Is Comcast already beginning to re-shape MSNBC?

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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MSNBC host Keith Olbermann’s surprise announcement on Friday that he will be leaving the network effective immediately came days following the Federal Communication Commission’s decision to allow the acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast. The coincidence has led many commentators to speculate a connection.

Noel Sheppard of the conservative online publication NewsBusters wrote that he doesn’t believe the decision to be of coincidental timing.

Sheppard wrote, “Because its exclusive business is media — Comcast is now the largest cable and home internet provider in the nation as well as a growing force in television broadcasting — it might be far more concerned about the political image of MSNBC than GE was.”

Forbes blogger Jeff Bercovici wrote that Comcast is “an intrinsically conservative corporation, it’s not overly friendly to congenital boat-rockers like Olbermann.”

“My hunch: There’s a lot more to this story, and we’ll be hearing it very soon,” wrote Bercovinci.

Hollywood news publication TMZ wrote that “Keith Olbermann was fired by MSNBC, sources tell TMZ, and we’re told it had everything to do with Comcast’s acquisition of NBC.” The sources were unnamed and no further information was provided.

Comcast has denied playing any role in the Olbermann decision.

Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokesperson for Comcast, released a statement that said, “Comcast has not closed the transaction for NBC Universal and has no operational control at any of its properties including MSNBC.”

“We pledged from the day the deal was announced that we would not interfere with NBC Universal’s news operations. We have not and we will not,” wrote Fitzmaurice.