Keith Olbermann may have been pushed out of his gig anchoring MSNBC's election coverage, but the Countdown host actually made out pretty well, with the cable news network widely reported to be in the process of extending his contract. Far sadder is the case of Olbermann's fellow shouting head Chris Matthews, also ejected from the election team over his on-air feuds. Matthews' contract is up in 2009, two years sooner than Olbermann's, and yet no one is talking about buttering him up! That's probably because lantern-jawed Olbermann, by far the more overtly partisan of the two, has done more to gin up ratings. But apparently it's also because parent company GE's shareholders — that is, people primarily concerned with making money off a sprawling multinational corporation and with no expertise in running media operations — were unhappy with the network's convention coverage. Report the MSNBC haters at the Post:
One knowledgeable source told us: "Shareholders were calling up NBC and GE - a lot, maybe thousands. They were saying, 'What the [bleep] is wrong with these guys?' . . . Chris Matthews just got stuck in the middle of it all."
Supposedly GE chairman Jeff Immelt got involved, presumably in the decision to replace Olbermann and Matthews with David Gregory. NBC denies this, but Immelt personally decided to let go of shock jock/bigot Don Imus that last time Imus acted like a racist tool on NBC's dime, so maybe there's some truth in the idea.
There's an alternate theory: Olbermann and Matthews were pushed aside simply because their squabbling was an obvious mess, but NBC chief Jeff Zucker invented the story about shareholder pressure to link the name of Jeff Immelt — rather than his own — to the MSNBC mess.
The Post never comes out and says Matthews is on his way out at MSNBC, but one has to wonder about his future there, and about what his next move might be. CNN? ABC? Start an angry ex-anchors network with Dan Rather? Beg a slot on Ana Marie Cox's YouTube thing? Anything is possible!