Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews will no longer anchor MSNBC’s coverage of major political events, but will instead provide analysis for the network’s David Gregory, who will sit in the anchor’s chair. The network was under pressure, both internal and external, to rein in its two leading men, whose politics are well known. Olbermann himself initiated the move.
In May, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in an interview that during live events Olbermann and Matthews “put on different hats. I think the audience gets it. . . . I see zero problem.”
But NBC News journalists, who often appear on the cable channel, did see a problem, arguing behind the scenes that MSNBC’s move to the left—which includes a new show, debuting tonight [Monday], for Air America radio host Rachel Maddow—was tarnishing their reputation for fairness. Tom Brokaw, the interim host of “Meet the Press,” said that at times Olbermann and Matthews went too far.
Olbermann and Matthews will remain as analysts during major political events, and officials at both networks, who declined to be identified discussing personnel moves, said Olbermann had initiated the discussions to clarify his role. They said Olbermann’s influence at MSNBC would in no way be diminished and that the shift would enable him and Matthews to offer more candid analysis during live coverage. Olbermann confirmed [Sunday] he had initiated the discussions.
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