Sunday, November 21, 2010

MSNBC's UNWORKABLE RULE (or Why It is Silly to Sanction Scarborough)

MSNBC is trying to be impartial by suspending their morning headliner Joe Scarborough. Morning Joe gave a few dollars to candidates he supports. Joe's contributions were modest. Scarborough didn't do anything illegal. Scarborough didn't do anything unethical. Scarborough did the responsible thing, he put his money where his mouth is. It isn't important that Joe Scarborough gave modestly or that Keith Olbermann, whom MSNBC also suspended, gave larger amounts to those he supports. MSNBC is owned by General Electric and the ruling junta at General Electric/MSNBC is wrong to suspend good folks like Scarborough and Olbermann.

MSNBC wants to maintain high standards, they want to prevent their organization from spiraling out of control and becoming anything like the propaganda company masquerading as a journalism company, FOX News. Over at FOX News there are no firewalls separating fact from fiction, influence from arrogance, or propriety from wholesale manure spreading. MSNBC is right to avoid becoming anything like the delusional, fantasy based, and truth distorting journalistic circus which is FOX News. Mind you, I am not talking about the local affiliates bearing the FOX moniker, those stations are well run. I am talking about the "it would be funny if weren't true" cable operation called FOX News.

MSNBC should not have veto power over their on-air talent when it comes to their campaign donations. MSNBC has every right to maintain high standards when it comes to the appearance of impropriety. Their veto power doesn't get them where they want to go. If MSNBC says to Joe go ahead and make those contributions but tells Keith no you can't, then MSNBC has lost the prize they sought. In their earnest attempt to be impartial they lost their balance.

There's no confusion about Joe Scarborough or his conservative political leanings. You'd have to be deaf and blind not to figure out that Olbermann veers to the left in his civic thinking. Yet neither Scarborough, Olbermann, or anyone else at MSNBC have turned their shows into on-going infomercials for persons aspiring to political offices.

If the ruling junta at General Electric/MSNBC wants to preserve the appearance of propriety, then they can't be seen to tell Scarborough and Olbermann to whom they can or cannot give legal campaign contributions. MSNBC can adopt a rigid standard saying that none of their hosts or anchors or news personnel can make campaign contributions. The cost of being a star at MSNBC should be the strict adherence to the highest standards of journalism, not forbearance of a legal right.

The ruling junta at General Electric/MSNBC needs to extricate themselves from their self imposed field of quicksand. They have first rate folks working for them who do not look anything like propagandists spiraling out of control. MSNBC can start with trust. Trust the stars at MSNBC to be good at their jobs and behave like adults, something their people are already doing.

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