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MSNBC makes changes

But the more things change...

There are so many gems in this article about shuffling at MSNBC that it’s hard to decide where to begin….

After months of accusations of political bias and simmering animosity between MSNBC and its parent network NBC, the channel decided over the weekend that the NBC News correspondent and MSNBC host David Gregory would anchor news coverage of the coming debates and election night. Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews will remain as analysts during the coverage.

Oh yeah, that should eliminate any claims of bias. Isn’t David Gregory’s main claim to fame that at Bush press conferences he gives the longest speeches –er, I mean, asks the longest questions?

The change — which comes in the home stretch of the long election cycle — is a direct result of tensions associated with the channel’s perceived shift to the political left.

Perceived?

“The most disappointing shift is to see the partisan attitude move from prime time into what’s supposed to be straight news programming,” said Davidson Goldin, formerly the editorial director of MSNBC and a co-founder of the reputation management firm DolceGoldin.

That was supposed to be straight news programming? With Olbermann? Oh and BTW, what’s a “reputation management firm”? Do they look for people like OJ and John Edwards to represent?

In January, Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews, the host of “Hardball,” began co-anchoring primary night coverage, drawing an audience that enjoyed the pair’s “SportsCenter”-style show. While some critics argued that the assignment was akin to having the Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly anchor on election night — something that has never happened — MSNBC insisted that Mr. Olbermann knew the difference between news and commentary.

It’s possible he “knew the difference” I suppose, not that it actually made any difference.

But in the past two weeks, that line has been blurred. On the final night of the Republican convention, after MSNBC televised the party’s video “tribute to the victims of 9/11,” including graphic footage of the World Trade Center attacks, Mr. Olbermann abruptly took off his journalistic hat.

His journalistic hat? Stop it, you guys are killing me!

The change casts new doubt on what some staff members believe is an effective programming strategy: prime-time talk of a liberal sort. A like-minded talk show will now follow “Countdown” at 9 p.m.: “The Rachel Maddow Show,” hosted by the liberal radio host, begins Monday.

Wait I thought it was supposed to be straight news. Now they’re saying the goal was a liberal show?

Mr. Griffin, MSNBC’s president, denies that it has an ideology. “I think ideology means we think one way, and we don’t,” he said. Rather than label MSNBC’s prime time as left-leaning, he says it has passion and point of view.

Ah, having Pat Buchanan on there is an attempt to main plausible deniability of an ideological bent.

But MSNBC is the cable arm of NBC News, the dispassionate news division of NBC Universal. MSNBC, “Today” and “NBC Nightly News” share some staff members, workspace and content. And some critics are claiming they also share a political affiliation.

Dispassionate?

Al Hunt, the executive Washington bureau chief of Bloomberg News, said that the entire news division was being singled out by Republicans because of the work of partisans like Mr. Olbermann. “To go and tar the whole news network and Brokaw and Mitchell is grossly unfair,” he said, referring to the NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

Ah, so he admits MSNBC was completely biased except for a couple of people with NBC pedigrees.

NBC Universal executives are also known to be concerned about the perception that MSNBC’s partisan tilt in prime time is bleeding into the rest of the programming day. On a recent Friday afternoon, a graphic labeled “Breaking News” asked: “How many houses does Palin add to the Republican ticket?” Mr. Griffin called the graphic “an embarrassment.”

That’s classic – they deny that the partisanship is spreading right after they’ve announced Rachel Maddow for prime time.

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