Phil Griffin, MSNBC President, made the decision to suspend Keith Olbermann without pay from his program on that cable station after he became aware that Olbermann had made political contributions to three Democratic campaigns last month. According to the New York Times article, Mr. Olbermann donated $2,400 to three campaigns, which evidently violated policies in place at MSNBC. In reaching his decision to act against Mr. Olbermann, Mr. Griffin consulted first with Steve Capus, President of NBC News, and Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC-Universal. Mr. Griffin was actually quoted in an early Friday, November 5th, afternoon statement as saying, “Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.”
To add fuel to the fire, Bob Steele, the Director of the Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University, issued the following comment on the subject, “When a journalist becomes an activist, the principle of independence is not just eroding, it’s corroding from within.”
Donating a paltry sum to a several political campaigns pales in significance to the outlandish act of brazenly lying to the public… as Susan Filan did in an online article. Ms. Filan is the Senior Legal Analyst for MSNBC, and in an article in 2007 titled “Nifong’s punishment severe, appropriate,” she fabricates a story in which she accuses former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong of asking his son to attend his hearing before the North Carolina State Bar. The statement is given as fact, as though she was in the Nifong living room and heard it firsthand. She compounds the libelous statement by using it to attack Mr. Nifong’s character… suggesting that he had selfish motives in “asking” his son to attend his hearing… possibly to gain pity or sympathy she conjectures.
Since I first read the article by Ms. Filan, I had doubts about its veracity as I wondered how she would be privy to such information. Surely she was not a guest in the Nifong household when the comments were made. I thought that she most likely had caught a video tape in which Mr. Nifong might have mentioned that he asked his son to attend his hearing. I didn’t know exactly how she came about her information, but because she used it as a basis to denigrate Mr. Nifong’s sensitivities and parenting skills, I thought that she had a basis for making the claim that Mr. Nifong asked his son to attend his hearing. So, I thought that I would just verify her statement by asking the Nifongs directly. I must say that I was not at all surprised to learn that the MSNBC Senior Legal Analyst statements were nothing more than a figment of her imagination. It never happened. In fact, what happened was to the contrary. Mr. Nifong asked his son not to attend the hearing, but he insisted on showing support for his embattled father… like any good son with proper upbringing would do.
MSNBC Senior Legal Analyst Filan accused Mr. Nifong of using his son and taking advantage of him, but as it is now clearly apparent, Ms. Filan is the one who took advantage of Mr. Nifong’s son. She used him to get in a flagrant below the belt jab at Mr. Nifong. The evidence is all laid out in the Investigative Reports section of the official Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong website (www.justice4nifong.com).
As was plainly pointed out in the writings in the investigative reports, including several other blogs on the topic, what is truly alarming is the unwillingness of the individuals at MSNBC to investigate themselves or take any action whatever. I wrote to Ms. Filan in December 2009, asking for any documentation or source for her statement about the alleged conversation between Mr. Nifong and his son. She refused to respond. When I wrote to Rick Cotton, the General Counsel of NBC-Universal and Jeff Zucker, the CEO of NBC-Unversal, all letters sent to them by certified mail were returned with the word “refused.” They are doing their best to protect Ms. Filan and to continue to mislead viewers who go online to read her 2007 article.
Now I don’t know if Mr. Steele would consider fabricating a story to use in order to attack someone’s character unethical, but I certainly do. In fact, I would consider it to be a far more egregious act than doling out a few bucks to the campaign coffers of a few politicians. MSNBC Senior Legal Analyst Susan Filan’s article and the reaction (or more accurately, inaction) of Mr. Cotton and Mr. Zucker to my queries about it directly bring the credibility of NBC News into question.
One thing is apparent to me, however, and that is that the mainstream media, and most media in general, have a well entrenched bias against Mr. Nifong. To them, any story that sheds any favorable light on Mr. Nifong is not “newsworthy.” They go to extremes to ignore it. Will New York Times writers Brian Stelter and Bill Carter write about Susan Filan lying to the public? I doubt it. Not because they do not want to, but that the Powers-That-Be who pay their salaries and upon whom their livelihoods depends will quash any attempt to do so. As has been pointed out in the News section of our website, Rae Evans, mother of Duke Lacrosse defendant Dave Evans, worked as an executive at CBS News for more than a decade… and of course she has strong ties with many in the news media.
Phil Griffin can levy sanctions against Keith Olbermann for a bit of trifle, but when it comes to serious matters of intentionally lying to the public as documented in the Susan Filan incident (the Senior Legal Analyst of MSNBC), you can count on him to go along with Rick Cotton and Jeff Zucker… acting like an ostrich and sticking his head in the ground… acting oblivious to the potential for great harm she’s doing to his company, and to the news media in general.
As far as suspending Mr. Olbermann indefinitely without pay, I think it was an ill-advised and petty response. Reinstate Keith Olbermann immediately. The person who is deserving of suspension and other punitive actions for fabricating stories is the person that all of the MSNBC and NBC-Universal executives are circling the wagons to protect.
Susan Filan LINK: http://justice4nifong.com/direc/irepoDirec/irDirec.htm