The New York Times reported today that MSNBC “star” Keith Olbermann was kaput at the cable news network. No official reasons were given, though it was known for some time that NBC and the “star” were at odds.
You may recall that earlier this week, regulators at the FCC and DoJ approved the merger of Comcast and NBC. For weeks leading up to the merger, the twitter-sphere was larded with comments that once the merger was approved, it would likely result in Olbermann’s dismissal. True to this line, the Times story notes that numerous fans had blamed Comcast for Olbermann’s departure due to political reasons. Comcast, of course, quickly denied such a connection.
Whatever the real story is behind the incident, such lack of facts did not stop former Free Press adviser (and University of Nebraska law professor), Marvin Ammori, from stating:
Keith Olbermann’s announcement tonight, the very same week that the government blessed the Comcast-NBC merger, raises serious concern for anyone who cares about free speech. Comcast proved expert in shaking down the government to approve its merger. Comcast’s shakedown of NBC has just begun.
I care about free speech. What I care most about the First Amendment is its proscription against government actors from infringing upon private actors’ speech. Being a law professor, Free Press associate Ammori should know that. So, I have to wonder, what First Amendment is Ammori reading, or teaching for that matter – one written by Marx (Groucho?)?
Really, what is the First Amendment connection here? Where’s the government actor who made this decision? Was the super-secret “bat phone” used, hidden deep within some un-disclosed bunker, with Dick Cheney making the call? Seriously, Marvin, show us your “math” because it’s not clear.
And, Free Press, is this how you look at the First Amendment, too – bent, distorted, and, I submit, just plain wrong?