Stacy McCain has a point about Keith Olbermann I’ve yet to see anyone else make. Oddly enough, it has nothing to do with Demi Lovato in a bikini.

Looking at cable ratings, I’m having a hard time figuring how Olbermann, who draws fewer than 400,000 viewers in the 24-54 demo on an average night is worth $7 million a year, unless Bill O’Reilly (whose audience is at least three times bigger) is getting $21 million a year, which I think he isn’t.

Granted, Olbermann is more . . . uh, interesting to watch than that insipid idiot Chris Mattews, but if TV salaries are negotiated in a competitve marketplace, you’re going to have a hard time justifying $7 million a year for Olbermann — as a matter of pure economics, at least.

Suppose that MSNBC had refused to pay Olbermann the $7 million his agent demanded: “If you don’t give us $7 million, we’ll take our act to CNN.” OK, so Olbermann jumps to the 8 p.m. slot on CNN and MSNBC moves Rachel Maddow or Lawrence O’Donnell into the 8 p.m. slot. Even if Olbermann’s ratings on CNN are somewhat higher than his MSNBC replacement’s ratings (and I’m not sure that would be the case), wouldn’t the cost savings in terms of salary — Rachel Maddow is reportedly paid $1 million a year — be worth it?

The idea that Olbermann is such a hot commodity that MSNBC must bid for his services, lest he jump ship to another network, is an iffy proposition at best. And I just don’t see how MSNBC executives can justify paying Olbermann seven times what it pays Maddow, who hasn’t been accused of checking out Demi Lovato’s rump. Yet.

Regardless of how it acts on a regular basis, MS-NBC is a business and not a non-profit group that exists to elect Democrats. At some point, the shareholders are going to wonder why General Electric owns a network that endures Olbermann’s diva antics when it could take that money and hire plenty of other more capable, less controversial, more watchable, less egotistical hosts.

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