“There ain't no clean way to make a hundred million bucks,” Ohls said. “Maybe the head man thinks his hands are clean but somewhere along the line guys got pushed to the wall, nice little businesses got the ground cut from under them and had to sell out for nickels, decent people lost their jobs, stocks got rigged on the market, proxies got bought up like a pennyweight of old gold, and the five percenters and the big law firms got paid hundred-grand fees for beating some law the people wanted but the rich guys didn't, on account of it cut into their profits. Big money is big power and big power gets used wrong. It's the system. Maybe it's the best we can get but it still ain't any Ivory Soap deal.” ....Raymond Chandler in "The Long Goodbye," published in 1953.
In one of those odd coincidences that we all walk into occasionally, I spent much of the afternoon of January 21 going through notes, printouts and clippings with a view to writing something about the increasing and probably irreversible corruption of the corporate news media. Then I joined my wife for dinner and turned on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” who told us, without explanation, that it was his last show.
The strong but subtly phrased suggestion was that he had been forced out, given a buyout he didn't really want.
That was quickly confirmed by several reports on line, although details are still lacking.
It was nice of MSNBC to give such powerful evidence to support what I plan to say, but like all genuine progressives, I'd really prefer that Olbermann were still regularly on the air.
A number of writers have suggested that Olbermann's canning was part of the already stinking Comcast takeover of NBC. The network denied that, of course, but anyone accepting that denial at face value undoubtedly loses considerable sums to carny games and dealers of three card monty.
Not that it matters. Even without a push from Comcast, it's a much-reported fact that the guys at the top of NBC and MSNBC hate Olbermann.
Why wouldn't they? They're part of the big money crowd. Olbermann made them plenty of money, and turned MSNBC from a puny operation into the second biggest “news” network in the country. But he was against everything the really big money guys believe in, everything they want for themselves and the country -– which is to say, an oligarchy of the super rich and a docile and increasingly poor and powerless population.
MSNBC is left with Rachel Maddow, its number two star up to now, and Ed Schultz and Lawrence O'Donnell. The network executives, for a time anyway, will be comfortable with that lineup.
Olbermann took large bites out of George W. Bush and his gang of crooks, war lovers and profiteers. He was effective. He used facts, unlike the fiction-spouting right-wing evangelicals on Fox News. His facts were devastating in themselves, and more so because the rest of corporate media shied from publishing the most damning of them.
And Olbermann didn't let up when Barack Obama became president. He refused to let Democrats slide on their shady deals with corporate donors just because they were Democrats.
(Democratic Party: The Judas-goat wing of the Corporate Party, so tame that stake and leash are not required.)
Maddow, pulled into MSNBC by Olbermann, was effective in telling some truths during the 2010 campaign season, but she is easily tolerated by the big-money people. She is, first, a part of the Democrat information/propaganda team. She criticizes Obama and the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid gently and only occasionally; mostly her criticisms are softball tweaks of the nose. And she uncritically promotes women Democrats, especially, giving frequent air time to the likes of Minnesota's Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who obeys every command of the National Rifle Association and Israel's Likudnik supporters in this country.
Also, Maddow more and more frequently shows that what she loves is the political game; actual policy is much less important in her little world. She swallows a lot of garbage if it's fed to her by Democrats.
Given the Democratic Party's role as beard for the Republicans, Maddow will be employed for a while.
Very few people pay any attention to Schultz, who demonstrates the intellectual capacity of a moose or a Fox commentator, and O'Donnell is a nice guy badly miscast in his present role. He's trying to be tough lately, but he comes off as merely snarky; he entirely lacks the genuine, admirable toughness of Olbermann, as well as the latter's wit and deep intelligence.
So there you have it.
The oligarchs have scored hugely in the last week. They've removed from the scene the only truly effective progressive commentator in television, they got a major “news” source put into the hands of Comcast, an organization as right wing in philosophy and action as Rupert Murdoch (owner of Fox and a whole lot of other “news” outlets), and the FCC, predictably, approved the tear-down of Internet neutrality, which means that Comcast and its extreme right-wing allies, such as Verizon, will be able to control to very large degree what we can see on the Internet.
Champagne corks must be popping and billionaires must be getting roaringly, happily drunk this weekend, probably in the company of some of their more prominent servants in Congress and the courts.
Things We're Not Supposed to Say