THE PLANK AUGUST 5, 2009
Since news broke that Keith Olbermann would have to consider allowing former Newsweek
writer Richard Wolffe back on "Countdown" due to his perceived
conflict-of-interest as a member of Dan Bartlett's PR firm Public
Strategies, one open question remains: Why are Olbermann and MSNBC hedging now? Wolffe's position at Public Strategies was
never a secret. The company
sent out a press release on March 30 announcing his arrival. Wolffe
includes his title in his bio for his Daily Beast column, and his
Wikipedia page reads: "Richard L. Wolffe (born 17 September 1968) is a
journalist, a corporate lobbyist, a political analyst on MSNBC, and author of the Barack Obama book Renegade: The Making of a President
(Crown, June 2009)." (Technically Wolffe isn't a registered lobbyist, but he represents corporate clients.) Kris Dahl, Wolffe's agent at ICM, said that her
client made his corporate ties clear to MSNBC and there was no problem
up until now. "I'm perplexed by it," she said of the current flap.
"He's never hidden
On Saturday, Salon's Glenn Greenwald wrote
a scathing post that linked Wolffe's appearance on "Countdown" to
claims of corporate interfence by Rupert Murdoch and Jeff Immelt in an
alleged deal to arrange a Fox-MSNBC detente. Olbermann claimed not to
know about Wolffe's corporate ties. In his Daily Kos statement on
Monday, Olbermann wrote: "I must confess I was caught flat-footed" and
"not [to] know what the truth is."
Jeremy Gaines, a
spokesperson for MSNBC, declined to comment about when the network
first learned of Wolffe's corporate PR job and why it didn't address
the issue back in April when he left journalism to work for Bartlett.
Gaines also declined to comment when asked why Olbermann said he was
caught off guard when Wolffe's appointment at Public Strategies was
made public in a press release. Wolffe is traveling on a European
vacation and declined to comment.