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Marianne Paskowski

Anchors Away for MSNBC’s Olbermann and Matthews

September 10, 2008 8:06 AM

Over the weekend, NBC Universal, parent of cable news net MSNBC, decided to replace co-anchors Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews on Election Night with MSNBC host David Gregory.

Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman

Chris Matthews, left, and Keith Olberman.

I applaud that move. Watching Olbermann and Matthews co-anchoring the convention, and I confess I couldn’t stand to watch them and didn’t see much, was like witnessing a World Wrestling match.

Both have strong egos, and pairing them together was a huge gamble that failed, as the ratings proved. They both opine and get in the way of the news, which I thought was their job

However, they are really well-paid bloviators. They do that very well, but they are not news anchors.

Frankly, I’ve given up altogether on MSNBC. Before the election, I couldn’t stand to see Matthews ask questions and answer them before guests could respond. As for Olbermann, he’s just getting stale.

I used to like these guys a lot, but I’ve moved on to CNN, and now even drop by Fox News to see what the GOP is plotting.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Olbermann and Matthews after the election. For now, their followings have thinned. They lost me, and I’m a liberal. That’s not a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say.

So boys and girls, who will you turn to on Election Night? You already know where I’ll be, and it’s not MSNBC.


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Comments (35)

Eric Gronwaldt:

I don't need talking heads to tell me what's going on during election night, and as I did during the conventions, it’s PBS or C-Span for this household. I want to witness history, not listen to MSNBC or FOX News spin history. If I relied on cable news for a view of history (or news), I would be surprised to learn on MSNBC the Confederates won at Gettysburg and FoxNews would tell me that we were victorious in Vietnam.
I’ll view, and I’ll decide.

Arthur Greenwald:

I sample a little bit of everything to judge the coverage as well as the events. But during the conventions I heard frequently from friends that they were so put off by the sheer amount of mindless yakking that, like Eric, they stayed with CSPAN and PBS if only to hear speeches without interruption.

Incidentally, if you know a little about the various network formats, you can often catch your favorite commentators and ignore the rest. I learned I could hear Bob Schieffer and Jeff Greenfield immediately after a speech, and by the time they finished it was time to jump to CNN to catch David Gergen, who happily if inexplicably is in their second wave of commentators.


Marianne Paskowski:


I've become a fan of Anderson Cooper, he knows when to keep his mouth shut and let the story, such as the convention unfold, and reports what he's seeing.

Awhile ago, Comcast here relegated MSNBC to Siberia, a digital tier. That's fine by me, if I want to see it, I can go to another room. But the TV set in my office does not have a converter box, and don't miss that network one bit while working.

MSNBC lost me well before Comcast gave it the downgrade.

Thanks for the post,

Marianne Paskowski:


You're like my husband, a channel surfer, and I am not. I'm usually online or on the phone, with the TV set on in the background.

As for C-SPAN, I think it does a great job, but it's not a destination for me.

Good to hear from you Arthur,


I actually agree with your blog today. There is a difference between reporting the news and giving your opinions. Olberman & Mathews both do a great job on their own shows about giving their opinions. However, covering a convention is news and should be neutral and unbiased. They should wait until their own shows to voice their opinions.

But let's not fool ourselves. I'm not saying you are, but you can't blame the networks for giving these over-the-top right/left wing people their own shows - Olberman/O'Reilly etc. They are controversial. Controversy = viewers = more advertising $

Marianne Paskowski:

Joe, wow you actually agree with me today, this self-professed bloviator is in awe. And I agree with you for one: that Olbermann etal attract viewers and hence advertisers.

Thanks for your well-informed post:}



Hey M,
I never agreed with this move from the get go. It was like allowing Fox to give O'Reilly and Hannity the reigns on election night. Not a good idea. MSNBC was just so desperate for ratings that they did this. It worked for a while and I believe they've gotten some of the NBC fans around, but its time to give a real newsperson a chance (and I would argue even if Gregory is a real news person- he's not afraid to share his opinion on his show).
As for me, I'll actually check out Brit and Chris on Fox (both are great anchors) and hope we get to see Shep Smith too (he's a hoot!).

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Jason,
You know who I totally forgot about, Katie Couric, I am going to make a point of checking up on her. Would love to see a woman's touch on this scene.

Always good to hear from you,

Jeff Mulligan:

Marianne --

So much for the bloviating pundits posing as news anchors: you capture the issue well and your readers rightly praise the convention coverage that displayed the convention rather than on-air commentators' egos.

But, in my opinion, the convention speeches were so vacuous that we needed bloviating pundits on the right and left to cut through the publum.

What that means for election night is a different story. We'll need facts, not interpretation, so I'll go with CSPAN and PBS.



Yo, Blondie --

So instead of Mathews and Olberman, you expected Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow? The latter two are both dead, as is straight-up broadcast journalism, replaced by partisan drivel. Right wing? Watch Fox. Left wing, watch MSNBC. Intelliigent? Read newspapers and blogs online.

Cruisin not bruisin

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Jeff,
You know, I really, really tried to watch some of this stuff on C-SPAN, you're right, a lot of the speeches were numbing.

So here is my question to future posters: What exactly is the role of the bloviator?

I have my own thoughts: to keep viewers alert and interested.Thanks for posting your view, m

Joe Guerin:

On election night, I'll be in a sports bar somewhere watching something more enlightening than TV election coverage. Maybe senior citizen tiddlywinks playoffs. One or the other jerk will win, having made campaign promises no more consequential than a well-placed tiddle on a strategically critical wink.


Marianne Paskowski:

Oh Cruiser,

For once I agree with you, one of my fave online sites is Huffington. But hey, I'm a liberal, and you're probably writing this from one of your many homes.

But let's not forget, what's news, and opinion. I know you know that, always a hoot to hear from you.

Marianne Paskowski:

We have three Joe's here who visit this site, frequently. So to this Joe, by the time election night comes, it really won't matter, will it?

However, pushing forward, may we all learn from our mistakes. I think I made one, once.

Raptor Ron:

Tonight I'm watching Keith Olberman's show, pointing out how hypocritical and silly McCain's feigned outrage over Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comment is.

Watch CNN or broadcast TV and all you get is lame attempts to play it down the middle, rather than coverage that states the obvious. Thank goodness for those "bloviators." Olberman speaks truth in the face of the McCain/Republican lie machine.

Raptor Ron

Don Wolf:

I'm shocked!

Obama is picking on an old man. Doesn't he have any respect for senility?


Marianne Paskowski:

That's dandy, he's not anchoring a newscast of the ilk of Election Night. Just his low rated show.

Thanks, I think, m

Marianne Paskowski:


Good point, I hope I hear a hell of a lot more about senility, a moose-eating governor, a black from Chicago, whatever.

There is a place for bloviators, but not on the nightly newscast. And I emphasize the word news.

Maybe we need a new label here, like the newspapers do, to distinguish between news and opinion.

I like bloviator, don't think it will fly.


The Wordsmith:

Spot on, Marianne -- It was a good idea to oust Keith and Chris as anchors. Waaaaaaayyyy too much editorializing to be considered serious journalism. Indeed, Edward R. Murrow must be spinning in his grave -- as are Huntley and Brinkley, no doubt. But, yo cruiser -- the venerable Cronkite is alive and kicking. Tsk,tsk...Shame on you. But I digress...
Keith and Chris are fine on their shows, where humorous dialogue and egotistical spin are now commonplace and expected; I watch them both with the same relish as I watch Stewart and Colbert. But for serious journalism

Marianne Paskowski:


You have to forgive Cruiser, he doesn't know who's dead or alive, he wi-fi's from ports unknown, lots of time shares, condos, etc. He's a great guy.

But here's the core question: Do you think normal viewers really know the difference between news and opinion?

I absolutely think not. When I talk to people outside of the biz,
I'm more than a little stunned to hear what they think are the real headlines of the day.

So much so, that I'm thinking of asking my editors to retitle my blog as "The Cable Bloviator."

Thanks for chiming in, m

The Wordsmith:

Yikes! What a horrible thought -- people don't know the difference between journalism and opinion???? Oh noooooo.....

Marianne Paskowski:


Trust me it's true, I've entertained many a yahoo here who don't know the difference. When I entertain, and the topic comes to politics, I wash the dishes, tidy up and get out of the fray.

Think about this: eight years of George Bush, need I say more?

Ron Alridge:

I get a kick out of Olberman (not such much with the ever-interrupting Matthews) but I think this Fox-induced plunge into raw opinion occasionally masquarading as news is ill-advised. After a while, a total lack of objectivity raises serious questions about credibility, which eventually leads to what you've described--staleness.
The best way to beat O'Reilly is with truth and professionalism, not the same kind of crap that Fox has become infamous for serving up. We liberals aren't like the Right Wing nuts. We aren't content to merely cheer when people tell us what we want to hear, see or read.
Keep up the good work, old friend.

Independent NYer:

Matthews might be an interesting guest, but as an anchor or moderator, forget it. Olberman is so far left, he almost (but not quite) makes me miss Rosie O'Donnell's insanity. And like most liberals, Olberman never lets facts get in the way of his purely emotional rants. Ship them both off to San Francisco where they will be appreciated for what they are and what they do.

O'Reilly, for all the bashing, is great at what he does and unlike Matthews and Olberman, O'Reilly actually allows all points of view to be represented, and uses facts to support his bloviating -- which always infuriates liberals.

The fact is Fox News came along and simply wiped the floor with the rest. I certainly enjoy watching much of what they do because it does help "balance" out the rest of the news I read and watch. Lately though, I think CNN has stepped it up, particularly with the addition of Campbell Brown, and a more balanced group of commentators to offset "Obamastock."

Right now, I'm watching CNN and Fox equally and rubbernecking towards MSNBC just to keep and I on the crash.

Marianne Paskowski:

Don't agree with you about O'Reilly, he ambushes guests. Remember John Higgins? He almost got into a fist fight with him when John appeared on the show and O'Reilly ignored the topic John agreed to talk about.

From what John said, they had to be pulled apart in the green room.

Good to hear from you, m

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Ron,
It never fails to amaze me how popular Fox News is. At my gym, there are about 20-30 individual TV's on treadmills, etc., and it's stunning to see how many men and women watch Fox.

Hope you're well, and stay in touch, m


Hey M,
While O'Reilly's ambushing can get a bit old, he is really quite straight up in his interviews. Viewers agree too. His interviews of Obamas where he asked real questions was seen by about 3 times as many as Olbermann's softball game. People want answers. He tries to give them to them.

Marianne Paskowski:


The problem with Olbermann is he tries too hard to be funny, too many stale gimics, not to mention his long-time tirade about O'Reilly.

I'm not an O'Reilly fan, but I can see why viewers like him.

Wonder if MSNBC learned anything from its convention coverage fiasco? I once had high hopes for that network, but that was several years ago.


Two bright, well informed guys who I think have not been used well by management.

The best I ever saw Mathews was outside the Kennedy Center during the time he was conversing with guests during the tribute to Tim Russert. We saw Mathews reflective, conversational, actually listening to the comments of his guests. It was beyond refreshing...NBC should take the hint, as should he, and bring that side of him forward.

Olberman too has so much to offer. He is a brilliant observer and commentator. He calls it like he sees it and holds no punches. During these last seven years of the Rove-Bush-Cheney Spin, Keith has held a bright candle up to reveal their blow torch attack on our Constitution.

So give him a platform for informed, opinionated observations. It will make for healthy discourse with opposing views.

Gregory is a great choice to saddle an anchor desk, any anchor desk.

Now, let's see if The Peacock's news chief can figure out the obvious...DUH.
Peter Bright

Marianne Paskowski:

I Peter,
Don't get me wrong, I, too, like these guys, not as much as you do, but together they are a disaster. I think the Peacock already learned a lesson, given its decision to let Gregory anchor Election Night.

Thanks for chiming in,


How can a NYer not see through O'Reilly's 'fair & balanced' spin?

Two reasons to watch FOX (now that it cancelled the excellent, fair, and very balanced Newswatch, else it would've been three): 1) it's the only all-news cable station that works all through the weekend, unless there's breaking news; 2) know your enemy.


Hey Arlene,
Fox News Watch wasn't canceled. It just has a new host in John Scott. It is however, preempted at times for breaking news (which seems to be happening on weekends quite a bit lately).

One of Dem:

Oh Kids,
Behave yourselves, I'm cleaning up after a dinner party and my dish washer and/or septic field, yes, I live in rural America, not Sara Palin's,
is/are frigging amuck and I'm crabby, while hubs sleeps as I mop up here at this hour.



When it comes election night coverage, any monkey can read off a teleprompter the results as they come in. It takes some sort of perspective to draw conclusions and make that coverage interesting. Giving a personal slant on the news may lead to some bias showing through, and in the case of Matthews and Olberman, I will not argue that their bias shows through. However, I've always liked their coverage because it was interesting. It's not just a matter of my personal slant either, my seccond favorite coverage would be fox news. CNN and the networks are completely boring to me. Hopefully giving Gregory the anchor position will still allow for some decent analysis from the peanut gallery of Matthews Olberman and the others.

One of Dem:


Your last sentence says it all, thanks for the post.


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