People are blaming the abrupt departure of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC on that company’s merger with Comcast and Olbermann’s loss of the protection and patronage of Jeff Zucker, the former head of NBC programming. MSNBC says that the issue has nothing to do with Comcast.
It seems Olbermann is too extreme for US television. But Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, now they are mainstream. What universe could that proposition be true in? That of cranky old white billionaires. And television news is owned by them. Not by you.
Whether Comcast is the villain of the piece directly, things like the Comcast merger with MSNBC are responsible for there being very few voices on American television (and despite the proliferation of channels) like Olbermann’s. And for there being relatively little news on the “news” programs. Time Warner, General Electric and Comcast (partners in NBC), Viacom, Disney, and Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp own almost all television news. In other words, six big corporations determine what you will hear about the world if you get your news from television. There are fewer and fewer t.v. news outlets that do not belong to one of these six, a process called media consolidation.
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Cole is a history professor at the University of Michigan, and his blog, Informed Comment, is one of the best there is when you want to understand events in the Middle East. But he also provides great insight into domestic issues.
Sometimes they all tie together.
Here’s an interview he had recently concerning the revolution in Tunisia. Last week, a secular uprising led to the ouster of the country’s president of 23 years, and the protests continue today as the people reject the current government, which has a long history of corruption. At around the 2 minute mark, he talks about the U.S. television coverage (or the lack thereof) of the demonstrations: