Anchors away at MSNBC


Whether because of the constant on-air feuding between the anchors or the GOP's protests that it was getting a raw deal, MSNBC moved closer to the journalistic center by removing the opinionated Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews from Election Night anchoring duties.

The task will now go to chief White House correspondent David Gregory, who is being groomed for a possible MSNBC primetime slot and/or the moderator job on NBC's "Meet the Press." Olbermann and Matthews will remain on board as analysts.

Gregory will anchor the remaining primetime telecasts for the four presidential and vice presidential debates, then do the same on Election Night, Nov. 4.

MSNBC president Phil Griffin said the channel made the decision late last week after re- evaluating the wisdom of having the two anchor and give opinions at the same time. MSNBC decided it was better not having Olbermann and Matthews feel as if they had to restrain themselves.

It wasn't a particularly great two weeks of convention coverage for MSNBC. At the Democratic convention, Olbermann, Matthews, "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough and anchor David Shuster squabbled about the liberal direction of the channel. Olbermann, who stayed in New York for the Republican convention, was criticized for his remarks after a GOP video tribute remembering the attacks of Sept. 11.

MSNBC also was stomped in the ratings by CNN during the DNC and by Fox News Channel during the RNC. (partialdiff)