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Rachel Maddow Gently Rolls Olbermann Under the Bus

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Ah, that Rachel Maddow can be such a tease. From the opening of her 9PM November 5, 2010 broadcast of her MSNBC show, she grinned mischievously between each commercial break, holding us with the promise she would give her take on the suspension of her "friend" Keith Olbermann. We've come to think we know this cocky and fearless force for truth and justice; so popped our popcorn in anticipation of the cleaning of MSNBC brass's clock for the unjust thing they did to her mentor; somehow knowing she'd save this best part of the her broadcast for last.

We listened patiently to her expose of the list of FoxNews pundits and sidekicks who contributed money and attended fundraisers for favored Republican candidates, far in excess than any contributions Keith made. We endured the lecture on how her facts were proof that FoxNews was a political organization and MSNBC a real news organization by virtue of the GE/Comcast network's strict rules prohibiting its on air staff from political giving without prior approval.

"I know everybody likes to say, 'Oh, that's cable news, it's all the same. Fox and MSNBC, mirror images of each other.' Let this lay that to rest forever. Hosts on Fox News raise money for Republican candidates. They endorse them explicitly, they use their Fox News profile to headline fundraisers, " Rachel hammered. "Heck, there are multiple people being paid by Fox News now to essentially run for office as Republican candidates.They can do that because there's no rule against that at Fox. They run as a political operation; we're not."

Yes, yes, we know all that. But what about the rotten thing your bosses did to Keith? Go after that Comcast embed new NBC CEO Steve Burke, Rachel. You know, that Bush Pioneer fundraiser who frowns on folks who take pokes at Republicans and support Net Neutrality. Go get him Rachel!

Again, Rachel emphasized Keith was her friend, as though we hadn't quite heard her repeat that throughout her show. She added, however, the juicy tidbit that--hush now--she and her "friend" are "avowed liberals". But the popcorn had gone cold by the time she gently rolled her friend Keith under the bus with the caveat, "We are a news operation and the rules around here are part of how you know that."

"I understand this rule, I understand what it means to break this rule. I believe everybody should face the same treatment under this rule," she told us, signaling bus driver Burke she was being a good girl.

But least we see this betrayal for exactly what it was, Maddow issued a proclaimation that the bus not roll completely over her old mentor, but, "I also personally believe that the point has been made and we should have Keith back hosting Countdown."

How very gracious of her. Our popcorn slipped from our laps onto the floor.

Maybe she was feeling vulnerable, after spending weeks lecturing Democrats on their lack of courage in taking on Republican bullies. Maybe we expected her to practice what she preached. Rolling over for the NBC brass ain't doing that.

She, of all people, must know if Keith Olbermann goes, she's next for Comcast's Corporate firing squad. Perhaps giving the 10PM slot to the spokesman for the Catfood Commission was blunt warning. Yet, instead of timidity, she should have faced that certainty and firmly stood with the man who had elevated her career. "He goes, I go, too," she should have told us, trusting us to mobilize on her behalf. She should have been resolute, even against the liklihood of sharing Keith's Fate, that what NBC/GE/Comcast did was actually political in its nature; that Comcast wants Net Neutrality killed; that every Congressperson who signed their commitment to pass Net Neutrality lost their jobs on November 2, 2010; that Keith had started drummming for Net Neutrality and likes Democrats, while Comcast, another corporate beast on steriods, wants Net Neutrality destroyed along with the political party that favors it.

Bottom line, Maddow should have showed more loyalty to the man who elevated her career by at least saying she disagreed with the decision of her boss. Yeah, that takes guts, but all she demonstrated was how easy it is for her to preach that progressives and their elected should take a stand, but wimped out when she faced her own fears of retribution.

But Rachel wants us to know Keith is her friend.

Et tu, Rachel?
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Retired, Robert Arend was president of an AFSCME local from 1997-2007.
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