GE's silencing of Olbermann and MSNBC's sleazy use of Richard Wolffe
by Glenn Greenwald
So here we have yet another example -- perhaps the most glaring yet -- of the corporations that own our largest media outlets controlling and censoring the content of their news organizations based on the unrelated interests of the parent corporation. In light of that, just marvel at what the supreme establishment-power-worshiper Charlie Rose said dismissively in March, 2003, when he had Amy Goodman on his show as a condescending example of someone who opposed the Iraq War, after Goodman touted the vital importance of "independent media" in America:
ROSE: I don't know what "independent" means -- "independent" in contrast to what?
GOODMAN: It means not being sponsored by the corporations, the networks -- like NBC, CBS, ABC: NBC owned by General Electric, CBS owned by Viacom, or ABC owned by Disney --
ROSE: My point in response to that would be that we do need you . . . . Having said that, 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.
That's the very same Charlie Rose who sat there with the CEO of GE and the CEO of News Corp. as an agreement was reached to order their news employees to stop criticizing the activities of Fox and GE in order to protect the corporate interests of those parents.
It makes no difference what one thinks of O'Reilly's attacks on the corporate activities of GE or Olbermann's criticisms of O'Reilly and Fox News. Whatever one's views on that are -- and I watch neither show very often -- those are perfectly legitimate subjects for news reporting and commentary, and the corporate decree to stop commenting on those topics is nothing less than corporate censorship. A reader last night put it this way by email:
It's interesting and somewhat shocking to me that a NYT article wouldn't even mention the effect on the hosts' journalistic freedom. . . . I assume that both Olbermann and O'Reilly would not have agreed to the truce, as the battle is ratings gold for both of them, and I'm sure they frankly hate each other and enjoy it.
The sad truth is that what Olbermann and O'Reilly were doing in this particular instance was one of the rare examples of good journalism on these types of shows. Olbermann was holding O'Reilly's feet to the fire about his repeated falsehoods and embarrassing positions. In turn, O'Reilly was giving the public accurate and disturbing information about General Electric, including extensive technology dealings with Iran. In my personal opinion, this was one of the rare useful pieces of information O'Reilly ever presented to his audience, and Olbermann was there to show how lousy the rest of O'Reilly's information was. Though it was in the context of a bitter feud, the two men were actually engaging in real journalism, at least in this case.
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