MSNBC Kneecaps Olbermann To Fake NeutralityIt was unthinkable that MSNBC could come out of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions without a major, public shakeup of its political news team. The incessant fighting between the cable network's most opinionated anchors — Keith Olbermann, Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews — marred the chance to retain all those new young viewers Olbermann has attracted over the past year or two. But now that the other shoe has dropped, with the anchor team of Olbermann and Matthews being replaced by comparatively neutral White House correspondent David Gregory, it would be a mistake to think MSNBC has undergone some sort of deep existential crisis that will pull it back from the brink of becoming the Fox News Channel of the left. The network's ratings growth, driven by Olbermann, has been too good and too long coming, and the lefty anchor (according to the Times) is about to re-up his plush contract, which in any case has three of four yeas left on it. And MSNBC will have done plenty if it simply gets its big-name blowhards acting at a high school level of maturity rather than yelling at one another like a bunch of kindergartners. Network executives appear to appreciate this! From the Times:

In interviews, 10 current and former staff members said that long-simmering tensions between MSNBC and NBC reached a boiling point during the conventions. “MSNBC is behaving like a heroin addict,” one senior staff member observed. “They’re living from fix to fix and swearing they’ll go into rehab the next week.”

...According to three staff members, Jeff Zucker, chief executive of NBC Universal, and Steve Capus, president of NBC News, considered flying to the Republican convention in Minnesota last week to address the lingering tensions.

Olbermann, by the way, told the Washington Post he never really wanted to be an anchor in the first place:

"Phil and I have debated this set-up since late winter/early spring (with me saying, 'Are you sure this flies?' and him saying, 'Yes, but let's judge it event by event') and I think we both reached the same point during the RNC," Olbermann said by e-mail.

[Times, Washington Post]