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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Not so free speech

It appears free speech only applies to people who don't work at large cable companies.

Barry Nolan, host of a number of Boston-based programs on Comcast's CN8 Network told Emily Rooney tonight that he was let go -- for criticizing the presentation of a New England Emmy Chapter Governor's Award to noted bloviator Bill O'Reilly.

Nolan was apparently cheesed off at the decision to honor O'Reilly -- a Boston University graduate who practiced journalism around town before hitting the big time as a loud-mouthed bully at the Fairandbalanced News Channel. Nolan told the Herald's Inside Track:
“I am appalled, just appalled. He inflates and constantly mangles the truth . . . and his frequent target is the ‘left-leaning’ media - the ones who do report the news fairly. And those are the same people who will be sitting in the room honoring him.”
Nolan told Rooney that he passed out leaflets at the banquet, listing some of O'Reilly's better insults. But it seems O'Reilly has friends in the right places justifying the "honor," like that noted free speech advocate John Silber:
... I weigh in on this issue because five years ago as chancellor of Boston University I was pleased following the vote of the BU alumni board to present O’Reilly our Distinguished Alumnus Award. Had there been any truth to the allegations of Nolan, we would never have considered it.

Bill O’Reilly was then and continues to be a remarkably evenhanded journalist of whom we at BU continue to be proud. He is a credit to our school and a worthy mentor to students.
I'm not advocating Nolan as a master journalist. I never watch CN8, mainly because I have no interest in Philadelphia programming. But I am curious about Comcast's reasons for firing Nolan for, in effect, exercising free speech rights.

O'Reilly is notorious for pursuing vendettas against those who dare to diss him. I would never want to get into a knife fight with Mr. Fairandbalanced Roger Ailes. So let me throw out a possible suggestion about why Comcast canned Nolan.

Could it be that News Corp., the owner of the Fox Network, Fox News Channel and sundry other Fox properties -- not to mention the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post -- may have suggested it was in Comcast's economic interests to can a D List personality in the hopes of retaining decent relations with a large source of revenue?

One thing Ailes, O'Reilly and Rupert Murdoch know is overkill. And John Silber doesn't know good journalism.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

...I hate Bill O'Reilly as much as the next person with a brain of any size, but you do understand that the First Amendment only protects you from most government interference in what you say, right? You have the right to say whatever you damn well please, but if you are an at-will employee, your employer has the right to fire you for any reason it damn well pleases. Nothing guarantees you the right to free speech without consequences.

May 21, 2008 9:51 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Of course there are consequences for speech. But I'm suggesting that a company that deals in information should have higher standards than simply caving to economic pressure.

This is a company that owns New England Cable News. If they don't uphold free speech and First Amendment rights why should we expect Halliburton, to pick on just one ompany, to do it?

May 22, 2008 1:14 AM  
Anonymous Neil said...

But who will stand up for Bill O'Reilly's inappropriate office behavior with females who indicate the attention he gives them is unwanted and sexual in nature? Where are the conservative values when it comes to O'Reilly's personal responsibility?

"60% of everything that comes out of your mouth is crap"
- David Lettermen (spoken on air to Bill O'Reilly)

...Silbermen's overly generous assessment of O'Reilly's journalism, notwithstanding.

May 22, 2008 1:41 AM  
Anonymous neil said...

More specifics about how Barry Nolan knows his comments about O'Reilly caused his termination would be instructive.

May 22, 2008 1:44 AM  
Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

I hope the caterer for that honors dinner serves falafel.

Bill O'Reilly is a bully, and a blemish on American journalism.

May 22, 2008 11:09 AM  
Anonymous io saturnalia! said...

You're wise, indeed, to avoid a knife fight with Roger Ailes. Even a sharpened rapier would have difficulty finding its way to any vital organs, thwarted as it would no doubt be by layer upon layer of protective marbling.

I long way to go for a fat joke, I admit.

May 22, 2008 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Basically by dissing O'Reilley, he was dissing the whole NE Emmy awards and their process..

Comcast colleagues people were also to be in the room...to possibly receive awards. (Are other NE Emmy awardees questionable as well?)

And Barry was going to be a clown and invite Keith Olbermann as his "date".

A little too much buffoonery for anyone to tolerate.

I'm sure Comcast doesn't want Barry speaking for them.....they want to speak (if they even choose to) for themselves.

And yes, people tout "free speech" not realizing that it's only a restriction on government...not your employer, or your neighbor next door. The government can't inpinge (sp?) your right to free speech.....but everyone else. can...especially if they get tired of your crap.

As was said earlier...all we have is Barry's contention as to why he was fired. Comcast hasn't announced this. Maybe Comcast didn't like paying his salary...maybe Comcast realized no one was watching CN8.

May 22, 2008 2:58 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

We definitely need to hear more from CN8 -- and for their sake it better be more than not liking what he said.

Comcast deals in information and its properties include news organizations like NECN. They must be held to a higher standard than companies that deal in widgets

May 22, 2008 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was not fired for having an opinion, he was fired for making a scene at the Emmy's and embarrassing CN8. If you work for a company and are representing the company at the Emmy awards, probably a good idea not to embarrass that company.

This is not a free speech issue, and people trying to make it into that have no idea what they are talking about.

May 22, 2008 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

***...and for their sake it better be more than not liking what he said.***

Ummmm...Why can't it be they didn't like what he had to say? They pay his salary!

***They must be held to a higher standard than companies that deal in widgets***

What standard are they compromising? If you work for an employer, you don't shoot your mouth off and jepeordize your employers interests.

Never mind insulting the Emmy's.

I see nothing wrong with what they did.

But then again...as a "Outraged Liberal" everything is a big conspiracy, right?

May 22, 2008 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of what you think of his political views, O'Reilly is a horrible journalist. He habitually shades the truth and outright lies. In terms of the man's character, O'Reilly is guilty of blatant sexual harassment in the workplace and paid out millions in a lawsuit because of it. Finally, O'Reilly is a bully, pure and simple. When it doubt, O'Reilly shouts and calls his guests names. And finally has the man ever actually broken any news? No. He's just a blowhard. The only reason that the local Emmys are giving O'Reilly an award is because all they really care about is money, and he makes a lot of it for his corporate masters and himself. Money = character. Money = accomplishment. Good for Nolan for pulling back the curtain and showing us all what a sham the NE Emmys are. Corporate fascism - alive and well in the broadcasting world. Thank God for blogs.

May 23, 2008 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

**O'Reilly is a horrible journalist. He habitually shades the truth and outright lies. In terms of the man's character...*

What does this have to do with the way Nolan's actions? He acted in a foolish manner that reflected on his employer.

Facts about O'Reilley's character have nolthing to do with it.

Kind of reminds me when a kid gets in trouble for doing something...and then blames it on the actions of another.

May 24, 2008 1:14 AM  
Blogger The Great Gadfly said...

It is hard to believe that someone who has been around as long as Nolan does not understand how lucky he is to have a job in media at all...he is not very bright, not very well read, not very entertaining. It is also hard to believe that this one gaffe was the cause of his being fired. Could it be that Mr. Nolan has been screwing up for a long time and that his bosses finally reached their limit? How embarrassing...fired because of Bill O'Reilly.

May 27, 2008 10:41 AM  

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