Olbermann: There are execs at NBC "who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all"

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Keith Olbermann, appearing on C-SPAN, said: "There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all. ... There are people who I work for who would prefer, who would sleep much easier at night if this never happened. On the other hand, if they look at my ratings and my ratings are improved and there is criticism of the president of the United States, they're happy."

During a March 12 interview with C-SPAN president and chief executive officer Brian Lamb, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann said: "There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE [General Electric Co., NBC's parent corporation], the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all. ... There are people who I work for who would prefer, who would sleep much easier at night if this never happened." He added, "On the other hand, if they look at my ratings and my ratings are improved and there is criticism of the president of the United States, they're happy."

Olbermann also discussed his relationship to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and claimed: "O'Reilly's agent calls the head of NBC week after week saying, you have got to get Olbermann to stop" criticizing O'Reilly.

From Olbermann's interview with Lamb, aired on the March 12 edition of C-SPAN's Q&A:

LAMB: We have got some other quotes about Fox from you: "Fortunately for the free world, News Corp.," which owns FOX, "is very aggressive but ultimately not very bright."

OLBERMANN: Yes, they are somewhat self-destructive. And that's the best hope for mankind, relative to them. In other words, you know, Bill O'Reilly, who has an audience at 8 o'clock [p.m. ET] that even with recent programming gains on the part of my show, the total audience that he has is still, what, six, seven times what we are doing. Even -- as Fox and News Corp. put it, the "money demo," the 25- to 54-year-old news viewers who don't watch news, even there they are still about double what we are doing.

When I attack Bill O'Reilly or criticize him for something that he said on the air, some ludicrous suggestion like, you know, we should let Al Qaeda go in and blow up San Francisco because he doesn't like San Francisco, I mean, just lunatic things, if I punch upwards at Fox News, the clever response, the cynical and brilliant response is to just ignore. Like, well, why do we have to worry, they have one-seventh of our audience? They attack. Bill O'Reilly's agent calls the head of NBC week after week saying, you have got to get Olbermann to stop this, as if for some reason there are rules here. We have -- these are the people who have suspended the rules, and they want the referee to step in protect them against my little pinky.

LAMB: More quotes. This is about Rupert Murdoch: "His covey of flying monkeys do something journalistically atrocious every hour of the day."

OLBERMANN: Yeah. I think that's probably true. I think -- well, sometimes they miss. They are sometimes -- there are a few hours in a row where there might not be a flying monkey appearing, devastating society.

LAMB: Doesn't this work for both of you?

OLBERMANN: I don't think so. I haven't met a lot of flying monkeys at NBC. I have met people who -- and by the way, this is the great freedom and the great protection of American broadcasting, commercial broadcasting -- we made a mistake in the '20s. We let broadcasting in this country develop with commercial broadcasting taking the lead and all other kinds of information on radio or television secondary or tertiary. But the protection of money at the center of everything, including news to the degree that it is now, is that as long as you make the money, they don't care what it is you put on the air.

They don't care. There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all.

Anybody who knew anything about American history and stepped out at any point in American history and got an assessment of this presidential administration would say, "Yeah, I don't know how much they need to be criticized, but they need to be criticized to some degree."

There are people who I work for who would prefer, who would sleep much easier at night if this never happened. On the other hand, if they look at my ratings and my ratings are improved and there is criticism of the president of the United States, they're happy.

If my ratings went up because there was no criticism of the president of the United States, they'd be happy.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
Network/Outlet
C-SPAN
Person
Keith Olbermann
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