Spin Control

The LA Times’ Matea Gold has Phil Griffin spinning like a top over the Matthews/Olbermann pairing for the inauguration…

At the time, MSNBC President Phil Griffin insisted he wasn’t swayed by the critique. Nonetheless, he said he concluded that Olbermann and Matthews “were being restrained” from sharing their opinions when they served as news anchors. To allow them to converse more freely, he made Gregory the lead news anchor for major politics events for the rest of the campaign. Olbermann and Matthews remained a major part of the coverage of the presidential debates and election night but were considered analysts, not news anchors.

Now that the election is over, that distinction seems to have blurred. Gregory, the new moderator of “Meet the Press,” will be contributing to the broadcast network’s inauguration coverage, while Olbermann and Matthews will once again be leading MSNBC’s coverage.

In an interview today, Griffin said he’s comfortable with the role that Olbermann and Matthews will play at the inauguration because it’s “a whole day of color commentary.”

“This is a day of watching the festivities and the pomp and circumstance,” he said.

Griffin said he has “no problem putting our guys out to host programs on big events,” adding: “I want to highlight them.”

So Griffin is comfortable if Matthews and Olbermann should perchance cross the line again? Doesn’t he understand that it was precisely the shoot from the hip opinions of the two that caused an uproar inside NBC News? It didn’t work last year. What’s changed this time around? Eventually, if they host enough events, one or both will say something they shouldn’t and a controversy will erupt. That’s not the point of having someone host national news events, to have a controversy erupt. If the ever opinionated FNC can understand that rule, it shouldn’t be too hard for NBC to understand.


8 Responses to “Spin Control”

  1. While I would assume anyone trying to clean-up after Matthews/Olbermann would be like marching in the Rose Parade behind a thousand horses, I still would prefer their commentary to the Kathy Griffin/Anderson Cooper treatment we got at New Years on CNN.
    Admit it….this is nothing more than a parade and ceremony. There, hopefully, will not be any hard news that day.
    I am thrilled to have Barack Obama installed as my president and I betcha he’ll be happy to have that part of it overwith. Let’s get down to correcting the mistakes of the past eight years. That alone will take four.

  2. fanofgrendel Says:

    Matthews/Olbermann will be too busy throwing rose petals to have anytime to say anything.

  3. Suppose for a second that McCain had miraculously won and he was being inaugurated next week.

    Would Olbermann & Matthews front that coverage?

    And would NBC News be talking about it being “a day of festivites and pomp and circumstance”?

    Definitely not on the latter.

    And we know they wouldn’t be able to restrain themselves on the former.

  4. I think Griffin and NBC are trying to draw too fine a distinction here. I assume NBC News will cover the inaugeration on broadcast television with Brian Williams. The impression I get is they consider MSNBC the partisan arm and have no problem with the Democrats covering The Democrat. But the public – especially conservatives – see no separation between NBC News and MSNBC, so every time Griffin blurs the line by mixing opinion with straight news, it tarnishes all of NBC News.

    As a moderate-lefty who had to put up with the conservative cable news/talk radio juggernaut for a long time, I’m thrilled to have liberal opinion shows to watch now. I’d be a lot happier if the powers that be at NBC would stop screwing around with the straight news side of my preferred cable news network.

  5. I’d pay to watch a McCain inauguration covered by Matthews and Olbermann. That would’ve been a total hoot.

    M&O are good theater. If you want straight boring 20th century news reporting of a coronation, you’ve got three broadcast networks and CNN. As much as I despise the “fair and balanced” network, they will be more worth watching that the old guard. And from that day forward they get to shoot from the trees while the M&O network has to toe the party line as Fox did for the past eight years. Hope Chris and Keith got the memo.

  6. As long as NBC News plays a part in MSNBC’s existence, what transpires on MSNBC will leave an imprint upon NBC News. That’s the problem Griffin faces when he puts bomb throwers in the anchor chair. NBC thinks they can have it both ways. They can’t. Last year’s lesson wasn’t learned. It’s now apparent to me that they were looking to just diffuse the situation and would try again later. This became clear when Olbermann’s contract was extended and it was put in the press release that he would play a significant role in all the network’s big stories.

  7. “And would NBC News be talking about it being “a day of festivites and pomp and circumstance”?”

    It would have been black armbands and copious weeping all around.

  8. […] Control: Update 2 Monday it was ICN. Tuesday it was Portfolio’s Jeff Bercovici. Today, Time.com’s James Poniewozik has […]

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