Pros and Cons of Olbermann and Matthews Departures
It's being reported all over that Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews will no longer be anchoring special election coverage on MSNBC. In terms of what's ahead in this political season, this means we won't see them anchoring election night or debate coverage. They will both continue in their Countdown and Hardball shows.
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I've criticized Olbermann's tirades on everything from 24 to Hillary Clinton and Bill O'Reilly. Matthews is not as extreme, but he had problems talking about Hillary Clinton, too - and I noticed that as an Obama supporter. In the Democratic and Republican convention coverage, Olbermann dissed Joe Scarborough on the air, and Matthews and Pat Buchanan went at it tooth and nail.
The last two incidents get at why I feel more than one way about MSNBC's change of anchors. I agree politically with everything Olbermann said to Scarborough, and everything Matthews said to Buchanan. Further, a leftist tilt at MSNBC balances the rightest tilt at Fox News, which is certainly not "balanced" on its own.
In the end, I guess MSNBC did the right thing, though. There is a distinction between an anchor and a commentator, one which Fox News respects by not putting its commentators - such O'Reilly, Hannity, and Colmes - in the anchor chair. Our politics is indeed better served when we can get some semblance of objectivity in our anchors and let the commentators have at it.
But if this signals a retreat by MSNBC from the Democratic leanings of its commentators, I'll be sure to complain loudly about that, too.