Maybe Keith Olbermann was suspended because of the failure of the Democratic Party this past campaign season. The leaders in Democratic-oriented thinking are clearly on their heels now. Olbermann of MSNBC was a leading voice for those left of center. Now he's suspended for having given a relatively small sum of money to a couple of Democrats.
It really shouldn't matter that Olbermann is off the air. You can't argue that he did much to boost Democrats' fortunes. He and the likes of Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz made up an interesting cast at MSNBC. They may be interesting but they seem to wield no real influence.
We're atwitter about cable news because for the time being, cable news is an important media establishment. People watch the partisan channels mainly to have their own views reinforced.
MSNBC wasn't converting a whole lot of people to progressivism, as this past election showed. Minnesota appears to have lost whatever was left of its reputation as a Democratic stronghold. No one says "Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome" anymore. It's just "Metrodome" or "Mall of America Field."
Mentioning Humphrey would be an affront in today's climate wherein Republicans have so much momentum, they're almost viewed as non-political. John Wayne must be smiling from the grave.
Republicans are the good guys in today's CW (conventional wisdom). As an example, let me cite the company that owns Fox News which gave money to the Republican Governors Conference and then claimed that this wasn't even political. The company explained that the monetary gesture was made not because the Conference was political, but that it was "pro-business."
It's nice to know that Fox News is staying out of politics. It's just "pro-business."
Why can't Fox just admit that it's political and that it pushes Republicanism? It has to keep some fig leaf of journalistic integrity, I imagine.
But does Fox think we're children? Do they really think that most people would buy their company line on these matters?
If we're all really supposed to buy the line that Republicans are pro-business - who among us would really want to be anti-business? - should there even be a Democratic Party anymore?
Maybe Fox News endorses a two-party system but those two parties would be the Republicans and the Tea Party. Fox has already beat the drums for the Tea Party. If the Tea Party continues to grow as a separate entity, i.e. to not get absorbed by the Republicans, maybe Fox would evolve in its direction.
The Olbermann story is minor. There's a bigger story going on in cable news.
Cable TV is shrinking. More and more people are becoming disconnected from it. For a while, cable news was a huge example of how the media universe was expanding and fragmenting. Now, cable TV is becoming a victim of the very trend that put it in the forefront.
The trend rolls forward and spares no one, least of all the media bigshots who took for granted their mass audiences.
There's no need to lose sleep over whether Fox News is getting an advantage over MSNBC. Fox will always have an advantage with audience size because firm conservatives have always sought out media reinforcement for their paranoia and insecurity. Rush Limbaugh began demonstrating that a long time ago.
Progressives tend to be the kind of people who go about their lives without needing that kind of reinforcement. They might prefer watching a sitcom in the evening.
The people have spoken in the last election and it wasn't because anyone in the media was holding their hand.
If the Duluth area couldn't even keep Jim Oberstar, then clearly something is in the air.
On Fox News just this morning (Saturday) - and when I say "morning" I mean as early as 4 a.m. - a talking head cited two reasons why Oberstar's opponent, Chip Cravaack, won. One was a debate. Gee, I wonder how Fox News would score a debate between a "pro-business" Republican and a Democrat. The other reason cited was the endorsement Cravaack received from the Duluth newspaper.
The Duluth News-Tribune is owned by Forum Communications which also has its mitts on our Morris and Hancock papers.
There has been some controversy in the past over the Forum's apparent company-wide candidate endorsement policy. In this case there are vigorous denials that the Cravaack endorsement was dictated out of the Forum's Fargo headquarters. That may be true, but when you're a Forum employee I think you sleep better at night if you espouse Republican or "pro-business" thinking, because that's the track record of the company.
It's hard enough feeling secure in a media job now.
Increasingly the public doesn't need professional media people churning out product for them to consume. As for the "voice of God" candidate endorsements from the likes of the Duluth News-Tribune, or the Forum or whomever, they're a joke. The Forum and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune endorsed Tom Horner. How did that turn out?
We probably have Horner to thank for the (apparent) election of Mark Dayton as governor. Horner had been a long-time Republican before ego-tripping into the Independence Party. He wasn't likely to draw much Democratic-leaning support.
Four years ago it was the opposite, when wonkish Peter Hutchinson who had a liberal bent may have lifted Tim Pawlenty. Forum Communications endorsed Pawlenty that year.
The print media had more power in 2006 than today. Their claims about shifting to the web are ridiculous because anyone can get on the web. Good grief, I'm plying journalism on the web, and I encourage anyone to compare my coverage of Morris Area Tiger football to what our local legacy media did.
Four years from now, people will notice the declining stature of cable news. The media realities may not matter, if they ever did, much. The Republican wave has formed and may keep rolling forward. After all it's "pro-business." It's fiscally conservative. Not like those Democrats who are anti-business and fiscally reckless.
How could we have ever named a stadium after one of them? The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. It's an abomination. Or maybe we should just admit that times have changed. For the sake of "jobs and business" we need to strip the ordinary people of all their rights and ability to assert themselves.
Remember the days when Johnny Paycheck could climb the charts with the song lyrics "Take This Job and Shove It?" Working people had some leverage and expected some give and take with their superiors. The Paycheck song is an exaggeration but it's illustrative.
Imagine embracing the credo of "I am my brother's keeper." What an anachronistic attitude.
Maybe Olbermann deserves to be shoved into permanent oblivion. Maybe he could just recite those Paycheck lyrics.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org