Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Friday, January 21, 2011


Maybe he should have changed the segment to "Worst TV Executives in the World!"

I'm finding it hard at the moment to find words that adequately express my shock at MSNBC's unprovoked firing of Keith Olbermann, their highest rated host and the man who, quite literally, made their network work. I would add the word "single-handed," but that would miss the genius of KO. Unlike the preening FOX cele-(not-too)-brities, who are rival sharks in a shared tank, KO spent a lot of time finding smart liberals and helping them launch their own shows at his network, even giving up his own prime air to do so.

Yeah, he could be infuriating, especially when he took his own rhetoric too seriously or applied his searing moralism to minor tactical disputes within the Dem coalition (say, Hillary's campaign rhetoric or the tax cut compromise). But you knew his heart was in the right place, even when his head wasn't. The frequent self-deprecation helped, as when he chortled with glee at Ben Affleck's brilliant parody of him on SNL. I always thought you had to cut KO a lot of slack for his occasional lapses. From roughly 2005-8, he was the voice of freedom in a dark, dark time. Aside from Jon Stewart, tolerated by the DC press corps only because he could be dismissed (wrongly) as just-a-comic, KO was for many years the only host on my TV who could or would speak the truth and name names. Best of all, he reveled in the fight against FOX and made it fun. He even managed to get under their skin, rattling O'Reilly & Co. into paroxysms of hilarious hate.

The big question tonight is whether Comcast, which completed its purchase of NBC Universal just days prior, made the firing of KO their first priority. If so, a horrible omen. By sacking KO, Comcast will have undermined the credibility of TV's only liberal-leaning network with much of its core base, and it is hard to imagine there not being blowback that damages the other key shows as well. If liberals stop watching to protest Comcast, the bastards win. If liberals keep watching and the other hosts now pull punches, the bastards win.

Tonight, though, the focus should be on the man done wrong and the wrongs he did right. God bless you, Keith, you made my day more times than I can count. Don't stay gone long.


At 9:47 AM, Blogger fronesis said...

This little gem of a piece should be circulated much more widely.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Gina said...

Olbermann signed a non-compete clause, so he can't work for any other network for a period of time. Also, the exit deal he and MSNBC signed prohibits him from doing interviews about his departure for a period of time. (Don't know how long yet--maybe Bill Carter of the New York Times can ferret it out) Hopefully, he'll do HuffPost, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo or the like along with radio and/or podcasts until the non-compete legal requirements expire.


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