Departure from MSNBC Shows Limits of Corporate Media Liberalism

Whether the abrupt termination of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann’s contract on January 21 was connected to Olbermann’s left-of-center politics or the recent purchase of NBC by Comcast from General Electric, the host’s departure provides an opportunity to reflect on the bigger picture.

MSNBC’s current liberal identity is generally attributed to Olbermann, whose success offered compelling evidence that a left-of-center TV host could find a sizable audience. Olbermann’s willingness to criticize prominent Republican leaders and right-wing commentators like Fox’s Bill O’Reilly was virtually unknown in corporate television. And the show did more than that for progressive causes; for instance, as the Nation’s Jeremy Scahill noted on Twitter (1/21/11), Olbermann’s program regularly reported on the scandals associated with the Blackwater mercenary company.

Olbermann was not, however, the first avowedly liberal cable host.

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