I admit that I've been a fan of Keith Olbermann from his SportsCenter days on ESPN. I found his unique brand of sardonic humor a nice change from the rah-rah breathless blah, blah inane chat that used to typify sports shows. He helped change the way that sports was delivered, and took that same enthusiasm and genius for the skew into broadcast journalism.
I don't know what caused the split, and I don't want to speculate, other than I believe that KEITH HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. Oh sure, he tweaked his corporate bosses with the rhetoric he would unleash and his "worst person of the day" gag. When he was suspended following his -- minor -- campaign donations, he proudly associated himself with the campaigns to put him on the air, but you would think that a multi-zillion dollar media conglomerate would have more tolerance both for the violation and for his alignment with the viewer revolt. In fact, given the daily twisted-editorial-pretending-to-be-journalism that you see everyday on Fox News, you would think that MSNBC would realize that ratings, and thus advertising dollars, are driven by hosts like Olbermann. Sure, he may piss someone off, but can anyone argue with a straight face that he is worse on the left than either O'Reilly or Beck is on the right? Can anyone say that they didn't private or publicly enjoy the blood feud between Olbermann and O'Reilly? Was there anyone else on cable who would, on a daily basis, dare take on and take down the Limbaughs and other agitators on the right? Fair and balanced indeed, Keith provided that on a meta-level for the cable news networks. The fact is that Keith, for all his faults (and let's be honest, there were more than a few), was erudite, intellectual, and unafraid of being associated with liberal causes, and that courage made him the anti-O'Reilly and anti-Beck all in one, because God knows that cable needs one.
I like baseball analogies, and the departure of Olbermann leaves the rotation of MSNBC without their number one starter who throws hard, nasty stuff, the stopper, the one who sets the tone. Maddow is great, the change-up artist, like Greg Maddux. Lawrence O'Donnell is the guy who gets you innings, steady, but not spectacular. Chris Matthews is the brilliant and unpredictable one -- he can throw a perfect game one day and get shelled in the first inning the next. But if you wanted someone on Opening Day, the guy who charges up the crowd against the hated division (network) rival, it was Olbermann, pure and simple. The liberals of America have lost a singular voice, and at at time when the right-wing press machine will be gearing up to cheer on the Republicans in Congress and begin the attacks on the Obama re-elect, a voice when we need it most.
I'm not sure what the future holds for Olbermann, but I, for one, am a convert and a follower. We will miss you, Keith, and I can't wait to see you back on the air -- somewhere. And soon.
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