Keith Olbermann · MSNBC

Olbermann ‘Doesn’t Answer’ to NBC News Standards



MSNBC chief Phil Griffin suspended Keith Olbermann today for violating “NBC News policy and standards” by donating to three Democratic congressional candidates last month. But according to an NBC News source, MSNBCers have been exempt from those rules for years.

NBC News rules explicitly bar employees from making political donations without prior approval, which is ostensibly why Griffin suspended Olbermann. But according to one NBC News insider, it’s common knowledge within the organization that MSNBC’s increasingly left-wing programming and personalities aren’t required to abide by NBC News’ exacting rules—if they were, it would be a much less bombastic and politically charged network. So while Olbermann’s donations may have run counter to the NBC News brand and Griffin’s wishes, there doesn’t appear to be a chapter-and-verse policy applying to MSNBC employees barring them.

“The standards department has told us that MSNBC doesn’t answer to NBC News standards,” the insider said. “They don’t have coverage over MSNBC. They used to, back before MSNBC went political, but at some point it became too hard and MSNBC was taken out of their portfolio. As far as I know, there are no ethical standards at MSNBC. And if NBC says MSNBC is supposed to be living up to the NBC News standards, that’s a preposterous lie.”   Continue reading…

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Rush and the Wingnuts’ Absurd New Obama Theory

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave as they board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, Nov. 5, 2010, for a 10-day trip through India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, the longest foreign outing of Obama’s presidency.

These people are absolutely insane.  The lie that they are perpetuating has gone viral in right-wing online communities and the right-wing radio cabal.

The Daily Beast

Stung by huge losses at the polls, King Obama is taking a $2 billion Indian vacation with 3,000 guests on 40 planes. Or that’s what the Wingnuts would have us believe. John Avlon on the right’s latest conspiracy theory.

“A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes,” Mark Twain once famously said. In the Internet age, the speed of a politically motivated lie is even faster—case in point, the Wingnuts’ fact-free, post-election pile-on over President Obama’s trip to India.

The conspiracy theory du jour is an alleged $2 billion price tag for the president’s trip, which would be offensive and imperial indeed if it had any basis in fact. But (almost) needless to say, it doesn’t.

Rep. Michele Bachmann first brought up the India trip expenses two days ago in response to a question from CNN’s Anderson Cooper about what budget cuts she would support.

But specific policy plans aren’t as satisfying as demagoguery, so she pivoted to attack mode.

“The president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day,” she said. “He’s taking 2,000 people with him. He will be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending… it’s a very small example, Anderson. And I think this is an example of the massive overspending that we have seen, not only just in the last two years, really in the last four. That’s what we saw at the ballot box last evening.”

It’s the president as welfare queen, living it up on the taxpayers’ dime, motivated by a sense of revenge.

Soon Glenn Beck was calling the business investment outreach trip “a vacation where you needed 34 warships and $2 billion.” Michael Savage described it as “this incredible royalist visit.” The talk-radio circuit and right-wing blogosphere was burning with manufactured outrage.

A political rumor usually takes hold in people’s minds because it surfs off a pre-existing negative narrative. In this case, the initial impulse builds off accusations of fiscal irresponsibility. But they quickly turn to “King Obama” assignations, which in this White House occupant’s case are not just arrogant out-of-touch elitists or even wannabe Third World dictators. He feels entitled. Entitled, get it?     Continue reading…

Keith Olbermann · MSNBC

Keith Olbermann Suspended Indefinitely

After a week of extremely disappointing news, this breaking news is not helping at all.

Obviously Fox News doesn’t have the same strict rules as MSNBC.  It is what it is…

Huffington Post

MSNBC has suspended star anchor Keith Olbermann following the news that he had donated to three Democratic candidates this election cycle.

“I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a statement.

Politico reported Friday that Olbermann had donated $2,400 each to Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, and to Kentucky Senate contender Jack Conway. While NBC News policy does not prohibit employees from donating to political candidates, it requires them to obtain prior approval from NBC News executives before doing so.

In a statement earlier Friday, Olbermann defended his donation, saying, “I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level.”

Griffin’s statement underscores that it was Olbermann’s failure to obtain approval, and not the actual political donations, that prompted the suspension.

The move is doubly significant in that it represents a major development in the relationship between Griffin and Olbermann, who once told the New Yorker, “Phil thinks he’s my boss.”

“Keith doesn’t run the show,” Griffin told New York Magazine recently. “I do a lot of things he doesn’t like. I do a lot of things he does.”

In recent months, Griffin has taken several bold steps to declare his authority over the network and its sometimes unruly talent: he sent a stern memo warning hosts to not publicly fight with each other, he suspended David Shuster indefinitely for filming a CNN pilot, suspended Donny Deutsch, banned Markos Moulitsas from the network, and reprimanded Ed Schultz for threatening to “torch” the network.

The New York Times’ Brian Stelter and Bill Carter report that, according to one NBC executive, Friday’s suspension is “not a step toward firing” Olbermann. The Nation’s Chris Hayes will host “Countdown” Friday night, the network said (according to a tweet from Yahoo’s Michael Calderone).

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Mario Piperni: In Case You Still Don’t Understand What Happened November 2

Mario Piperni

David Broder gets this first part right.

What happened was that Obama ran into several crises that he and others had not anticipated, and the cumulative weight of those problems ended up frustrating him.

The biggest problem by far was the economy, the virtual collapse of the financial system starting in the autumn of 2008 while George W. Bush was still president. That eased Obama’s path to the presidency but it saddled him with a huge and lingering burden once he was in office.

He was also burdened by the legacy of two wars and a backlog of unmet domestic needs, ranging from a dysfunctional health-care system to undernourished infrastructure and energy sectors.

This part not so much.

Somewhere along the way, Obama lost sight of his campaign pledge to enlist Republican ideas and votes. Maybe they were never there to be had, but he never truly tested it. And the deeper he became enmeshed in the Democratic politics of Capitol Hill, the less incentive there was for any Republican to contribute to his success.

“Never truly tested it”?  Please.  If Obama has done anything wrong, it has been pursuing bipartisanship long after it became clear that Republicans had no intent of doing anything other than gum up the works.  If the President failed, they won.  End of story.  In the world view of Republicans, winning always takes precedence over everything and that includes the economic, emotional and intellectual well being of Americans.

Here’s a piece from the NYT written last March which explains the obstructionist plan laid out by Mitch McConnell and his gang of thugs.

Before the health care fight, before the economic stimulus package, before President Obama even took office, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, had a strategy for his party: use his extensive knowledge of Senate procedure to slow things down, take advantage of the difficulties Democrats would have in governing and deny Democrats any Republican support on big legislation.

Mr. McConnell, 68, a Kentuckian more at home plotting tactics in the cloakroom than writing legislation in a committee room or exhorting crowds on the campaign trail, has come to embody a kind of oppositional politics that critics say has left voters cynical about Washington, the Senate all but dysfunctional and the Republican Party without a positive agenda or message.But in the short run at least, his approach has worked. For more than a year, he pleaded and cajoled to keep his caucus in line. He deployed poll data. He warned against the lure of the short-term attention to be gained by going bipartisan, and linked Republican gains in November to showing voters they could hold the line against big government.

In McConnell’s own words:

“It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out.”

“It’s either bipartisan or it isn’t.”

And if you need a visual for what you just read, here it is. Twenty-one months captured in a single illustration.

U.S. Politics

Can Barack Obama pull a Bill Clinton?

Personally, I’m counting on just that!


A young Democratic president comes into office with big ambitions, gets knocked back on his heels by Republicans in the midterm elections, then makes some deft moves to recapture the center and waltzes to reelection two years later.

It sounds easy enough. And after Tuesday night’s humiliation, it must sound tempting to President Barack Obama and his battered political team. Some commentators have even suggested that losing control of the House might be a blessing in disguise for Obama’s prospects in 2012.

But the widespread speculation that what Obama needs to do now is simply “pull a Clinton” —replicating Bill Clinton’s comeback after being trounced by Newt Gingrich in 1994 — grossly underestimates the challenge that Obama faces, even if he chooses to draw on a Clinton example he once disdained.

Clinton’s revival was hardly an easy process. It was a searing experience for him and his inner circle at both the personal and political levels. It came only after a stark — and intensely humbling — effort by Clinton to overhaul his White House team, recalibrate his ideological ambitions and rethink his basic assumptions of how to be an effective president.

And even then, the outcome was a tenuous thing. Clinton caught a series of lucky breaks from events and from his own enemies. And the comeback won him only 49 percent of the vote: The man widely regarded as one of the most talented Democratic politicians of modern history never commanded a majority in a national election.

The evidence is mixed about how relevant Obama finds the Clinton example. Obama recently told The New York Times that he was reading a book about Clinton, including his dire circumstances in 1994. But The Washington Post recently quoted a “senior White House official” saying archly, “This president is not like that president.” It’s a sentiment Obama aides have often expressed, often with undisguised scorn, over the past three years.

One Clinton veteran, former White House adviser Doug Sosnik, said Obama allies should disabuse themselves of the fantasy that the Tuesday results are a blessing in disguise: “The single greatest luxury you have in politics is the ability to control your own destiny.” Obama has now sacrificed some of that ability to Republicans.

In any event, there are a number of reasons why “pulling a Clinton” is a more formidable undertaking than even many political analysts and strategists imagine:

The circular firing squad

Clinton now is generally recalled fondly among most Democrats, and also regarded as a supremely effective politician. But in 1995, when he began a series of policy and messaging moves to move to the center — known as “triangulation” by his then-consultant Dick Morris — Clinton faced a resentful and bitterly divided party.

After he announced his support for a balanced budget, it was easy for reporters to fill up a notebook on Capitol Hill with hostile quotes from Democrats calling Clinton a quisling, especially after they learned he was being advised by a Republican consultant. Rep. Patricia Schroeder of Colorado said Republicans were playing with the president “like a kitten with a string.” Rep. Dave Obey of Wisconsin jeered, “I think most of us learned some time ago, if you don’t like the president’s position on a particular issue, you simply need to wait a few weeks.”

During the midst of a troubled war in Afghanistan and more polarized politics generally, Obama has a tougher challenge keeping his party unified, and any moves that liberals interpreted as abandoning them for reasons of political expediency would probably earn a much harsher reaction than Clinton received.  

Continue reading…

Sarah Palin

Kondracke: Palin’s a ‘joke’


At the Roll Call/CQ election analysis session at the Ronald Reagan Building this morning, Roll Call Executive Editor and Fox News contributor Mort Kondracke blamed Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint for Republicans’ failure to capture the Senate.

“The people who got slapped the hardest in this election — besides Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama — are Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin,” he said. “Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin are responsible for the fact that the Senate did not go Republican. They’re the ones who are responsible for Christine O’Donnell. They’re the ones who are responsible for Joe Miller in Alaska. They’re the ones who are responsible for Ken Buck in Colorado. They’re the ones who are responsible for Sharron Angle in Nevada.”

Then Kondracke discussed whether Palin could be the 2012 nominee: “She’s a joke even within her own party,” Kondracke said. “The idea that she would be the presidential nominee is unthinkable.”

Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, then said: “Think of Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint as the new faces of the Republican Party. It’s a nightmare for the party, but I think the adults will have a hard time talking about them with anything but complete and utter respect.”

C-SPAN’s got the video.

Meghan McCain

Meghan McCain: Christine O’Donnell Is ‘Out Of Her Frickin’ Mind’ (VIDEO)

Well, I think we all figured that out a while ago, Meghan…

Huffington Post

Meghan McCain, daughter of recently reelected John McCain, came out fists flying on “The Tonight Show” Wednesday, landing punches on the jaws of Christine O’Donnell, Bristol Palin and President Obama.

“I was never a fan of Christine O’Donnell,” McCain said of the losing Delaware Senate candidate whom she predicted — along with three other failed political hopefuls — would win on Tuesday. “She’s out of her frickin’ mind, so I’m glad she’s not in the Senate.”

It’s not the first time McCain has noticed O’Donnell’s apparent wackiness. Last month she conceded that the GOP contender was “seen as a nutjob.”

After making an aside about Sarah Palin, calling her reality show “unpresidential,” McCain then turned her sass toward the former Alaska Governor’s daughter and “Dancing With The Stars” contestant, Bristol Palin, and news that she hadn’t voted in the election.

“I guess it’s only important for Bristol Palin to vote for ‘Dancing With The Stars,'” McCain prodded. “Anyone that doesn’t vote, it’s just ridiculous.”

McCain also took a shot at President Obama for his interview with Ryan Seacrest this week, calling it “trashy.”

Videos: See part 1 and part 2 here…

Obama Administration · Obama Administration’s Achievements · Obama Approval Rating · Obama's Agenda for 2010-2012 · President Obama

Dan Froomkin: Obama Can Pursue Ambitious Agenda Without Congress’s Help

Huffington Post

If President Obama wants to pursue a progressive agenda in the next two years, there are plenty of ways he can do that even without any help from Capitol Hill.

At his post-election news conference on Wednesday, Obama offered more lip service to the notion of compromise. But the fact remains that the next Congress looks to be hopelessly gridlocked. The opposition party is more radicalized than ever. And the only thing the resurgent GOP seems prepared to even discuss with Obama is cutting taxes.

So the big question will be what lesson Obama takes from Tuesday’s election results. If he and his advisors are finally ready to acknowledge that the source of voter unhappiness was government ineffectiveness — rather than government overreach, or a general economic malaise — then there’s plenty of room for him to maneuver on his own.

Indeed, progressives are urging him to seize the opportunity to take a more muscular approach with his executive powers, starting by getting much tougher on banks. They also hope Obama will use his regulatory authority, his enforcement powers, and his prerogatives as commander in chief to make decisive moves that can’t be sabotaged by Congressional Republicans.

The basic message: So much for the prime minister routine, it’s time to act like a president.

“The most important thing the president has to communicate is strength,” said Neera Tanden, a top official at the Center for American Progress. “One of the lessons of history is that the president stands apart from Congress… He has to think about ways he can lead the country without his fate being tied to the Hill.”

“There’s tons of things that can be done,” said Damon Silvers, policy director of the AFL-CIO. “The administration has a vast capacity to act to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, regardless of what happens in Congress.”

The worry, however, is that Obama will be so focused on reaching out to Republican leaders that he will be either uninterested in or afraid of being confrontational in his executive actions.

“The question is not can Obama do things,” Silvers told HuffPost. “The question is will he? Will the administration do the things it can do?”

First Thing: Take On the Banks

The president of the United States oversees a massive regulatory apparatus that, when wielded appropriately, can help level the playing field for the middle class.

And nowhere it that more necessary right now than in the financial world. The recent financial reform legislation, known as Dodd-Frank, created a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and gave regulators new authorities they have yet to use.  Continue…

Fill In Dodd-Frank’s Blanks

“Because Dodd-Frank left so many things to the regulators, in truth much of the bill has yet to be written,” Damon Silvers told HuffPost.

“There is very significant delegation to the administrative agencies to figure out how they’re going to carry out the spirit of the law,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. And because regulatory implementation “plays to the strength of the insiders,” as Weissman puts it, the process “will require a commitment by the administration to stand up to powerful corporate interests”

“Dodd-Frank is being lobbied to death all over again,” Kuttner said. “You’ve got a handful of labor and consumer lobbyists going against hundreds of industry lawyers. If you were willing to be publicly tough on Wall Street, you could turn that into decent politics.”

Climate Change and Immigration

Cap and trade legislation and comprehensive immigration reform are two of the most obvious casualties of the rise to power of House Republicans. But some progressives think Obama could unilaterally make progress in both areas.

“I think there will be a lot of action on the executive front,” said longtime Washington observer Norman Ornstein, the American Enterprise Institute’s house liberal. And at the head of his list is the area of carbon emissions.

“The Supreme Court has basically given the EPA the authority to regulate carbon emissions,” Ornstein explained. In theory that means Obama could impose a cap and trade system solely by executive authority.

“It won’t work that way,” Ornstein said. But Obama’s EPA could go part way, by focusing on regulations for utilities — or the president could use the threat of EPA action as leverage on getting some kind of energy bill through Congress after all.       Continue…

Even Campaign Finance?

There’s zero chance a Republican House is going to limit money in politics. But Obama on his own could roll back some of the excesses of the 2010 election.

The Supreme Court’s January decision in Citizens United allowed, among other things, for nonprofit groups to spend unlimited amounts of anonymous money on campaign ads.   Continue…

Enforcement and Rulemaking

“The main thing I would recommend is enforcement — much more vigorous enforcement,” said Rena Steinzor, a law professor at the University of Maryland and president of the pro-regulation Center for Progressive Reform. “The laws are so under-enforced that you could make a lot of progress in terms of health and safety hazards through tougher enforcement.”

More aggressive civil and criminal prosecutions would have particularly dramatic effects, she said, in areas like mine safety, imported food, Clean Water Act violations and dirty coal-fired power plants.   Continue…

Foreign Policy and the Commander In Chief

One area where a Republican House doesn’t put a crimp on Obama’s plans is foreign policy — and some progressives are hoping the president rededicates himself to some of the agenda he described during the 2008 campaign.

Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, is hopeful that Obama will reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, ideally by getting rid of the “status quo incrementalists” currently on his national security staff. “He’s got to do something other than this tired, constantly defeated set of negotiations,” Clemons said.

As for Afghanistan, congressional Republicans “are going to complain about whatever he does, so he might as well do the smart thing,” Clemons said. “He should realize he’s in a Vietnam War moment, and reduce and refocus the mission.”    Continue…

Odds and Ends

Robert Kuttner recently advocated in the American Prospect on behalf of two presidential measures: Stepped up enforcement of existing labor laws that prohibit such things as phony classifications of workers as temps or contract hires; and the establishment of new rules for government contracting to reward good labor practices and punish scofflaws.

Taking a stand on behalf of decent wages for workers, Kuttner said, isn’t just good policy. “It also has the virtue of getting him on the side of ordinary people, which he doesn’t seem to be too good at the optics of.”   Continue…

A New Crew

And of course Obama could clean house.

“The single best thing he could do is fire [Treasury Secretary Tim] Geithner,” Kuttner said. “Get some people in there who speak for Main Street.”

Even if he doesn’t fire anyone, there are plenty of resignations to deal with. “The question is going to be: Are they trying to send a message by bringing in business executives and insiders and maybe a smattering of Republicans?” Weissman asked. “Or are they bringing in independent voices who will aggressively enforce the law against corporate wrongdoers and deal with the very serious problems the country’s facing?”

The Limits Of Executive Power

There is, then, an awful lot Obama can do without having to strike a deal with speaker-to-be John Boehner. But there are limits to his executive power.

Congress, after all, controls the purse strings. And aside from what can be accomplished through changes in trade policy and jawboning, as noted above, job creation generally costs money.

“I think the big challenge for the president is that he has to focus on the economy, and that’s a concern that requires a lot of bigger items than you can do just through executive authority,” Tanden said.   Continue…