The Secret, Shameless Sleaze Of MSNBC's Richard Wolffe

Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald posted a scathing column about the armistice between GE and News Corp meant to end Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann's fueding. It's a chilling read, and brings in a tangentially related player: Richard Wolffe.

To summarize: Greenwald goes over the New York Times' revelation of a Charlie Rose-officiated summit between News Corp and GE chiefs that ended the battle between their respective professional blowhards, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. The battle embarrassed their corporate parents, and that's why the beef was squashed. He notes that the Times' Brian Stelter, who penned the piece, missed the big picture in all of this: that we now shamelessly live in an age where corporations can control their news divisions simply by getting a few guys in a room, and ordering them to stop fighting. Which is absolutely true, but we already knew that. He's right, however, in its absolute shamelessness. Even Charlie Rose, who brought the corporate titans together, is dirty. Even better, Greenwald pulls from an old interview of Charlie Rose's. In conversation with reporter and columnist Amy Goodman, Rose noted:

I promise you, CBS News and ABC News and NBC News are not influenced by the corporations that may own those companies. Since I know one of them very well and worked for one of them.

Which is great, coming from the guy who just moderated a meeting of two corporate giants who need to reign in their news networks.

But when not pointing out the long-kvetched, now manifest complaints of anarchists everywhere, he gets to something even more insidious: former Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe's guest stint on MSNBC, filling in for Keith Olbermann. Wolffe is noted as a "political analyst" when he appears on MSNBC. Which is funny, because his day job is for a corporate strategies firm run by the former Bush White House Comm Director Dan Bartlett:

Wolffe left Newsweek last March in order to join "Public Strategies, Inc.," the corporate communications firm run by (Bartlett), its President and CEO...

...Having Richard Wolffe host an MSNBC program — or serving as an almost daily "political analyst" — is exactly tantamount to MSNBC's just turning over an hour every night to a corporate lobbyist

Hot damn. He also goes on to note those who've previously written about MSNBC and Wolffe's lack of disclosure over this (Ana Marie Cox), and links to Public Strategies' website. Want to know what one of their divisions is? This is neat:

Media Intelligence™

The Situation

A leading media company faced negative public perception and sagging stock prices resulting from a personal legal situation involving its CEO. Senior Management engaged Public Strategies to reposition the company as a trusted, respected, and innovative leader in its industry, and to help mitigate the crisis and restore confidence in the brand.

Public Strategies' solution

In addition to providing strategic counsel, Public Strategies immediately responded by enacting its Media Intelligence™ service providing the client with a 360-degree perspective of public opinion around the globe

A "360-degree perspective," and a four-dimensional one, too, like A CALL THAT COMES FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE. Furthermore: he points out how Wolffe has gone on the record to a Newsweek reporter after announcing his departure from the weekly as not giving a shit about the line between corporate interests and news. And get ready to walk away from your computer, because you might want to break something:

"The idea that journalists are somehow not engaged in corporate activities is not really in touch with what's going on. Every conversation with journalists is about business models and advertisers," he said, recalling that, on the day after the 2008 election, Newsweek sent him to Detroit to deliver a speech to advertisers. "You tell me where the line is between business and journalism," he said.

Jesus.

At least former MSNBC correspondent, the (potentially) conflict-of-interest-happy Dan Abrams, tries to run interference on the inherent conflicts between owning a media strategies firm Abrams Research and owning a media reporting website Mediaite (or at least: has henchpeople furiously sending emails, telling everyone writing about them to get their facts right).

The Secret, Shameless Sleaze Of MSNBC's Richard Wolffe

The kicker, however, is when Greenwald points out Wolffe's bio on the Public Strategies website, where they actually tout him as a news source: "In addition, Wolffe is an NBC political analyst. He provides political commentary on several MSNBC programs, Meet The Press, and TODAY."

As in, in addition to being our employee, we can send him into the field to say whatever you want him to say! For a price, of course. There's clearly a very small difference in being able to pay to put something in someone's mouth, and being able to pay to get something out of someone's mouth in front of a bunch of other people. Richard Wolffe is about as dirty and shameless a media whore as you can get, taking money from corporations, going on the news with his pockets lined by said interests, and being framed in a context as an objective, righteous news commentator. Richard Wolffe, and by extension, MSNBC, are completely - and I guess, at this point - unexpectedly dirty, and pretty much nothing they claim to be and everything they don't.

The Secret, Shameless Sleaze Of MSNBC's Richard Wolffe

Glenn Greenwald, on the other hand? You deserve something. I don't know. A steak dinner. A stiff drink. But mostly, lots of people to read your column. It's nice to see someone who's not answering to the interest of brass somewhere, which, apparently, is becoming more and more rare as we move forward in this great new era of news, or whatever we're eventually going to call it.


GE's silencing of Olbermann and MSNBC's sleazy use of Richard Wolffe
[Salon]