Last Sunday I posted a paranoid lament about Media Nation’s wireless- network problems, and wondered whether Comcast’s forced march to digital might somehow be responsible. As it turned out, my issues were easily solved (or would have been if I weren’t such a tech dolt) by replacing our old AirPort base station with a shiny new AirPort Express.
Before it was over, though, I had received comments from no fewer than two Comcast employees, assuring readers of Media Nation that their planet is a benevolent one whose inhabitants want nothing but the best for humanity. (See this and this.)
I didn’t think much about it until last night, when I saw a New York Times story, by Brian Stelter, on Comcast’s dogged efforts to track down negative blog posts and respond to them with warm and happy messages. Pretty interesting. Some bloggers told Stelter they found it “creepy.” I don’t, and I swear I’m not saying that just because I now know Big Daddy Comcast is looking over my shoulder as a type.
Some of the complaints about Comcast’s recent behavior are over a move I have only partly addressed — the company’s decision to shift MSNBC, CSPAN2 and several other channels to the digital tier, forcing customers who want those channels to get a digital box and pay a few more dollars each month. I did as I was told this past Monday.
There are critics who believe the move was made specifically to marginalize Keith Olbermann, whose “Countdown” program on MSNBC is the most outspokenly liberal talk show on television. This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial, which I found on NewsTrust, attempts to make that case, and does a rather poor job of it.
Media Nation’s working hypothesis is that it’s always about the money. So when I appeared on Arnie Arnesen’s radio show earlier this week to talk about MSNBC, I was pleased to hear that she had hit upon a more likely theory: that Comcast had targeted MSNBC specifically to goad liberal viewers into upgrading and paying for more of those yummy Comcastic services.
This is the reverse of the “Let’s Censor Keith” theory. Rather, it’s “Let’s Use Keith to Choke More Money Out of Those Latte-Swilling, Prius-Driving Elitists.” She may be on to something. As a business proposition, it hits just the right middle ground. Move the SciFi Channel (or Comcast’s own CN8, which it did) and no one would notice. Move NESN, and thousands of torch-bearing Red Sox fans would storm the local Comcast office. Move MSNBC, though, and liberals would simply grumble and pay up.
And, Frank and Jim, I just want you to know that I would never, ever even look at Comcast Must Die, that nasty site maintained by that awful man Bob Garfield. Really. So please don’t take away my MSNBC again. Deal?