TV Newser: Is Matthews a fall guy for Olbermann?

Yeah, I think so. They’re both chin-deep in the tank, but where Olby’s bias is driven by near-pathological antipathy to conservatives, Matthews’s is driven by fanboy admiration for The One. That makes his tone easier to digest and leaves him capable of at least tolerating the presence of Republicans, not to mention criticizing Obama in ways that would leave Olbermann sweaty and stuttering.

An NBC News executive believes the Olbermann-Matthews pairing was dicey almost from the start — on the night of the New Hampshire primary, when Olbermann and others on his panel mocked John McCain’s victory speech. “It evolved into the monster that it is, and no one was minding the image,” says the executive. “They banked on the team to do the events, and little by little the slippery slope lost its ground.”…

In Washington, home base for 11-year MSNBC veteran Matthews, the perception is that he has become the fall guy. “There’s a real sense of unfairness that Chris is being made to pay for Keith’s behavior. Not just on Chris’ part — others at the network recognize it, too,” a person close to the situation tells us.

What led MSNBC to pull the trap door? Oddly, according to TV Newser, it was Olbermann’s on-air heart-ache about the GOP’s 9/11 convention video while performing his, ahem, anchor duties. “I found it ironic and instructive that I could have easily said exactly what I did say, exactly when I did say it, if I had been wearing a different hat, and nobody would have taken any issue,” said Olby to the NYT yesterday. And actually, I agree with him: This moronic charade, in which MSNBC expected audiences to believe a propagandist could set down his bias like a heavy load when doing “neutral” newscasting, is an insult to everyone’s intelligence, including his. Which is why it’s so very curious to revisit this Broadcasting & Cable piece from July and find him asserting, “We know there are different roles for us… And the viewers know there are different roles.” How does that square with his lament to the Times about the silly formalistic overemphasis on wearing “different hats”?

Kaus has your exit question but I guess I should offer one of my own, so sound off: Is Matthews collateral damage here?