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MSNBC’s problem with vitriolic hosts blamed on Keith Olbermann

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Personal attacks on conservatives at the pro-Obama network MSNBC are legendary, but could it be that it’s all Keith Olbermann‘s fault?

According to a communications professor at Fordham University, it very well may be.

“MSNBC got the wrong message from its Keith Olbermann experience,” professor Paul Levinson told The Associated Press in a recent article. “You had somebody who was very charismatic and galvanizing and they thought it was OK basically to let anybody say whatever they want.”

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Some will argue that Olbermann’s stinging criticism of right-wing politicians put MSNBC on the map. And despite his abrupt departure, this script looked to be set in stone at the network.

A script that would eventually result in MSNBC President Phil Griffin being forced to apologize to the GOP after the network’s Twitter account posted a message suggesting “the right-wing” would hate a biracial Cheerios ad.

Since then, Griffin “has quietly put the word out to hosts to avoid personal attacks,” according to the Associated Press.

The ill-timed tweet came on the heels of MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry mocking a Mitt Romney family photo that included an adopted black family member, and the resignation of fellow host Martin Bashir over vile remarks made about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

“If you’re going to be a news organization, I think you probably need a little more self-control than the MSNBC commentators have,” Levinson said.

Which may explain why the network’s ratings have taken a hit since 2012, and why a recent Public Policy Polling survey showed only 6 percent of TV viewers say they trust MSNBC.

Levinson added that the rhetoric at MSNBC “does reflect badly on NBC.” That same PPP survey may indicate just how badly — NBC was dead last with just 3 percent saying they trust the network.

Tom Tillison


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