by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
journalism, keith olbermann, pipa, protect ip, ron wyden, sopa

nbc universal

Keith Olbermann, No Longer Afraid Of Corporate Parent Interference, Willing To Talk On Air About PIPA/SOPA

from the stand-up-to-the-man dept

We've noted widespread, mainstream media coverage of the massive problems with both SOPA and PIPA (PROTECT IP). With papers like the NY Times and the LA Times coming out against SOPA, this isn't just a fringe issue any more. But you know where it's been almost totally absent? TV news. In particular, cable news has been totally ignoring the concerns with the bill. Want to take a guess as to why? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that all of the big TV news channels -- Fox News, MSNBC and CNN -- happen to be owned by the very companies that are the biggest supporters of this bill. NBC Universal, of course, has been making a big push to get the bills approved. Think they would allow SOPA/PIPA criticism on the air?

So, it's interesting to see that someone who is willing to discuss this issue on TV is Keith Olbermann. Love him or hate him (and I recognize the strong emotional feelings he brings out in people), he's still a big name in TV news... just not on one of the big channels any more. As you may recall, he had a bit of a "falling out" with MSNBC. One of the points he made when he signed on with Current TV was that he constantly felt some pressure not to piss off corporate ownership:
During the conference call, Olbermann acknowledged another upside in his new arrangement: not being tied to a larger corporation like Comcast or G.E. Olbermann said the “purity of this operation” is that he doesn’t have to worry about whether what he says on air will affect the conglomerate's other non-news businesses.

"There is nothing on my shoulder other than getting the best news, information and commentary show on the air every day," Olbermann said, adding later that in writing practice shows, "I’ve stopped myself from stopping myself."
Thus, it should come as no surprise that while the big cable channels seem to have a blackout on anything criticizing these bills, Olbermann had Senator Wyden come on to discuss the problems with the bill, as well as some of Wyden's suggestions for ways to fix the bill. Wyden also noted that he's working on a bipartisan alternative bill that doesn't involve censorship or breaking fundamental tenets of the internet, and which (hopefully) won't hold back innovation online. We'll certainly be interested to see what he comes up with.

Either way, it kind of makes you wonder how much longer the big cable news channels can continue to ignore the story... and what that says about the editorial independence of their reporters and commentators. Still, the message should be loud and clear for those working at any of those stations: if your corporate bosses get pissed off at you for challenging them on SOPA/PIPA... the internet will be quite happy to embrace you.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  • icon
    MAJikMARCer (profile), Nov 30th, 2011 @ 2:17pm

    Conflict of Interest

    It's no wonder the news is more like watching Entertainment Tonight, there is too much conflict of interest. But what can be done?

    We Internet savvy may find our news other ways, but lets face it there is a large percentage of the population who take cable/network news as gospel and if they haven't heard about it, then it's a non-issue (re: trying to explain something like SOPA to them).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2011 @ 2:41pm

      Re: Conflict of Interest

      I agree! I've been posting to Facebook all about SOPA so my friends are aware. So far, only one friend is paying attention to the issue, nobody else cares.

      When I explained this to one friend, she just told me they made it up.

      On top of that, most people I know watch TV news, I even tried explaining that they're not covering it because they want this bill to pass. I use ABC News (GMA, 20/20, etc) as an example, it's owned by Disney.

      It's a losing battle with me, only two of my friends care about this bill. One on Facebook, and one who's not on Facebook. :(

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2011 @ 2:44pm

    What the hell is that computer screen showing? It's like they went to or something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2011 @ 2:46pm


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2011 @ 3:01pm

    This is why we need to abolish government established cableco and broadcasting monopolies. These laws, just like SOPA and others, are designed to foster censorship and that's what they result in.

    The FCC started regulating broadcasting airwaves under the pretext that it won't result in censorship because they'll ensure a minimal amount of competition. But time has proven that allegation to be false. Our laws result in censorship. Despite allegations to the contrary, this is no different. SOPA and similar laws will also likely result in censorship.

    Any attempts to expand IP, or the enforcement thereof, need to be resisted. The only acceptable course of governmental action right now is to substantially retract IP law. These laws are currently not in the public interest whatsoever and its a travesty that our laws have resulted in a system of censorship that censors everything that's wrong with these laws while promoting pro-IP propaganda.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jakerome (profile), Nov 30th, 2011 @ 5:28pm

    I need to post somewhere!

    Just read the MPAA propaganda masquerading as a news piece and I had to respond. Here's what I wrote. ls-says-movie-industry-supporter

    That's simply stunning, for a New York Times reporter to regurgitate as fact the propaganda espoused by the MPAA and RIAA. Specifically this, "The proposed bills are intended to combat foreign-based Web sites that traffic in stolen copyrighted content by forcing sites that assist them through searches, payments or other means to sever those connections." I would expect a writer for this publication would be familiar with the proposed law and know that the law is not restricted to foreign websites.

    And how does it propose to restrict access? Why, by having the government mandate censorship, and by making all sites that allow user generated content subject to massive secondary liability claims.

    It's a bit disturbing that it's claimed and reported so matter of factly that the MPAA is re-writing this bill. That's not government by, for and of the people. Rather, it's by, for and of the corporate interests. The credulity of this report is even more shocking since the New York Times and many other mainstream news sites have recognized the danger the bill poses to open expression and freedom of creativity.

    But the biggest laugher is the claim that Google is trying to "gin up" opposition to the bill with spurious claims. That's a lot of chutzpah from an organization that routinely claims movie piracy harms corn farmers, soldiers serving overseas and the US economy itself! It's like living in some sort of fantasy world.

    It's no wonder that the MPAA propaganda tries to use true problems like counterfeit drugs with in order to enable massive government censorship intended solely to save them from adapting their Buggy Whip business model. They put forward blue collar workers decrying lost jobs while executives collect $75 million bonuses and lobbyists earn millions a year for successfully buying off Congress for a full generation to date.

    It ends now. SOPA and its cousins are disastrous and should simply not be passed in any form.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2011 @ 5:39pm

      Re: I need to post somewhere!

      I like this line in particular

      "“There are lots of hurdles to be overcome,” said Mr. O’Leary, who acknowledged that the holidays and the coming turmoil of an election year would not make things any easier."

      IOW, he almost admits that the public does not like the idea of expanding our already oppressive IP laws.

      Our current IP laws are not the will of the public and the admission that it is more difficult to expand these laws during an election year suggests that IP laws are more easily passed during a non-election year, when the public will can be more easily ignored and the government can better pass laws that are not representative of the public. If the public likes IP laws so much then why is it admittedly more difficult to pass these laws during an election year?

      The government should represent the public will at all times and it's sad that the government can better pass non - representative laws during a non-election year. So much for a representative government.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2011 @ 5:44pm

      Re: I need to post somewhere!

      and, btw, why don't I see your comment listed?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jakerome (profile), Nov 30th, 2011 @ 5:56pm

        Re: Re: I need to post somewhere!

        It's in the moderation queue. The New York Times isn't a big fan of real-time conversations in their comments section. I'm sure it will be posted, wish I could fix the typo in the last full paragraph.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 30th, 2011 @ 6:13pm

    Opposing the Establishment doesn't pay so well.

    "if your corporate bosses get pissed off at you for challenging them on SOPA/PIPA... the internet will be quite happy to embrace you." -- At a tenth of the income and "access" to politicians, prestige, and so on. That's pretty much a fact. The "mainstream media" pays for orthodoxy, and if you don't follow the one-party line, dozens of others are ready to take your place. To even get near one of those jobs you've been "vetted" through college and internship, so they have few who suddenly discover principles. -- And given that Olbermann pretty much switched from dis-approving of Bush's wars to approving of Obama's wars, he's not great on principle, either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    gorehound (profile), Nov 30th, 2011 @ 6:34pm

    In Portland, Maine there has been not one word about this.I have been posting it on their Message Boards and I have personally wrote the local paper The Portland Press Herald.My band Big Meat Hammer is the oldest punk band in Maine and that paper has done stories on me before so I asked them WHY No Reporting on SOPA/PIPA.

    Of course there still is no news or even a reply to my email.If you live up here do the same thing to that Newspaper.Nothing like censorsing the news and not reporting on a very important issue for all US Citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Patrick McKay, Nov 30th, 2011 @ 6:44pm

    While I totally agree with everything Mike says in this article, it's worth noting that CNN did at least run an article about the SOPA controversy on their website:

    I have no idea what they've done in their television coverage since I don't have cable, but they haven't completely ignored the story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bshock, Dec 1st, 2011 @ 8:37am

    Just a question, Senator Wyden

    Why do we need an "alternative" to PIPA/SOPA? Haven't we already amply established that these are entirely solutions to a business model problem that exists solely in the heads of Big Media execs? Haven't we repeatedly shown evidence that existing law is not just well suited for handling any problem that might exist, but that existing law actually goes much too far in the direction of censorship already?

    You want useful alternative legislation to PIPA/SOPA, Senator Wyden? Then I propose a program called "Rollback Intellectual Property."

    1) Shore up and expand Fair Use in very specific, solid legal terms.

    2) Ram home the point that mere ideas are not eligible for copyright or patent, and establish ways to quash lawsuits implying otherwise.

    3) Cut back ridiculously destructive copyright terms to a maximum of 25 years.

    That would be a very, very modest start.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris Brand (profile), Dec 1st, 2011 @ 12:08pm

    embraced by the Internet ?

    having seen what's on the Internet, I'm not sure that's much of an incentive...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    P. Scully, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 8:20am

    embraced by the internet

    I agree with Chris. What's the alternative?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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