Sen. Bernie Sanders, Keith Olbermann, and stopping Comcast/NBCU merger


The recent suspension of MSNBC prime time Talker Keith Olbermann for political donations has Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) worried about the future of progressive voices in the media. He said putting NBCU in the hands of Comcast was worrisome on that count and vowed to try to block the pending merger.

He said that the availability of Republican and conservative viewpoints was guaranteed because they are present on Fox News Channel and are congruent with the views of News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch.

Some have suggested that Comcast had a say in the Olbermann suspension, a charge Comcast has denied. Sanders did not go there, however, suggesting that the suspension “for a bogus reason” is worrisome, coming as it did prior to Comcast having any say in the matter. He laid the blame on current NBC owner General Electric.

But if this happens now, what will happen when NBC us under the control of Comcast’s Stephen B. Burke, wonders Sanders. In a Huffington Post blog, Sanders wrote that Burke was “a ‘Bush Ranger’ who raised at least $200,000 for the 2004 reelection campaign of President George W. Bush.”

Sanders vowed to put a stop to the merger. “As Vermont’s senator, I intend to do all that I can do to stop this merger. There already is far too much media concentration in this country. We need more diversity. We need more local ownership. We need more viewpoints. We do not need another media giant run by a Republican supporter of George W. Bush. That is the lesson we should learn from the Keith Olbermann suspension.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Anti-consolidation watchdogs are naturally against talk of almost any kind of media merger. This particular merger has also aroused a very noticeable amount of competitor opposition as well. But if it goes through, we suspect Olbermann’s continued employment will be a business rather than a political decision.